When it comes to digital PR any campaign from any brand no matter how big or small can be hit or miss, especially when you throw the added pressure of keeping on top of the ever-changing news cycle into the equation. Even more so when it’s the Christmas news cycle.
While it’s inevitable (unfortunately) that some releases will miss the mark even if you have covered all your bases, there are a few measures you can take to avoid getting caught up in the pre-Christmas slump.
A recent campaign from our Digital PR Hub to showcase our own offering at Legacy in Digital PR became an overnight hit with a few key ingredients.
Utilising creative thinking, news focused planning, and strong data will always reign supreme when it comes to delivering a top-class digital PR campaign, which is exactly what we attempted to do with our recent story analysing the likelihood of snow in each Irish county for Christmas Day. A simple idea that was supercharged by brilliant data; creative licence and a strong understanding of the news focus across lighter news+ lifestyle media.
Our story secured a whopper 45 pieces of really strong coverage (to date), featuring in publications such as Her.ie, Galway Beo, Spin South West, Ireland Before You Die, four different Sun articles, two Mirror articles – and a multitude of local radio and news sites to boot. Not to mention many articles hosting key links and multiple mentions to drive Legacy website rankings- key for us when it comes to digital pr.
Here’s everything you need to “snow” about how we did it, and how you can garner similar success
When it comes to ideation it can be difficult not to get swept away with hundreds of different ideas. However, it’s important to remember that when it comes to creating quality digital PR, brainstorming and sense checking are just as critical as creative thinking.
For our Ireland’s snowiest Christmas counties release, we dedicated time and resources to expanding on the initial idea, finding tools to gather the data we would need and analysing how it would work in practice before starting to run full data collection. We also had a good look at what was already easily available to us- you would be surprised how much is there if you know where to look.
Don’t be afraid to take risks in the ideation stage but be sure you do due diligence on whether the data is actually available. You absolutely need your data team to stress test availability to match the idea.
Once you are greenlit on data availability; think about the best way to gather the information you need.
To calculate the probability of a white Christmas in each county we devised a smart + clear route. Our data and digital PR team used weather data from the past ten years from Met Eireann and weather checking app TimeAndDate.
However, the website couldn’t find the exact figures for snowfall so instead of abandoning the idea, we decided to think creatively to problem solve a data issue and use the freezing point (the point at which snow could stick to the ground) plus precipitation to calculate the likelihood, working out the percentage based on the same ten-year time frame. Always use your creative to problem solve – even if it is a data issue!
We chose the topic based on new cycle trends over the last number of weeks – as well as trends in the news cycle during the lead-up to Christmas over the past number of years.
By searching for what journalists are covering and have covered on a regular basis each year you can get ahead of competitors by offering publications information on topics that you know they’re already going to be interested in. Getting to a story first and at just the right time is key to a campaign’s success.
When writing your press release it’s important to craft it like you would a news article, if you can do interviews with experts, think of snappy headlines and sub-heads and write in a news language style as much as possible.
This approach adds instant value to your release and means that very few publications will edit much of the content of your release, which is always the goal – and was what we noticed when examining the coverage gained from our white Christmas release.
You can always give your release an advantage by simply snowing your audience (no, we’re not done with the puns yet). Look at what journalists are already writing about the topic before starting your outreach.
And remember – there’s snow place like home (we warned you) – think local and don’t be afraid to send your release to any smaller regional publications if it has a regional angle, every piece of coverage counts.
So, you’ve thought of a great idea, crafted an excellent press release, and perfected your outreach approach but you’re still not getting any coverage. Don’t stress just yet. Falling down the rabbit hole of overthinking your idea is a slippery slope, chances are journalists aren’t freezing you out – they’re just incredibly busy, meaning even if your idea really stands out, it’s not always going to land the first time around.
If it seems like things are moving at a glacial pace, take a breather, go back to the drawing board to see if there are any new angles you can try and retarget.
For Legacy’s Christmas-themed digital PR when coverage had come to a standstill after the first day or so we decided to ditch the traditional follow-up approach. Instead, we decided to go back to each publication, see what journalists had covered similar stories in recent hours, and add them to the outreach list. You know what they say if at first, you don’t succeed completely freak out – and then try, try again, of course.
Even the most successful campaigns can always be improved. Take each release as a learning opportunity. Learn about the journalists who love this type of story; what drove the most links and where you couldn’t land coverage. Then call us 🙂
Make sure to track the things that you *did* get right just as much as the things you may have missed the mark on.
Digital PR can be a bit of a minefield at times, take it easy on yourself, there will always be room to improve something. Chances are you’re doing better than you think – and if you don’t believe that, simply flake it ‘til you make it.
The campaign had amazing results in terms of the amount of coverage that it got, but it also came with a ton of other benefits, let me explain.
One of the hardest things to do in SEO is build links, especially to the right pages! With this campaign we were able to build some really nice links to our target page from extremely authoritative websites. these links will help us grow the authority of our site and ultimately our organic traffic.
As well as all those juicy links, we also saw a huge increase in referral traffic to our website, another great signal that search engines will use to increase our organic traffic. Search engines love popular sites, and use metrics like traffic from other sources to measure the popularity of a site, which is in part why big brands tend to be so hard to compete with when it comes to the first page of the search engine results.