Over the past decade, we’ve seen an increase in the number of agencies and internal teams using Digital PR without their digital marketing strategy, focusing on the driving links that influence organic search performance.
Essentially, the SEO industry started by borrowing techniques that the public relations industry had been using for decades and applying them to the digital world.
This included things like:
- Relationship building with journalists.
- Constructing value in the “black books” of contacts to use with different clients.
- Incorporate stories and hooks in content.
- Use of press releases To get the attention of journalists (and not just to build spam links!)
- Use survey data To push content and stories.
This, along with the rise of content marketing as a link-building tactic, has led to today’s digital PR industry.
For a while, most activity occurred from digital PR through the creation of large-scale “heroes” campaigns that could take weeks or even months to put together and launch.
While these are still very active, the past 18 months have also seen the emergence of a new tactic in digital PR – reaction.
Today, I want to talk about interactive digital PR and give you an overview of what it is, how to know if you can use it, and how to get the most out of it if you try it.
What is Interactive Digital Public Relations?
Reactive digital PR is when you spot an opportunity to get coverage and business links and react quickly to the opportunity to take it.
It depends on someone else (usually a journalist or news outlet) publishing a story that works for the business you’re working with.
Then you interact with that story. By its very nature, it can be difficult to plan how to seize an opportunity.
Contrast this with proactive digital PR, where planned campaigns aim to send messages to your target audience that they might not have heard of otherwise.
Is interactive digital PR for everyone?
of course not.
The use of interactive digital PR depends on several factors to be successful.
If these factors are an issue for your business, you may find that this is not a technology that will provide you with a good return on investment.
Here are some examples of what you need to think about when you consider an interactive digital PR experience.
Some industries are naturally talked about in the news more than others. Some will have clear, recurring news cycles that allow you to predict when interactive digital PR opportunities will present themselves to you.
For example, the following will almost certainly appear in the news cycle again and again regularly:
- Budget announcements from the UK government And the effect of that.
- Christmas gift guides The most popular games every year.
- housing market And increases / decreases in price.
There are many more, but hopefully you get the idea that the press is going to be constantly discussing certain topics.
If you work in an industry where, frankly, not a lot of change is happening or happening when it comes to the news cycle, then interactive digital PR can be a challenge.
It won’t be impossible, but you may need to moderate your expectations and refrain from spending too much time or resources.
On the other hand, if you work in an industry where the topic is frequently discussed, you will naturally have more opportunities to use interactive digital PR, which means you may decide to invest more.
As the name and process suggest, speed is essential for interactive digital PR.
You often need to respond to an opportunity within a few hours or, at most, a few days.
Even if you are fast, you may be overwhelmed by others trying to react quickly. If you couldn’t respond quickly in the first place, you have little chance the technology will work for you.
Ideally, you should have a good level of trust and independence from the company and key stakeholders to make your interactive digital PR work well.
Try to avoid long timeframes for approvals or decisions by committees when producing content or commenting on a story.
Even if you don’t have complete independence, interactive digital PR can still work if you have a stakeholder on your side who understands the need to move quickly and can agree to everything you need in a timely manner.
We’ll talk about this in a bit, but in short, interactive digital PR is a short, sharp project that can produce good levels of links but is unlikely to yield the same results as a hero campaign that goes viral.
Of course, this can happen, but in most cases, you’ll end up with dozens (not hundreds) of links because of your interactive digital PR.
For this reason, stakeholders (and you!) must have the right expectations when entering into this tactic and understand that this is different from other forms of digital PR and link building.
It’s a bit like how certain types of technical SEO fixes will have different levels of impact on organic search results.
You will need a team of stakeholders who understand this and maintain expectations.
In general, if you have concerns in any of these areas, interactive digital PR may not be right for your business, or it may be worth trying before committing too many resources.
Opportunities you are likely to find
Interactive digital PR will likely present you with opportunities to do many things that could lead to coverage and connections.
These are not mutually exclusive of the opportunities that large hero-style campaigns might offer, but are more likely to happen without the need for extensive content.
Comments on topical news stories
There will be times when a journalist is looking for some extra credibility from an industry expert to add to an existing story they are writing.
Monitoring these areas can help you spot opportunities for your internal experts to provide better branded commentary or linking.
It can also be an opportunity to gain credibility in this subject area and build a rapport with the journalist who may come directly to you in the future for further comment.
The content of a particular news item
At times, you will use interactive digital PR to produce content that you provide to journalists to help support stories they may be planning to run in a news article.
Compared to hero-style campaigns, the main difference is that you produce content very quickly and make it specific to the news item or topic that has already been talked about (or will be very soon).
The idea is that you spot a trend that’s likely to be written about over the next few days or weeks, and you produce a piece of content that journalists can use to add more value to what they plan to write.
Your content should be simple, easy to produce, and add unique information to a well-developed news story.
This will often be a piece of data or a simple visualization.
Additions to existing stories
In fact, it is fairly common for journalists to update news stories after publication.
This is particularly common for news development as more information is collected and can add to an existing story.
You will have opportunities to add value to an existing story that you have already seen the journalist write and publish.
Now, this can be tricky, and you should only do this if the content or comment you are going to provide is going to add real value to the existing story.
If not, you will likely get a negative response from the journalist.
What results are you likely to drive with interactive digital PR?
As mentioned above, set expectations with this tactic. A bigger, planned hero campaign won’t always yield results.
But as with most things, it’s hard to predict.
Remember that the time and resources you invest must be commensurate with the expected results.
If your interactive digital PR tasks take 15 minutes and you only get one link, that’s actually a good return for the time you’ve spent.
You should also keep in mind that you are likely to get a mix of organic links, nofollow links, and brand mentions with this type of activity.
You can certainly do your best to turn the brand mention into a link, but it’s not always possible.
Again, this isn’t a big deal because it’s perfectly normal and normal to have a mix of results, but set expectations with your stakeholders that this is likely to be the case before you start.
How to prepare for interactive digital public relations
Although interactive digital PR can be difficult to plan, you can stack the stack to your advantage in a number of ways so that you have the best possible chance of making the most of it when the time comes.
An expert is available with opinions
Spend some time knowing who you are going to in your business to get expert feedback on the key topics you want to cover.
For small businesses, this may be just one person. Large companies may have different specialists in different fields.
Whatever it is, find out who these people are and introduce them to the idea of what you want to do.
From here, assuming they are on board, you can arrange to speak with them directly if feedback is needed and advise them of the need to get feedback quickly where possible.
It is also worth noting that you need to give their opinion!
It may sound a little strange, but ideally, they should have clear or reasonably strong opinions to stand out to the journalist writing on the subject.
You don’t need extreme opinions, but you should probably know which side of the fence they’re sitting on in most situations.
There will be certain dates throughout the year when topics are written more than usual.
There are obvious topics, like Christmas and Halloween, but there are so many others to cover.
For example, did you know that No dirty dishes day Thing?
or that National dance like chicken day happens every year?
While some are obviously not serious and a little fun, find days of the year that are relevant to your topic and may spark news and stories from journalists.
If you can do that and prepare some content that relates to this day of the year, you can show that content to journalists ahead of time and possibly have it covered in their stories.
The assets are already signed
Speed is important for interactive digital PR.
To help combat content production slowdowns and sign-offs, prepare by preparing assets before you actually need them.
When the time is right, and it’s a major topic in the news, you have content ready to go and you can pitch it quickly – instead of waiting for it to register and slow you down.
One way to do this is to spend 30 to 45 minutes on a call with one of your experts and interview them about the topic in question.
This can lead to a gold mine of insights and feedback for interactive digital PR.
Interactive digital PR can be a great way to build more brand connections and coverage, but it’s not for everyone.
If you do go ahead, plan as much in advance as you can and be prepared to move quickly when opportunities present themselves.
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