When you think about PR, if you are of any age, you almost always think about your business being featured in the local, or if you are very lucky, national press.
The traditional PR firm would charge you a monthly retainer simply for representing you, usually of a few thousand pounds, then they would tap up their contacts in the media and ask them to feature stories about your business which were lightly linked to the news of the moment.
The problem with traditional PR is that it was very hard to prove, if not impossible, a return on investment.
However, when it comes to digital PR, this is a very different matter. It is not only possible for you to prove a return on investment, you can often even prove which piece of content has delivered new clients to you.
What’s more, digital PR can be performed by any business owner without engaging a company to do this for you.
In the digital space, if you were to engage a company to do this for you, you might well be employing a Search Engine Marketing company rather than a traditional PR agency, because ultimately digital PR is about getting your articles or news about your business featured on other business websites.
Let’s look at how you might get some traction and new clients with digital PR.
#1 – Which websites do your clients visit online?
This is the most logical place to start. If you already have clients, ask them which websites they spend any time on for work purposes.
After all, if your existing clients go to these websites, it is likely that potential clients who do not yet know you also visit the same websites.
These could be niche industry websites, online magazines serving the industry or paid for membership services.
If you serve a profession there will certainly be one or two niche publications which would be the perfect place for your content to be featured.
Once you have identified where you would like to be featured, it is time to do some observing.
#2 – Observing the websites where you would like to be featured
This part some business owners will find difficult to follow, being very keen to produce results very quickly. However, a little patience now will dramatically improve your prospects of success.
Before approaching your chosen websites and asking them to feature your content, it is worth spending some time observing the type of articles that they feature on their website.
This observation period might only take a few hours of reading the website, but if you can wait a few weeks and really immerse yourself in the world of the website that you are approaching, you are far more likely to be able to come up with some content (next section) which will be almost impossible for them to refuse.
Notice the style of the writing and particularly look for any trends in the type of content which is being published.
#3 – The content
If you notice a series of articles covering the same topic but each time from a slightly different viewpoint, can you prepare your own article on that topic from your viewpoint? If yes, this will be an excellent starting point. You should prepare an outline of the content that you would prepare, or even better, prepare the entire article.
Be careful to not only match the style of their writing, but also complete a word count of the articles that they have already featured and ensure that you in the same sort of ballpark for words written.
Next, ensure that you send an introductory email which explains how you have been following this series of articles (refer to them) and how you have created your own article featuring your viewpoint which you think their readers will find interesting.
Mention that you are offering this exclusively to their website (this always helps).
Time spent on making your introductory email very personal will reward you very well.
If you do not receive a response within the first few days, call the editor of the section that you are interested in.
This is not a pressure or sales call, simply a “I’m just calling to check that my email made it to you and to see if you have any unanswered questions?” will do the trick nicely.
Follow up until you receive a good or bad response. If it is bad, ask what content they would find useful for their website and even draw out some article titles that you can then prepare for them.
Once you are published, the fun starts! Sit back and wait and see if your mission is successful.
#4 – The new clients
The objective of this digital PR is very straightforward; to win you new clients. So how can you tell if this objective has been achieved?
Google Analytics is the answer; more specifically goal tracking.
Inside Google Analytics you can set up goals which you can assign a monetary value to.
For example, it might be that someone downloads a free book or guide and is redirected to a thank you page after entering their email address. The goal would be set as reaching that thank you page URL to show that you have added a new prospect to your email list.
If your goal is to get someone to make an enquiry about your services, then once again the goal would be achieved when they have completed your website enquiry form and been redirected to the thank you page for that enquiry, explaining that you will be in touch with them soon.
Once these goals are established inside Google Analytics, you can see how many times they have been completed, but more importantly by using the “reverse goal path” you can see how people arrived at your website in the first place, tracing it back to your wonderful piece of digital PR.
To make this method fool proof it is worth creating a completely new page for each publication which features your digital PR so that you can include the link to this page in your article sign off.
For example, if you were featured in Fisheries Weekly, you might create a page on your website entitled “yourdomain.co.uk/fisheries-weekly” and include this in your article sign off.
You would not make that page available from your navigation, thereby ensuring that the only visitors arriving there have come from the Fisheries Weekly website due to the content that you have prepared for them.
You can see from the above that not only is digital PR quite a simple process to follow, but when done well it is also incredibly easy to track new clients generated from the process and then, more importantly, your return on investment from it.