We’ve made it through the first quarter of the year, but for the digital PR’s amongst us, we’ve certainly had a tumultuous time. From celebrating wins to embracing learning curves and everything in between, here are some of the most standout things we’ve learned this year so far!
There’s really no ‘one size fits all’ in digital PR
So far this year, we’ve learned that there’s absolutely no set ‘best practice’ for digital PR’s, and that in itself is a value we need to embrace in order to keep our campaigns evolving. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve secured results by both tweaking our practices, while also relying on an array of tried-and-tested tactics.
When it comes to creating campaigns, digital PR’s are truly spoiled for choice. This year has been nothing short of a landslide when it comes to using TikTok and Instagram as data sources, following in the footsteps of trendy Gen Z audience members. We’ve learned that not all stories need to be backed up by bulletproof statistics; instead we can gather simple pieces of data quickly, crafting a story around the key takeaways.
In terms of how valid stories are versus their success rate, we’ve appreciated that there are results to be had on both sides of the fence. If you’re telling a compelling story that is meeting aims and objectives, then your practice is doing exactly what you want it to be doing.
With such a variety of information out there, and different creative approaches to be taken, we’ve decided that digital PR is very much ‘you do you’ in its nature.
Are we traditional enough? Or are we too traditional?
This year (so far) has also made us question some of our most deeply rooted traditions: press releases, and the value of links.
While press releases are often incorporated into campaign content without a second thought, their value has come under scrutiny within the online digital PR community recently. The pros of a press release are that they can capture the attention of a journalist, and they enable PR’s to present a story exactly as they want it to be received. However, they could be seen as a slight ‘middle man’ between the campaign and securing a link.
Prioritising landing pages is becoming the preferred option, as they’re longer lasting and by their nature, can simply be updated when required. As well as this, using press releases means that we’re relying on journalists reading them in order for them to arrive at the page we’d like them to link to, placing some campaigns in a precarious position.
Digital PR might have been built upon an integral foundation of links, but this year, we were prompted to question these ‘holy grail’ aspects of our work. Industry experts have predicted that machine learning could see the pendulum swing away from traditional links, towards inferred links, forcing digital PR’s to make more natural connections.
Inferred links differ in the fact that they have no embedded hyperlink to a target page, and so they typically require less effort to create. They also offer more authenticity, and they’re less biased in how they navigate a user to a page. Only time will tell on whether we’ll ditch links and move towards this more natural tactic, but it’s certainly interesting to see an alternative to one of the most enshrined elements of digital PR.
The necessity of ‘reading the room’ when it comes to newsjacking
While we started the year with a news cycle that was very much still in 2020 in terms of content, we’ve seen gradual changes in the stories we’re consuming as restrictions began to lift. Naturally, this presented many newsjacking opportunities, but the biggest lesson this year has been distinguishing where we draw the line in terms of reactive content.
We’ve joined and listened to conversations about the nature of newsjacking, and how when done wrong, it can have distasteful connotations. As newsjacking requires quick a turnaround, it can often be the case that only once the story is out can we spot any glaring failures to ‘read the room’.
While we understand the importance of having an ‘always on’ mindset, we’ve also come to acknowledge that not every event presents a clear cut opportunity to gain coverage. Our takeaway for Q2 is to make our newsjacking campaigns as valuable as we can, rather than pursuing these opportunities for the sake of it.
We’re already looking forward to seeing how these developments continue into Q2, as well as embracing even more changes in the industry as the year goes on. Explore the rest of our articles for more about all things digital PR. Learn about the ways in which it can leverage your brand’s online presence, from our ultimate guide to link building to why outreach marketing is about way more than just SEO.