Blog on what is a digital PR strategy? and how do I create one
12 minutes

What is a Digital PR Strategy and How Do I Create One?

A digital PR strategy is a thorough plan that includes a well-selected set of tactics to meet your business objectives. It helps to improve online performance, increase brand awareness, boost organic traffic, and build highly authoritative backlinks to your website to ramp up your SEO efforts and climb up the SERP. It’s also an effective way to stand out from big competitors, even if you’re a smaller brand. 

In this guide, you’ll find out exactly what a digital PR strategy is so that you can create and implement your own. You can even download our handy digital PR strategy template to make the roll-out a breeze.

Contents

  1. How do I build a digital PR strategy?
    a) Set an objective
    b) Get to know your audience
    c)
    Research and ideation
    d)
    Set your sights on target publications
    e)
    Select the best tactics
    f)
    Get your content right
    g)
    Nail the perfect pitch
    h)
    Measure your performance
  2. NORTH – Digital PR Strategy Template

 

So, how do I build a digital PR strategy?

Creating strategies can feel a bit overwhelming, and often even a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Follow our eight simple steps, download and complete our digital PR strategy template, and you’ll have created a well-thought-out plan ready to meet your objective and maximise your business’s performance.

 

1. Set an objective

An effective digital PR strategy has to have a clear objective. When creating strategies at NORTH, we follow the SOSTAC framework: 

Situation  Objective Strategy Tactics Actions Control.

SOSTAC framework breakdown

To get things started, you need to think about the situation you’re in and make a list of the problems you currently face as a business. You’re looking at where you are now, to work out where you need to be – this will point you towards your objective. 

That objective might be similar to one of the following: 

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Grow organic traffic
  • Improve search ranking
  • Boost traffic to a specific page
  • Establish your business as an authority
  • Generate sales/ business leads

Your strategy is how you’re going to get to where you need to be. If you’re a travel business and you need to improve search ranking, then your digital PR strategy might be to build backlinks from authoritative travel and lifestyle publications.

 

2. Know your audience

One of the biggest downfalls in business is not understanding who your customers are. To avoid this, we’d advise you to dive in deep and get as much detail about your customers as possible to create personas.

Your personas should include:

  • Their demographic
  • Where they discover news
  • What they like to read
  • What they watch and listen to
  • What their interests and hobbies are
  • What they’re passionate about
  • The type of content they choose to share

Getting this information correct is vital to your digital PR strategy. It will help you to pick the most relevant ideas, create the most suitable content and find the best possible placements/ prospect publications to reach out to with your pitch.

 

3. Research and ideation 

You should now have an idea of your overall objective and who you’re targeting, but you’re going to need some ideas for your campaigns. 

We advise setting up an ideation session with a small group of creative people. To run these meetings efficiently, create a brief which includes lots of information about the brand, your audience and examples of the sites you want to target with creative campaigns. A solid brief will help your attendees prepare in advance and bring their best ideas along on the day.

There’s no such thing as a bad idea, so keep an open mind and look at things from a different angle/ perspective. Whittle down the best ideas into a shortlist and then choose the most relevant idea to develop your first campaign. You’re looking for an idea with a strong hook that journalists and publications will jump at the chance to cover.

Your idea also needs to be super relevant to your brand. Take a look at your ideas and ask yourself, ‘has my brand got the authority to talk about this subject?’ if it doesn’t, you’ll struggle to get buy-in from journalists and they won’t cover it. Yes creative ideas are key but your brand must fit naturally into the topic. 

Once you have your idea it’s time to pull together the research. There are loads of different tools you can use when researching including:

If you need something more specific that isn’t already available then there’s always the trusty PR survey, or you could run a simple poll on social media.

 

4. Set your sights on target publications

Now you’ve created your audience personas you should have a good idea of where they get their news and the types of publications they read. This will start to form your list of target publications to reach out to. 

Ask yourself – ‘Will the publications on my list be interested in featuring our campaign and is it relevant to them?’. If the answer is no, then I’m afraid it’s back to the drawing board, either your campaign idea is wrong or you haven’t chosen the right publications. 

If you have a campaign about the most popular pub names around the world, it’s unlikely that a health & fitness magazine is going to want to cover it.

If you’re struggling to build a list for a niche industry, find one relevant publication and look at who they follow on social media to find similar publications. For example if you look at ‘You Magazine’ on Twitter, you’ll find they follow ‘British GLAMOUR’, and ‘Stylist’, both of which would make great choices for lifestyle publications.

 

5. Select the best tactics

There are several tried-and-tested tactics that work well for gaining coverage and links with your digital PR campaigns, it’s down to you to decide which you include in your strategy:

A list of the different digital PR tactics

a) Core

If you’re starting from scratch with digital PR, there may already be some low hanging fruit out there waiting for you to claim in the form of a good ol’ link. Tools like Ahrefs can help you find unlinked brand mentions and broken links. Just get in touch with the relevant sites on your list to claim a link and fix any broken backlinks.

 

b) Reactive

This is where you need to have your finger on the pulse and eyes glued to the news. Reactive PR, or newsjacking as it’s commonly known, has become a massively popular tactic for PRs. 

We host a reactive session every morning at NORTH, where the team discusses what’s happening and looks for opportunities that are relevant for each client. 

This might be a major news event like the cost of living crisis, a new TikTok trend like the stairmaster fitness workout we found for fourfive, or even Boris Johnson’s partygate. 

To find reactive ideas we advise monitoring the news, following #journorequest and #PRrequest on Twitter, and using a tool like Response Source, HARO or Source Bottle.

 

c) Proactive

Whilst reactive is all about reacting to what’s happening currently, on the flip side proactive PR is all about looking ahead to see what’s coming in the future so you can plan your campaigns accordingly. 

Here’s the type of thing you can cover:

  • Seasonal holidays – (e.g. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day)
  • Big sports events (e.g. Wimbledon, World Cup, Euros, Champions League Final)
  • Movie & TV releases (e.g. Blockbusters, Netflix and Prime, Love Island, The Apprentice)
  • Seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn)
  • Festivals (e.g. Glastonbury, Wireless, BST, Reading & Leeds)
  • Awareness Days (e.g. Veganuary, Dryanuary, IWD, Pride)
  • Award Shows (e.g. Oscars, Emmys, BAFTAs)

 

d) Data-led

It’s highly likely that the research for your campaign idea involved digging into some data. The data-led approach is all about creating a campaign centred around your research, including a headline with a strong hook that grabs the attention of both journalists and readers alike. 

The more reliable and fresh the data is, the stronger the pull. If you have a new, valuable insight to share then it’s highly likely it’ll be used as a reference in blogs too, which should land you plenty of links.

Make the biggest possible impact with that data and create a striking visual. It could be as simple as formatting your data into a table, stepping things up and creating an infographic, a map, or something super creative like a pint glass divided into sections to show ‘the most popular beer styles in the world’.

 

e) Creative

We love a creative campaign here at NORTH, and for good reason. This type of campaign is what you tend to see plastered all over social media, and in dark social – landing in your whatsapp, email and slack. It’s social currency to the max!

These types of campaigns borrow a lot from traditional PR – we’re talking big stunts, dream jobs, eye-popping videos, interactive websites and games, jaw-dropping experiential, and stunning visuals. 

These ideas tend to be super original and unignorable, they’re great for brand building, gaining solid coverage and link building alike.

 

f) Expert

With this approach you can cement your place as the expert in your field/ niche and focus on building your authority in the industry. 

Journalists and PRs alike often look for experts to chip in and add weight to their stories; backing up claims, sharing an opinion, offering advice, or debunking myths. 

Depending on the content, the expert for your business could be you, a brand ambassador you work with, head of production, a data-scientist, a designer – the list goes on…

To find the opportunities for commentary you can use the same tools as you would for reactive; #journorequest on Twitter, HARO, Response Source etc… 

Another approach is to look for guest blogs, type your keyword into Google along with ‘guest blogs’ or ‘list of blogs that accept guest posts’ and you can start creating a shortlist of websites to reach out to.

 

g) Product-led

We can guarantee that most of you reading this are looking to sell a product or service, this approach puts that product or service right in front of your audience, with a direct link to a product or category page. 

Let’s say for example that you sell pyjamas, in fact you offer matching pyjamas for the whole family, including dogs. You could create a story around dog pyjamas to pique your consumer’s interest and drive purchase with a newsworthy headline like – ‘You can now get matching pyjamas for your dog’. 

It’s fun, memorable and very shareable, with a higher chance of purchase as the story is all about the product and nothing else. E-commerce managers, we highly recommend using this tactic in your digital PR strategy.

 

6. Get your content right

Content is king, so whatever tactics you decide to include in your digital PR strategy, you need to get this bit right. The average person consumes six hours and 59 minutes of digital content per day so your content needs to grab attention, stop people from scrolling and stand out.

Make sure to select the best format to showcase your campaign:

  • Press release
  • Listicle
  • Landing page
  • Video
  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Animation
  • Infographic
  • Microsite
  • Games
  • Experiential
  • Stunt
  • Podcast
  • Meme

 

7. Nail the perfect pitch

With our target publications list in mind, we can now go out there and find the right contacts to build a media list to pitch our campaign to. 

Journalists’ inboxes are littered with stories from PRs, so if you want to get noticed then you need to spend a good amount of time working on your outreach.

The perfect pitch is a fine art, and the more campaigns you work on, the better yours will be. 

We suggest you:

  • Grab attention with a snappy subject line: stick to eight words or less, around five is the sweet spot. The aim is to pique interest and curiosity to increase your open rate.
  • Don’t bore them: introduce yourself and who you work for, but keep it short and sweet. They haven’t got time to read your brand story, and it probably isn’t going to help sell your campaign.
  • Personalise the email: you could reference another article they’ve written, or point out the relevance of your story and the synergy it shares with their publication.
  • Summarise the story: if someone only had 20 seconds to read your pitch, what should they read? Use a headline and 3-4 bullet points to tell your story, if they like it then they’ll read on.
  • Nail your formatting: use bullet points, break up chunky paragraphs into short sentences, and bold out any key takeouts.
  • Always be closing: end with one simple call to action e.g. ‘Let me know if you’re interested in covering the story and I’ll send over our hi-res images and research.’

 

8. Measure your performance 

This is the ‘control’ aspect of your SOSTAC strategy, and it’s extremely important because after all, what’s measured is managed. We recommend including KPIs in your actions to ensure your activity is SMART.

This could be:

  • Increase organic traffic by XX%
  • Build XX new links to product page
  • Increase average page rank by XX
  • Gain XX shares
  • Grow impressions by XX
  • Grow domain authority by XX

The bonus of digital PR in comparison to traditional PR is the access to data, you can get extremely detailed and measure your performance with a magnifying glass.  

These results should move the needle closer to your main objective, proving an effective strategy. As business needs change and evolve, strategies should be reviewed regularly to see what is and isn’t working, we’d suggest doing this as part of your quarterly business review.

 

Let’s wrap this up:

  • Follow the SOSTAC framework by downloading our ‘Digital PR Strategy Template’
  • Work out your current situation as a business to find out where you are now
  • Set an objective to work out where you need to be
  • Write a top-line strategy statement to describe how you’re going to get there
  • Discover more about who your audience is
  • Create a brief and run an ideation meeting
  • Choose an idea with a strong newsworthy hook
  • Research your idea to find the best insights and data possible 
  • List your dream publications to start creating your target list
  • Choose the best tactics to use to tell your story
  • Decide on the best content format/s for your campaign
  • Use your dream publication list to find contact information for your media list
  • Write the perfect email pitch to sell your campaign
  • Measure your campaign’s performance
  • Review your strategy quarterly to align with your business needs

 

Download our Digital PR Strategy Template

Screenshot of our free digital PR strategy template

 

We’ve pulled together a strategy template with an example to get you started.

Download our PowerPoint template: NORTH – Digital PR Strategy Template (PowerPoint)

Download out PDF template: NORTH – Digital PR Strategy Template (PDF)

 

If you need someone to create a digital PR strategy for your business, then get in touch with us today. We have the experience needed to take your business to the next level and maximise your online performance.