6 min read

Top Takeaways from Digitaloft’s Digital PR Summit

Top Takeaways from Digitaloft’s Digital PR Summit

Digitaloft’s Online Digital PR Summit took place on 29th September 2021. A free event, open to anyone from a traditional PR background transitioning into the world of Digital, those working in Digital PR wanting to learn more about their roles, or for those simply wanting to feel inspired.

With such a promising line-up and wide variety of talks, I chose to attend to pick up the top tips so that you can hear the best, from the best. These are the key takeaways from each talk!

 “Why Every Digital PR Team Should Be Using Reddit” – Richard Paul (Propellernet)

When it comes to inspiration and execution for Digital PR teams, many first look to the likes of Twitter, Instagram, and Google Trends. In this talk, Richard Paul taught listeners to stop “sleeping on” Reddit and explained how you can use the platform to improve your process:

  • Used properly, Reddit can be a source for inspiration, data, advice, near instant feedback from fellow Redditors, and even coverage.
  • Your ideation can benefit from using Reddit. There are many subreddits focused on niche topics, so spend some time taking a look through to see which subjects resonate with your target audience the most by seeing what they’re talking about regularly.
  • When it comes to media list building, Reddit can play a huge part in finding the right contacts. A great way of doing this is to use the publications Redditors are sharing links to (it’s likely the publications that they’re reading are the ones you should be targeting!)
  • Make use of upvotes! Take a look at which posts are the most popular on specific subreddits, so you can view popular emerging trending topics.
  • Reddit is great for finding Data Sets you may not have found online otherwise. Try searching things like ‘r/datasets’ and ‘r/dataisbeautiful’.

Here are a few great Reddit add-ons:

  • Redditsearch.oi is a great site to search keywords in order to find out how often they’re being used on Reddit
  • Subredditstats.com contains detailed statistics on trending subreddits and posts
  • Unreadit is a weekly newsletter delivered straight to your inbox containing bitesize roundups of the best content on Reddit for the week – a great alternative if you don’t want to go ‘all in’

“Coverage, but at what cost? Being kind with Digital PR” – Abbi Connor (Builtvisible)

The phrase ‘Be Kind’ gained momentum in 2020 in response to Caroline Flack’s death. It’s a movement that continues to drive online conversation, and Abbi Connor spoke about how important it is for Digital PR professionals to take stock of the role our industry plays.

The talk focused on integrating ethical practices into your processes; from ideation, to research, to outreach and beyond:

  • Digital PRs contribute to both the good and bad sides of the media, whether we recognise it or not.
  • Approximately 90% of all media coverage is negative, as these stories tend to catch people’s attention. Sensationalist stories form 95% of media headlines, and in a recent study it was found that 65% of news organisations ignore mistakes in stories.
  • However, a recent university study unveiled that clickbait engagement isn’t actually as high as people may think. So, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that audiences are well aware of when they’re being ‘clickbaited’, so being authentic and honest with your headlines is the way to go.

“Creating a scrutiny-proof methodology for PR campaigns” – Katie Swann (Digitaloft)

In this talk, Katie taught the audience that if we really want our campaigns to perform well, they need to be able to stand up to scrutiny and have a strong methodology; giving us the ability to balance creative campaigns that stand out with both accuracy and integrity. 

This lesson focused on making controversial campaigns work with a solid methodology, considering your conclusions carefully, and remembering that intention is everything:

  • Clients need to know that you represent their brand with integrity, and that you take responsibility for the public view of their brand when you launch a campaign.
  • PR campaigns can be controversial, while still being accurate; all they need is a solid methodology.
  • In order to create a strong methodology, you must include: a source list, explain each ranking factor, talk about how you ranked the data, and include links to all of your sources. Leave nothing to the imagination.

Great Reputable Sources:

“Hacks to ideate, outreach and manage your time smartly in a fast-paced agency” – Marina Plummer (Kaizen)

As many of us know, life as a Digital PR can be busy. In this talk, Marina provided tips and tricks to make life easier and more productive, from coming up with ideas under pressure, to turning a new angle around in a matter of hours. 

Here are the top tips I took away:

  • Taking a day off of outreach to perfect your email is okay – the perfect email will save you so much time in the long run!
  • Create a quote bank for your clients: time management is making gradual preparations for success whenever you have spare time – anyone in the team can add to it, and client access to the documents means amendments are quick and easy to update which saves you writing and waiting for approval when the time comes to use it.
  • Don’t let a campaign go on for too long without success. If a campaign isn’t getting off to the right start, take action to catch what’s going wrong. Outline the original launch date, number of emails outreached, angles tried so far and open rates, and reflect on what isn’t working. 
  • Personalisation is time-consuming; journalists care about being sent a great story, don’t sweat the ‘smooshy’ stuff if you’re stressed for time.
  • Saving time when ideating is about a constant awareness of media trends; if a journalist is covering a topic/trend, chances are they will be open to receiving stories about similar subjects. Pay constant attention to the world around you!

Brand Mentions vs Links: Making PR Coverage Work Harder for SEO – James Brockbank (Digitaloft)

James’ talk focused on the ever-changing landscape of the Digital PR world, and how what once may have gained hundreds of links may now only result in a few. After speaking to journalists about their thoughts on linking to external sources, here’s what we learned:

  • Only 51% of journalists say that they always link out to external sources as standard
  • “We almost never link to outside sites. The only instances in which we do is when those sites have information that we think is useful to consumers and that it’s not possible to reflect all the information in the story” – Journalist Quote
  • “There has to be added value to doing so [linking out], because it takes our readers away from our own sites” – Journalist Quote
  • To earn links, your content must add ‘editorial value’ – something extra on the other end of the link. It isn’t enough to be linking directly back to your client’s landing page. Ask yourself: will this link benefit the audience reading the piece?

Create content that travels –Laura D’Amato (Verve Search)

With experience working in 10 different countries, Laura taught listeners all about what you need to do to create content that travels across the world. 

Think translating a campaign in another language is enough? Think again! What you’ll need is a story that will translate and resonate with readers across the world.

  • It’s important to remember that journalists in international markets may not be as used to being approached by Digital PRs, so take this into account when approaching international publications. Make it clear what you want the journalist to do with the story.

There are 3 key elements needed to make a story travel:

  • A story that is culturally relevant for the journalists and their target audience
  • A solid methodology
  • A campaign with several angles (especially when you’re approaching a new market)

How to set your PR strategy on fire – Beth Nunnington (Journey Further)

This talk was made up of actionable tips for you to implement into your PR strategy straight away, with a strong focus on what being ‘relevant’ really means to Google.

Three Main Steps to Driving Performance through PR:

  • Be data-driven and relevant
  • Maintain an ‘always-on’ approach
  • Make your coverage work harder and prove ROI through paid media channels

Relevant, on-brand PR campaigns will make Google and your target audience happy. But, what do we mean by relevancy? 

  • Audience Interest (your data shows that the brand’s target market want to read about the topic)
  • Brand Authority (can the brand own the topic based on its expertise?)
  • Keyword Relevancy (the campaign aligns to the keywords that you want to rank for)
  • Topical (the campaign aligns to the news agenda)

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep on Nofollow Links: The Hidden Value of the Nofollow Link – Kristin Tynski (Fractl)

Ever been excited about a link, only to find out that it’s a nofollow? We’ve all been there. However, in this talk Kristin walked the audience through a different way to think about nofollow links and the impact they have on SEO and content syndication:

  • As search algorithms include more black-box AI, nofollow links are likely to provide different signals and value in different industries, at different times, and across different queries.
  • The ultimate goal is to leverage the natural network effects of traditional and social media – there is no difference between follow and nofollow links when it comes to these dynamics
  • Potential for syndication is an “orders of magnitude” difference maker, where follow status has no bearing. “Success is predicated on syndication potential”

The summit was a great online event which gave PR professionals a space to learn more, and enabled digital PR’s to share their favourite tips and tricks to help many other people in the industry launch successful, insightful, relevant campaigns. 

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