Digital PR is one of the most effective and efficient ways to earn links at scale from authoritative top-tier websites and niche-relevant publications.
When you launch a great data-driven campaign with a strong story, earning tens of links as a result of your outreach efforts isn’t unusual – unlike many tactics which result in only single links.
Despite this, I’m of the strong opinion that links aren’t the only reason why digital PR should be a key tactic in your wider digital strategy.
Links may be among the primary reasons why many of us have begun to think like PRs, tell stories to earn links, and support our SEO strategies.
That said, it’s wrong to think that they’re the only way digital PR can benefit your brand.
There’s More to Digital PR Than Links
A successful PR campaign should be working far harder for you than just earning links.
While links as a metric of campaign success are unlikely to go away any time soon, there are other ways in which I believe we should also be analyzing our performance.
Understanding the wider benefits that digital PR can bring helps to give easy answers to questions from your client or your boss surrounding nofollow links or unlinked brand mentions.
It also allows us to demonstrate that our work is adding far more value than many assume.
From adding credibility to your brand to keeping yourself in front of your audience when they’re not in “buy” mode, here are five benefits of digital PR which aren’t links.
1. Stay in Front of Your Audience While They’re Consuming Content
Part of launching an effective digital PR campaign is knowing your audience and where they hang out online.
When you get this right, you’ll likely see placements and coverage from publications which perfectly align with your audience.
Let’s say, as an example, you’re running campaigns for a fashion retailer. While you’re likely not launching style guides (journalists can run these themselves so they usually don’t link out to third-party published guides), you could be hooking into celebrities, trends, or similar topics.
Your primary objective might be to land links to drive organic search growth. But getting your name in front of your audience in key publications while they’re consuming content, not looking to buy, can also be beneficial.
Just think about it.
A customer of yours is reading an article on Cosmopolitan, Glamour Magazine, or a similar publication where your campaign has been covered and sees that it was your brand who produced the content.
Even if they’re not about to purchase any time soon, it’s great for keeping yourselves as a familiar brand.
When your customers begin to associate you with being more than just a retailer, but a brand which entertains and informs and they can engage with, that connection becomes stronger.
This often indirectly leads to brand loyalty and sales.
2. Drive Targeted Click-Through Traffic to Remarket To
So this one may be cheating a little, but the main reason why us SEO professionals want links is that they’re a ranking factor.
When running ideation sessions to come up with concepts for campaigns, you need to think about linkability.
That’s the reason why a journalist should link to your campaign and not just cite you with an unlinked brand mention.
Typically, this is because there’s something of value on the other end of the link which makes it a key part of a journalist’s article.
Links drive click-through traffic and when you land coverage in topically relevant publications, that traffic is typically from users who could be a customer of yours.
Even though they’re unlikely to take any action and convert into a sale or an inquiry simply as a result of engaging with your digital PR campaign, it makes absolute sense to add the audience to your remarketing lists and target on social or display networks to drive further action and engagement.
3. Generate Social Engagement & Open Up Conversations
Digital PR campaign assets typically make for great opportunities to drive engagement on social media and strike up conversations with your audience.
It’s common knowledge that the most successful social engagement comes when a brand really knows their audience and is able to get into conversations which divide opinion.
Let’s say you launch a campaign which compares cities or countries or even comes out with a controversial headline; they’re all ways to generate discussions amongst followers and, perhaps more importantly, drive engagement.
It all comes down to knowing your audience and sharing campaigns which hook to their interests and opinions and when you get this right, social becomes another channel to drive further value.
4. Add Credibility to Your Brand Through High Profile Placements
Ever seen this?
If you’ve been featured in some of the world’s biggest publications, it’s only human nature to want to shout about it. Digital PR is a fantastic way to land such coverage.
Being able to showcase ‘as featured in…’ logos on your website can do wonders for credibility, especially if you’re working in an industry where trust plays a huge part in the decision-making process or you’re working for an unknown brand.
It’s a simple association; if a brand has been covered by top-tier press, it looks great and gives a sense of trustworthiness.
If you’ve had top-tier coverage for your campaigns, don’t be afraid to consider how you could use this to add further value and demonstrate credibility – whether that’s adding coverage to an “in the press” page or a more prominent featuring of logos.
5. Introduce Your Brand to New, Relevant Audiences
In an increasingly competitive online world, it can often be costly to get yourself in front of new audiences, especially those who are highly targeted, but this is another benefit of digital PR that is often forgotten.
Brand awareness is often thrown around in regards to PR, however, there’s no denying that it’s one of the definite benefits; so long as the coverage you’re landing is getting you in front of relevant audiences.
In many ways, it comes down to your approach to ideation, ensuring that campaigns make sense.
If you were a journalist, would you consider the brand producing the campaign to be an authority on the wider topic? At least in terms of being the ones to make comment on a dataset?
Topical relevancy is key to the wider success of digital PR campaigns.
When you can truly figure out the content which your audience wants to consume and how you can get involved in the conversations they’re having, you can start to demonstrate benefits which go far beyond link building.
What we must not forget is that earning the right links is a vital part of any successful SEO strategy. What I’m not saying is that these benefits are more important than links – far from it.
It’s simply about looking at the bigger picture and understanding how you can sell digital PR to stakeholders by demonstrating the value that goes beyond what your core KPIs and objectives may be.
I’ve had campaigns that delivered sign-ups or sales in noticeable volumes at half the cost-per-conversion of a well-optimized PPC campaign.
It’s not to say that these benefits come with every campaign.
When you’re able to demonstrate the value which you’re adding beyond links, it becomes far easier to secure budgets and buy-in from stakeholders in other areas of a brand than just the SEO team.
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Screenshot taken by author, July 2019