SEO and Content Marketing Blog

How DIY Digital PR Can Get You Media Coverage Part II [Startups]

digital pr for media coverage

As we discussed in part I of our Digital PR DIY series, there are a lot of things which can help you get coverage from reputable media outlets, acquire valuable backlinks and raise your brand’s awareness.

Now that you know how to get your content out there, it’s time to look inward and make sure you’re creating content that counts.

Learn some useful tips on how to optimize your content for the web, how to get ideas for brilliant stories, and check out our recommended tools for measuring the success of your digital PR efforts below.

Focus on Media Coverage and Link Building

Two of the main objectives of digital PR efforts are to get media coverage and to acquire backlinks from authoritative online sources. This is important for every online business, but for startups it’s a matter of life or death.

Types of media coverage you can get:

  • You are getting a citation or a tag, without a direct link to your content if your brand was mentioned in a post. For example, in an article about the most promising startups of the year, you might see your name but without a link.
  • You might get a nofollow backlink, for example if you’re using a platform for press-release distribution such as PR Newswire — their PR messages usually contain nofollow links.
  • Dofollow links are the ones you should aim for from an SEO perspective. You are getting them when some websites publish a link to your content, as part of a their own story or news. This gives you link juice and exposure. The only trouble is, you can’t control the context in which the article is perceived if it’s negative or unwanted. But at the end of the day, you can always ask the webmasters to remove the link if it’s not helping your brand.

What Makes a Great Story?

“Post on Pulse,” recommends Michael Peggs, CEO of Marccx Media.

This is valid not only for promoting your content, then when it comes to creating a good story: you would want to be looking at current issues affecting the industry and what’s already out there about the specific topic you’re writing on.

You can use tools and bookmarking platforms alike to discover great stories and get ideas for your own newsworthy article.

“Journalists are scanning pitch after pitch, looking for stories that will be interesting or of service to their particular audience.” – says Amanda Hicken, Contributor, @PRNewswire in her article 6 Brand Stories the Media Wants That You’re Probably Not Telling.

Stories well-told provide an emotional draw and a relevant connection to the audience you want to reach. As our Content Lead Anna Karadzhova puts it:

“Good storytelling is about emotional impact. Show the reader you understand them and care about their pain points, whether in business or in life more generally.”

How SEO Tips and Tools Can Help You Create Exceptional Stories

“Benchmark the client’s visibility against keywords and phrases that align with their strategic objectives, then create optimized content, or provocative pitch ideas that position them at the forefront of the issues/trends their customers care most about.” – Daniel M. O’Brien, President, http://www.techimage.com.

Beyond discovering keywords which will improve your content’s ranking, keyword research can help you find out what the competition and the media outlets are already writing about, and give you a doorway to a new angle. You might find there’s a niche you can fill or an unconventional way you can present information already available.

Here are some more SEO-related Digital PR tips:

  • Two free tools you can use to get ideas for keywords with high buyer’s intent are Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner and KWFinder.
  • Run the selected keywords through Buzzsumo and filter by date to show only recent publications. This will give you an idea of what topics have been shared the most.
  • You can also search http://visual.ly/ and filter by trending. Visuals and infographics tend to be shared more easily, so what better way to find your next story idea, than to look what is trending?
  • Google Trends can give you a comparison between the search volume of two or more key terms. This is useful when you’re writing about brands or products, for example.

Furthermore, as our SEO lead Kristina Maglova points out, well-executed SEO would amplify the reach of your story:

“SEO helps exceptional stories get found easily online and be appreciated by the right audience. By doing carefully targeted keyword research and topic modelling, SEO assists digital PR in ultimately spearheading brand visibility. Writing and sharing insightful and appealing content and getting links from great sites means mass publicity and coverage.”

Once you’ve done your keyword research and have ideas for a story, it’s a good idea to look at the most influential media outlets and their articles, to see what topics and stories they are covering. This would not only give you great ideas for your story, but also help you in elaborating a concise and appealing e-mail pitch.

A reputable media outlet from an SEO perspective is one which has a high DA:

“The simplest way to evaluate a website in terms of credibility and authority is to look at their Domain Authority. It’s a complicated metric that is generated by analyzing a lot of data from different sources. DA gives us an idea of how a certain webpage ranks compared to another one.” – Nikolay Linkov, Project Manager, Hop Online, @nicklinkov

You can use the MOZ Open Site Explorer free tool for up to 3 websites. Rule-of-thumb: usually, mainstream media has a high DA (New York Times, WSJ, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, etc.).

Another point to consider is the relevance of your story, which we discussed earlier in this series.

Headlines and Subject Lines: Tips and Tools

When you are ready with the planning of your story, it’s time to create a captivating headline.

You can use the CoSchedule free headline analyzer to test your headline’s strength. Emotionally-laden headlines normally tend to get more clicks, and so do titles with negative words (e.g. “no” “never” “worst”) and numbers (listicles).

Also think about optimizing your headline for different social media channels and come up with a few variations. You can get very good title ideas using Portent’s Title Maker.

Also, do consider the subject line for the e-mail pitch you will be sending out to journalists, bloggers and media outlets. You need to consider the relevance of your subject line. How would you make this person open your e-mail? What would grab their attention? Your subject line needs to be closely related to the content of your article. This would increase the chances of the person reading the e-mail, actually clicking on the article you are pitching. According to a survey conducted by Fractl, the recommended length of a subject line is under 10 words. Beyond the length, it is crucial to pay attention to the relevance for the publication, journalist or publisher you are pitching to. You can read a summary of the results from the survey here.

In summary: a good headline and subject line would ideally tell your story in an extremely concise and compelling form.

How to Measure and Analyze Your Success

Measuring and analyzing the success of your individual digital PR efforts is vital to long-term success. Make sure you find out what worked well for your Startup business and what didn’t, so you can plan better next time.

  • One way to measure your success is to track the response rate of your emails. A great tool to help you do this is SideKick. The free version allows you to track up to 200 emails per month.
  • You can also use free services for URL shortening, such as bit.ly to track the clicks on your links. For a more advanced approach, with specific metrics you can take advantage Google’s URL builder to create custom links for the separate social media channels where you’re outreaching, including for you e-mail campaigns. In this way, you would be able to determine which communication tools was the most efficient one.
  • Using tools such as SideKick and custom URLs in e-mails would give you an idea, where your efforts could be improved, i.e. whether you need a better subject line, a better pitch or simply the right contact.
  • Most importantly, you would want to look at the media coverage you have achieved, the number of links (do- and nofollow ones) acquired and their quality (high or low DA websites). From an SEO-perspective, the best-case scenario is to acquire dofollow links from high DA sources.
  • If there is no direct link, you can track the citations and mentions of your brand, in addition to the number of social shares and mentions.

Together, all this data will give you a good idea of what you’ve done right and where you could have invested more time, so that you can focus on these points for your next campaign.

Do you have any questions on the topic? Would you like to add an important point we might have missed in our tips for DIY Digital PR? Please do share these in a comment and we’ll gladly include it in one of our upcoming blog posts. Feel free to contact us if you need help or advice with your Digital PR campaign.

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Kalina likes to spread great ideas. She is a social media and cultural enthusiast who enjoys sharing stories both on and offline. Kalina is always on the outlook for inspiration, loves engaging in innovative projects and helping startups reach a wider audience.


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