Reasons why your digital PR campaign is failing – and what to do about it

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 19 Apr, 2017
View comments Marketing
There are few things more rewarding as a business owner than seeing your brand name mentioned on the pages of a glossy magazine, a respected industry title or a national newspaper.

Digital PR fails

There is more to digital PR than mere vanity though, it also has SEO, traffic, reputation and brand awareness benefits. This makes it all the more frustrating when despite a steady stream of press releases and PR stunts, you simply can’t achieve the same level of coverage as your competitors.

If your digital PR is failing to hit the mark, you could be making one of these common mistakes. Read on to identify which pitfalls are tripping you up and how to navigate around them to start racking up virtual column inches.

1.You’re sending a sales pitch

This is easily one of the most common digital PR mistakes and it’s one that catches many a brand out. Journalists report facts and news stories. They convey interesting events, updates and developments to their audience. If you’re sending them a glorified sales pitch instead of an actual piece of news then your email is destined for the junk folder.

Imagine for example you are setting up a new consultancy business to help clients better secure their IT networks and important data. A sales pitch wrapped up as a PR might be that you have launched and that you have special offers available with discounts on annual service plans. This is not news.

A better approach would be to survey your customers and ask them why they might need to employ your services. How many are worried about their digital security? How many feel their data is more at risk this year than last? Generate some real data that measures concerns and sentiment and then tie your launch to that actual piece of unique news.

2.You aren’t targeting the right contacts

Building a list of worthwhile media contacts can take a lot of time, or a large investment in a specialist media database such as Cision or PR Web. There is a temptation to trawl the websites and blogs most relevant to your business and simply send a message to the general contact email displayed on site. This is a mistake and sends your news to a busy newsdesk rather than someone at the publication responsible for news about your particular industry. If you want to appear on the travel page, find the name of the travel editor by searching online articles. Call the publication or hunt online and get their email address.

Taking the time to identify who deals with your industry and collate their contact info can take time but, it’s the only way to put your digital PR in front of the right people.

3.You treat digital PR as a link building exercise

You wouldn’t put your AdWords manager in charge of writing your web content so don’t make the same mistake when it comes to digital PR. Acquiring highly authoritative, good quality and relevant links is often the driver for a digital PR campaign but it shouldn’t be approached as such. Chasing bloggers and other media outlets for links won’t yield the coverage you want. Likewise, simply churning out content with multiple links within the copy is an instant turn off for journalists.

Limit links in news or press releases to one or two. Accept that some outlets have nofollow policies and that sometimes, an outlet will use your piece and not include a link. Treat this as a brand building opportunity and move on.

4.You aren’t consistent

There are only so many media outlets to go around and your competitors will be chasing the same page of coverage you are. Competition for earned media exposure is fierce and to some extent, that makes digital PR a numbers game. While you want to maintain high standards and only send out information that is genuinely news driven or highly unique, you don’t want to leave it too long before sending out the next piece. A release a day in search of digital coverage is likely excessive but, a piece every couple of months is too little. Aim for a couple of times a month and be consistent about when you send out pieces to help build a rapport with media recipients.

5.You only send news releases

PR and news releases are the anchor of a great digital PR campaign – they are what keep journalists and bloggers informed of your news. If you don’t send them, the press has no idea what cool stuff you’re doing and there is zero chance you’ll get featured. But that doesn’t mean you should limit your digital PR activity to sending out releases.

Subscribe to a journalist alert service or search #prrequest, #bloggerrequest and #journorequest hashtags on social media. Reach out to offer your opinions and products when appropriate to help build coverage. Stories are created every minute of the day and those creators will often need facts, expert comment, opinions, quotes and products. Seize those opportunities too.

Digital PR does require an investment of time, resources and creativity. It can be frustrating and, the temptation to give up when your news doesn’t make any of your relevant industry or national press, overwhelming. In many ways, it is a numbers game though and, if you aren’t sending out news and telling journalists and bloggers about your achievements and developments, you stand no chance of achieving coverage. You have to be in it to win it!

Have you run a digital PR campaign for your brand? What roadblocks have you come across and how have you overcome them? Share your experiences with us in the comments. 

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