Attending Brighton SEO is one of the highlights of the year for hundreds if not thousands of digital marketers out there. And I was honoured to be able to attend Brighton SEO 2022 not just the full conference but one of the training days that took place the day before.
That means I got to see that huge Brighton SEO banner and walk along the seafront before things got really busy.
Here’s an overview of my time at the event, covering each of the three days. My colleague Susan attended virtually, so keep an eye out for her review too!
Content Creation for Digital PR (Advanced) Training Course
Day one of my Brighton SEO experience was dedicated to a wonderful training course on content creation for digital PR. We all sat in a conference room that didn’t seem to know there was a setting between boiling and freezing while Hannah Smith, the course trainer, asked us all why we were there.
My answer? Because I’ve tried digital PR precisely once in my seven-year digital marketing career (at a different agency to Boom)… and it went horribly wrong! Hannah’s response – “everyone’s been there.”
Nicely reassured, especially with the number of nods from people around the room, I started to feel excited about maybe one day dipping my toe back into the world of digital PR. Here’s what was covered:
What Every PR Brief Should Include
Firstly, every campaign should include the exact publications to be targeted. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list, just the top contenders – five to ten. This allows research to be carried out and ideation and validation (more on this later) to have the best chance of success. Every PR brief should also include:
- The exact website (and page) to be linked to.
- A list of topics the client is not willing to entertain.
In addition, it would be nice if every PR brief also had the following:
- Topics the client is keen to explore.
- An overview of who they are hoping to attract to their site through this campaign.
- Examples of content published elsewhere that the client wishes they had thought of.
We then discussed the metrics that should be used to measure the success of a piece. We agreed on the following, although this may change based on the campaign – as always, there’s no rule of thumb:
- Increased organic traffic.
The PR Creative Process
After a quick coffee break, Hannah then took us through the three stages of the creative process:
We learned about the concept of remakes vs remixes, which I’d already heard Hannah speak about in a previous talk. (There’s a great write up on the topic here) Interestingly, when taking on a PR campaign, Hannah spends most of her allocated time in this section of ideation. And with good reason – without inspiration, there’s no idea.
She also gave us a great cheat to use when we have that list of target publications our clients would be psyched to get coverage on, using either Buzzsumo or Ahrefs to see what kind of posts they’re interested in publishing:
- Search domains or subdomains.
- Read articles.
- Search domain and topics.
- Search just topics.
- Brainstorm more topics.
This may read as a little repetitive and time consuming, something that time-poor PRs don’t have, but remember that journalists need to be able to write up coverage for your idea within 15 minutes, so being as entrenched in what they will be willing to cover is crucial for success.
Hannah also encouraged us to create swipe files – essentially any campaign you see that catches your attention gets saved so that you have a smorgasbord of ideas at your fingertips to scroll through. Say goodbye to that annoying problem – I’ve seen something really cool that we could use…but I can’t find it…
Next is the process of generating ideas. Hannah stressed here that these shouldn’t be fully formed. This is the area where Hannah spends the least amount of time, and the way she works is similar to what we do at Boom when brainwriting to generate digital PR ideas.
Essentially, once you’ve spent time gathering inspiration, you set a timer and write down headlines, questions that may be interesting to answer and other ideas. The ideas can be absolutely anything, it doesn’t have to be on-brief or even on-brand at this point, that comes later.
If you can get 100 ideas down in, say an hour, then there will be a handful of scrawling’s that are valid ideas that can then be built upon and taken to the client.
With your, say, 100 ideas, it’s time to go through and find the gold. Taking a shortlist, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the idea on-brief?
- Is it right for the brand?
- Is it a remix or remake? If so, make sure there’s a solid reason why the original was successful.
- How many publications are likely to cover it?
- In what verticals, countries etc?
- How many stories can we get out of one PR campaign?
- Does this idea evoke emotion?
- Is there any risk associated with this campaign?
This should help you further narrow down your ideas until you have a handful of really compelling options to present.
Saving a Campaign
There will always be campaigns that have us tearing our hair out two weeks down the line when you haven’t had a single response to an outreach email.
In these instances, Hannah didn’t tell us to shrug our shoulders and move on to the next campaign. Instead, she gave us this advice:
- Ask yourself if the coverage you were aiming for was realistic.
- Go back and look to see if there is something in your pitch that might have put a journalist off.
- Is something happening in the newscycle that may be taking everyone’s attention? Can you hop on it?
- Go back through your data, is there a better angle that you can try?
- Does your campaign need an expert comment? Additional asset? Further research?
- Is it the campaign, or the email pitch that’s the problem? (You can tell this by looking at your email open rate – if people are reading and passing, your problem is likely your pitch).
This is quite literally a snapshot of the training day. If I wrote about absolutely everything we covered…well, you’d be reading for a very, very long time!
I left the training more enthusiastic than ever about digital PR, and was buzzing for day two of Brighton SEO 2022, and day one of the SEO conference!