If 2020 taught us anything, it emphasized the reliance brands have on digital tactics and driving inbound traffic in a virtual world. Today, businesses will need to focus on using a combination of organic and paid digital marketing strategies to achieve their PR goals.
Here are 20 actionable ways to elevate your brand in 2021.
Monitor Your Mentions
Monitoring the conversations already happening online about your brand can often be overlooked. Bloggers and influencers may be posting great content online about your brand, and you may not even know it! These can also be opportunities to build relationships with these content creators or editors to create even more positive content in the future. Here are a few tools you can use to do this:
Sign Up for HARO
This is an excellent tool for brands looking to get featured in publications. Essentially, editors and journalists actively look for brands to write about (queries come to your inbox), and you submit a pitch to the editor to feature your brand. Read more about how it works and sign up as a source.
Distribute Press Releases
These should only be used for news that is deemed newsworthy. Before you distribute a news release, double-check that it meets at least one of the 7 elements of newsworthiness. Just distributing the release will only take you so far, and more valuable placements come through targeted pitching. It’s not recommended to email the main press release email of a publication (ex. [email protected]). Instead, find a journalist that publishes precisely your type of content. It also helps to reference the previous work of a journalist in the pitch. Also, if your story includes a strong visual element, add photos in your press release.
Create Your Digital Newsroom
You might be living in 2011 if you don’t have a digital newsroom on your website yet. Having a spot on your website (or in the cloud) that you could direct editors to will take the pain out of them having to find information themselves. At a minimum, you should include press releases, a company backgrounder, a fact sheet, a photo gallery, etc. You want it to be as easy as possible for journalists to find content to use at their disposal.
Host Events and Invite Journalists
If you host any annual events, consider personally inviting the press to your event to cover. Offer an incentive for them to come. More than likely, if they attend, they will do a write-up summary of the event for their publication.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Take control of all your online profiles (Trip Advisor, Yelp, Google My Business, etc.). Make sure you build out these profiles with professional images, updated descriptions, etc. It also helps to monitor reviews and ratings people leave, responding to both the negative and positive feedback your business receives.
Find and Pitch Roundup-Style Articles
There are hundreds of articles online that do “roundup” style blogs. You can find these by searching on Google. For example: “7 places to vacation in Antigua.” Look at the article’s content and if it closely applies to your business, consider sending them a pitch (via email) to get added to their list. Make sure to provide a blurb in the pitch about your brand to use in their roundup (hint: Make it as easy as possible for them!).
Build Links to Your Site (Link Building)
This is an SEO strategy that can help boost traffic organically to your website. It involves getting a link from your website somewhere else on the internet. The link-building process is more a digital marketing tactic, but it can help in the long-run. While link building relies on a complex algorithm that takes plenty of factors into account, focusing on getting links back to your website is the central concept. Read more about successful link building here.
Pitch Publications You Want to Be Featured In
You found a publication your brand would fit it perfectly? Great! Find specific articles on those publications’ websites and pitch that specific editor. If it’s the type of content they have published in the past, the rate of them mentioning your brand goes up exponentially. Remember, public relations is all about leveraging a mutually beneficial relationship. You give them content, and they give you visibility.
Keep an Active Media List
Keep a running list of editors that you have pitched or ones with which you have an existing relationship. I recommend checking out the Hubspot CRM, which is free and a great way to keep and store contacts. Keep in touch with them and let them know when you have news or a press release that may be of interest to them.
Explore Influencer Marketing
Partner with other people or brands that have a large audience following to help promote your business. Sometimes this means exchanging services for exposure. Buzzsumo is an excellent place to start to find individuals who may be promoting your type of content already.
Content Marketing & Social Media
Start a Blog
Blogs are great ways to boost visitors to your site. Users can find your content (organically) and be driven to your domain. You can have blog posts about almost anything tangential to your brand. For example, suppose you own a small historical restaurant in Key Largo. In that case, you can write anything from “7 Places to Visit in Key Largo” (include your restaurant on that list) to “3 Celebrities that Have Visited the [name of resturant].”
Use Social Media
In most cases, your target audience will likely be on Facebook and Instagram. Consider doing paid or promoted posts to help get in front of your audience. Paid tactics should be in addition to regularly posting organic content. If you are looking to get experimental, try testing out TikTok and Instagram Reel content if you have a younger audience.
Sponsored is a way to get an article (or content) published in an online or print magazine for a fee. Advertorials can be a great way to reach your target audience. However, before you try sponsored content, reach out to the individual editors for the publication you are interested in beforehand with a story idea to see if they would be willing to do a free story. Sometimes, you may pay thousands of dollars and not receive a significant return on investment. Always see if there is a free route to get to your destination first!
Build Up Your Email List
Consider using an email automation tool to keep in touch with people who have already interacted with your brand. Building an email list can be the most sustainable and effective form of digital marketing.
Run Google Ads
Google Ads is a great way to find reach people anywhere they may be browsing on the internet. Google search or display is generally an excellent supplement to other forms of marketing and PR.
Run Facebook / Instagram Ads
Social ads are suitable for targeting specific demographics and interests. Facebook and Instagram advertising can also drive brand awareness. Please think of this as a supplement to other forms of public relations as well.
Run Print Ads
Print advertising is not dead! With that being said, print ads reach extremely niche audiences today. These are also good options if you have a visual component to your brand since print ads usually have to be visually-appealing or eye-catching to be effective. Before you invest in print ads, make sure you have nailed down your audience.
Use Google Analytics
If you do not yet have Google Analytics setup for your website, set that up! You can set up goals and measure conversions this way. You can also monitor where your traffic is coming from and the performance of each channel. Once you understand the data, you will be a bit more strategic with where you invest in promotional tactics.
Use UTM Tracking
UTM tracking is one of the best ways to track the performance of campaigns. You tie specific link tags to each tactic, and it helps you understand how different strategies are working for you. For example, if you have a tagged UTM link in a publication, you will be able to measure how many times that link was clicked, driving referrals to your site.
What other public relations strategies do you see becoming popular in 2021? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below!