Launching a PR campaign (in any capacity) will always involve a great deal of planning, foresight, creativity, and of course, a touch of luck. Keep in mind, executing a completely flawless PR campaign is impossible; there will always be curveballs and wrenches thrown into the mix that you simply anticipate. Moreover, there are all kinds of factors that are out of your control.
When you are planning a major PR campaign, the stakes are high and the risk is great. However, there are plenty of foundational practices to take in the planning process that will help to minimize the potential effects of the unknown.
Let’s talk about three of the big ones.
1. Be Sure that Your Website is Designed for Search Engines
At its core, PR is all about getting brand messaging and values in front of more sets of eyes. Your website should be thought of as the home base for your PR campaign. Seeing as over 90 per cent of online experiences begin with a search engine, you need to make sure your site’s content, landing pages and all digital assets associated with the campaign are properly optimized around current SEO ranking factors.
Step one in this process will require a bit of foresight. Given the nature of your PR campaign, you need to have an idea for the potential queries people will enter into the search bar. For instance, let’s say you are an online clothing store launching a campaign to promote your sustainable practices. You’ll want to do some keyword research to get a feel for the relevant terms and phrases being thrown around the web. Using Ubersuggest, let’s start with the query “environmentally friendly clothing.”
The results will yield a number of relevant terms along with their search volume. In this situation, you would want to enhance your e-commerce SEO by naturally peppering these keywords and phrases into the content, product pages, title tags, image tags, meta descriptions, etc., to help rank on the SERPs for relevant queries.
When looking at the search engines, always remember that their primary goal is to make life easy and convenient for the user. So, whether it’s the UX of your B2B e-commerce site, B2C, blog, or anything else that requires a web presence, every aspect of your platform should be as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. The search engines will reward you for it.
Now, you likely have a number of strategies beyond your website to get the word out about your campaign and lead people back to your website. However, making sure your home base is optimized for the search engines will do a lot to broaden the scope of your PR campaign and gather more interest.
2. Have Lots of Visual and Textual Content
As you surely know, the news cycle and flow of content these days never stops. When you are executing a major PR campaign, the goal is to produce valuable, relevant content and release it at the right time and in the right place. In most cases, this will involve a healthy mix of both time-sensitive and evergreen content. Evergreen content can ideally be used to provide genuine insight and value — regardless of the timing.
While the purpose of time-sensitive content is to capitalize on a current event and go viral, the purpose of evergreen content is to remain relevant to your target audience. Both have very important roles throughout a PR campaign. Ideally, you should create a respectable library of evergreen content to use in a slow news day.
Even though this might sound obvious, the PR content you create needs to incorporate a great deal of both visual and textual value. In other words, your content creation should include a range of different formats.
Keep in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for how you should disperse the creation of your content. However, it’s important to factor in where the landscape of digital marketing is headed. To give you an idea, if you plan on distributing content on Facebook, you need to create video — plain and simple. The big algorithm update in January of 2018 placed a clear emphasis on video content and how it fares in the News Feed. On a broader scale, it’s estimated that video will make up more than 80 per cent of online content by 2020!
That said, creating video content these days is perhaps the best way to visually engage target audiences and get the word out, and it’s something you should definitely splurge on in a major PR campaign. Last year, Hubbub and Barley Communications created an incredibly powerful video bringing attention to their PR campaign to recycle coffee cups:
The video did a fantastic job of visually illustrating the scale of the problem, as well as a potential solution. The social media activity related to this campaign led to more than seven million impressions and a reach of over three million on Twitter and Instagram!
Now, in terms of textual content, creating pieces like blog posts, guides, case studies, etc., are great ways to keep your flow of content consistent, while providing value and improving your SEO.
The goal is to have a bank of content to fill your calendar and ensure the messaging of your PR campaign stays in the public eye.
3. Be Sure to Stick to Your True Brand Image
When it comes to executing a PR campaign, the golden rule is to stay consistent with your brand image. If your PR content is sending mixed signals, you are only going to distort your message and confuse people. Now, remaining consistent with an image can sometimes be misinterpreted as always “playing it safe.” Keep in mind, remaining consistent DOES NOT mean that you should never take risks in promoting your image. A little bit of controversy can be a very powerful refresher. A great example of this is with Nike.
Since the beginning, one of the key themes that defines Nike’s image is the concept of rising above adversity. In September of 2018, Nike made controversial figure Colin Kaepernick the face of their latest campaign. For those who don’t know, Kaepernick is a former NFL quarterback who drew a great deal of criticism during the 2016 season. He knelt instead of standing during the National Anthem before games to protest police brutality in the United States. Since the 2016 season concluded, Kaepernick has not been signed or played a single game. Some believe this protest has kept him from being picked up by a team. Here is the campaign:
Many people were furious over this decision; some even went as far as burning their Nike products. However, if you look past all the noise on social media, this campaign is the epitome of “rising above adversity.” Furthermore, it gained worldwide attention within minutes of being released.
When it comes to a major PR campaign, the content, message, imagery, etc., will change; nonetheless, the underlying image you promote should remain the same. Each message you release should reinforce your values. Before any content is created and anything is launched into the public sphere, it’s always good practice to make note of what your brand image is, what you stand for, and how each message positively contributes.
Over to You
A major PR campaign can define a brand for years to come, both in a good way or bad. Your preparation stage should involve a critical look at both the long and short-term effects, potential interpretations of the message, and how it can properly scale in the non-stop news cycle and flow of content.
To reiterate, this requires a close attention to the search engines and how to optimize your website, a great deal of content creation, and of course, a commitment to remain true to your brand image and values.
About Manish Dudharejia:
Manish Dudharejia is the President and Co-Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.