The fast-evolving news cycle, especially during the past year, has made digital PR experts take a step forward in their outreach strategies. With all the changes and breaking news experienced in 2020, digital PRs have introduced traditional PR communications techniques as part of their approach. This is the case with ‘always-on link building’, more commonly known as newsjacking.
Always-on is a PR strategy that occurs in two main scenarios. One is when a journalist has a content request, and the PR provides them with information that answers that request and helps them with their piece. With the second, which has a more proactive approach, the PR will be pitching comments to relevant journalists based on recent or upcoming news or events that might be of interest to journalists – even if they haven’t requested that information.
For example, as July is ‘plastic-free month’, we created a piece for one of our clients within the packaging and logistic industry bringing awareness to how much plastic ends up in the oceans. By jumping on this key date, we managed to earn great pieces of coverage from One Green Planet and Business Insider, among others.
In both scenarios, this type of activity requires quick responses and turnarounds, and for your content to have a strong connection with the news you’re trying to link your client to. The always-on technique has been commonly used in traditional PR for some time but, with the fast-changing news cycle we experienced last year due to the pandemic, it’s been quickly adopted by digital PRs too. It’s the perfect technique to use if you’re looking to impact results in SERPs in between campaigns and maximize your PR efforts.
What are the benefits of using always-on link building?
Using this technique as part of your marketing and SEO strategy can bring numerous benefits, including:
Increasing brand awareness across different types of media demographics – this technique allows you to create more flexible content that will be appealing to new media verticals
Expanding your media demographics, contributing to higher reach – which translates into an amplification of the brand’s audience
Increasing organic traffic – resulting in a bigger and strengthened backlink profile
What makes an always-on link building strategy successful?
Time and relevancy are key to a successful always-on strategy. The benefits of this technique are great, but there are a couple of considerations you need to bear in mind:
With always-on, timing is everything. If an event is happening, like the Oscars or the Baftas, the comment or content that the PR wants to pitch to the journalist needs to be sent within 20 minutes of the news breaking.
However, you also need to consider that if an event is happening in the evening it’s likely that, apart from the journalist covering the event, the rest of the staff will be at home. So, depending on the nature of our content, you might need to consider pitching it the next day. Keep in mind that journalists have personal lives too. So, while having a quick response is useful, never forget that you are speaking to human beings.
Time is also important when it comes to working with a client. You need to be sure that the client or business you’re representing can provide you with the content you need within a certain time frame. It’s important to build strong relationships with your clients so that you’re able to understand if they will be suitable to get involved in this type of PR activity and persuade them to commit to faster turnarounds when needed. Being creative with the content for your always-on strategy is important, but so are the logistics of managing the process for it.
As PR professionals, we squeeze every opportunity we can to get our clients featured in the media. However, it’s important to remember that not every request is suitable for your client to jump on. Before pitching a journalist’s request to your client, some questions to ask are: can my client provide substantial knowledge or relevant comments on this topic? Is this the type of publication that it’s appropriate for my client to be featured in? Will this benefit my client from an SEO point of view? If the answer to some of those questions is ‘no’, you might need to go back to the drawing board and look for other opportunities.
A great example of this is when we spotted a journalist request asking for info around ‘nudes from ex-partners’ and thought that one of our clients from the law and abuse industry might be perfect for the collaboration. After asking the above questions and getting a ‘yes’ to all of them, we decided to share the request with the client and pursue the opportunity, which brought us a nice piece of coverage from GQ.
Always-on is becoming a technique that’s used more and more often by digital PRs, particularly because they’ve had to adapt to the constantly-evolving news cycle. This technique requires a great knowledge of the media sector and relevant events, deep understanding of the clients that you’re working with, and being able to provide content quickly. In return, the clients’ brand awareness will increase, their reach will be maximized, they will be identified as authorities within their industry, and it will generate organic traffic to their website.
Ariadna Gonzalez, senior digital PR consultant at Greenlight.