The role of research in designing a digital PR campaign 

Editor’s note: Michał Jońca is community manager at Passport Photo Online. Jońca is based in Warsaw, Poland.

Digital public relations is a marketing strategy pivoted around creating and managing relationships with journalists, bloggers and other key online influencers to promote your brand or product and increase your SEO visibility. It involves creating valuable knowledge assets and promoting them to appropriate media contacts.

The person who mastered the digital PR strategy is undoubtedly Brian Dean. The founder of Backlinko pivoted his marketing strategy to digital PR and achieved great results, becoming one of the most recognized bloggers in the world.

As for the digital PR itself, consider three main goals:

  1. High-quality backlinks. It's not a secret that backlinks are one of the key ranking factors. Creating valuable content and promoting it to the right people will result in getting high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites.
  2. Improved brand awareness. By creating interesting and shareable content, you increase the chance that your target audience will see it and become aware of your brand.
  3. Relationships. Unlike other marketing channels, digital PR is all about building relationships. If you manage to build strong relationships with journalists and bloggers, they will be more likely to write about your brand in the future.

Now that we know what digital PR is and what goals it pursues, let's move on and see how research can help you create a successful campaign.

Designing digital PR campaigns

The digital PR process consists of three phases: ideation, research and realization. But before describing each phase, I'd like to underline the key meta-element of a successful process – the area of interest.

1. Define the area of interest. The first step of a good digital PR strategy is identifying the area of interest. Limiting your marketing activities to a specific area allows you to be seen as an expert in that field. As a result, you'll get more opportunities for media coverage and links from high-authority websites. What's crucial is the decision about the scope of your topic coverage should always be compatible with the whole SEO and marketing strategy. 

2. Ideation. The ideation phase is all about generating ideas for content that will help you achieve your marketing goals. The most important issue in the case of this phase is to limit it by frameworks. 

To provide the appropriate and ordered workflow of an ideation phase, you must choose the initial criteria defining whether the idea is worth your attention or not. They should be objective, measurable and universal, which makes them applicable to the whole ideation phase. Criteria should answer some questions about the suggested topics, for example:

  • Is it in our vertical?
  • Does it have a broad appeal?
  • Can it be helpful to journalists and bloggers?
  • Is there enough data to support it?
  • Is it evergreen?

The ideation process shouldn't be chaotic. To make the most of your time, use templates to curb the temptation of coming up with ideas outside the scope of your project. It can be as simple as using Google Docs – anyone can copy and fill in the necessary information.

Finally, you must remember to create rules for choosing the topic for your next digital PR campaign.

Consider the ICE (impact, confidence and ease) scoring method. Each answer is a number in a range from 0 to 10. The higher the total score, the more interesting and promising the idea is.

  • I – How will this idea affect our business goals?
  • C – How confident are we that this idea will work out?
  • E – How easy is it to implement the idea?

3. Research. Research is the foundation of your digital PR campaign's success (or failure). You must understand what information will help you achieve your business goals. Begin with in-depth keyword research and then gather data to back up your content. You can use primary and/or secondary data.

Primary data is fresh but can be time-consuming and expensive to collect. Secondary data is readily available and doesn't require much time to find. However, it might be outdated or irrelevant.

You can create amazing content, but what is the point if you don't know where to publish it? To make your digital PR campaign successful, you must also conduct media contact research to identify who will be interested in your story.