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Videos: The Digital PR Summit (Online) – August 11th 2020

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Digital PR
Home / Digital PR / Videos: The Digital PR Summit (Online) – August 11th 2020

Oh, how we’ve missed events and socialising with like-minded creatives (that’s you!)…

So, that’s why on 11th August, we took to Zoom to bring together some of the brightest minds in digital PR; because these times call for support, helpful tips, tricks, and sneaky insights… So, Digitaloft’s very own (and very first) online event, The Digital PR Summit, was born.

We were very humbled and excited to have over 800 people register for the event, and we hope you enjoyed attending the event as much as we enjoyed hosting it.

Here is a quick roundup of the Summit, the videos of the sessions, and some of the key takeaways from our wonderful speakers. 

If you want to watch the whole event back, you can do so on this playlist.

Olivia Smith, Digitaloft – Big Ideas: How to Come Up With & Validate Big Performing Campaign Ideas

Our very own Olivia kicked off the summit with her (first ever) talk, all focused on ideation and just how important it is! She began with a little background of herself, highlighting the growth of Digitaloft since she started and the transformation from ‘How to Cut Cheese’ to campaigns that bring in thousands of links… and how did this happen? IDEAS, or as Olivia said… ‘Great bloody ideas’.

“No links = unhappy clients” 

The root of everything is ideation. Without ideation, you have no links, which in turn, means unhappy clients. But how do you bring on the creativity and be swimming in ideas? And even then, how do you know those ideas are any good? Will those ideas perform?

After talking to our team, she understood that the biggest blockers are: knowledge, the client and customers, finding data, thinking outside the box, questioning whether it’s a good enough idea and… time.

TIME. It’s all about time. Olivia suggested making a meeting with yourself. Set that time aside and try to unlock your creativity; however that may be (Liv likes to listen to a bangin’ playlist). Don’t feel guilty for spending time on ideation, as it is SO crucial. No links happen without ideas.

KNOWLEDGE. The client is a great starting point for ideas. Who are they? What do they sell? Who is their target market? And most importantly, what do they want?

THE PRODUCT. Think of the physical and emotional side to your client and their brand. Think of what they are selling and then think what emotion they are selling…

COMPETITORS. The client competitors are a great place for ideation. Check keyword rankings and who is selling similar products. Once you know the competitors, don’t forget to analyse. Look out for common themes, interesting topics, buzzwords and any data sources. Ahrefs link intersect is a great tool for all of this as well as Ahrefs Link Explorer.

DATA. Some of the best ideas start with a juicy dataset, especially when it’s free, relatable, easy to obtain and trustworthy. Think government data, Google search trends, Spotify, other campaigns and even your client’s internal data. Inspiration often comes from other campaigns. But remember; inspiration, NOT repetition.

NEWS. As a PR you should live and breathe the news. Keep your eye on headlines, trending stories, current events and more…

VALIDATION. So, you’ve got a load of ideas but are they any good? Olivia provided everyone with five great questions to run your ideas through:

  1. Can we get the data?
  2. Has it been done?
  3. Does it resonate with a wide audience?
  4. Who will cover this?
  5. Is it right for the client?

3 Main Takeaways:

  • Take the time and don’t feel guilty for it – ideation is one of the most important processes within a digital PR campaign  
  • You can be creative even if you don’t think you are – immersing yourself in other people’s creativity will bring it out
  • Inspiration not replication – let work inspire you, don’t just copy it

Louise began her talk with a photo of Khloé Kardashian. Why? She reminded us of the endorsement between this super-rich celeb and Febreze. Yes, Febreze. Did they expect anyone to believe she has even touched Febreze in her life? 

The point is that it just doesn’t fit. It’s not relevant.

The relevance of your brand to your digital PR story is a hot topic of late and Louise explained how we need to find the right balance between aligning with your brand and hitting those link KPIs.

You can gain more from digital PR than just links. A relevant story makes a huge impact.

  1. Having a focus audience makes your ideation much easier. The metaphor Louise provided was great; she explained how children in a field will be much more likely to run and play freely if there are clear fences and boundaries. Bravo to this – we all love a relevant metaphor!
  2. Aligning with the brand and their audiences makes client sign off smoother. We all love an easy client sign-off, and of course, we live for happy clients!
  3. Creating relevant stories with an audience in mind helps you be seen as much more than just a link-builder. You can be a storyteller, giving readers relevant, topical and even emotive news.

Louise explored the different types of PR, from editorial to advertorial and beyond. However, it’s really not that simple. We need to find a balance of what appeals to the audience, what the brand stands for and of course, what the journalists want to cover. So, how?

  1. Immerse yourself in the brand – know your brand inside out, read reports, download investment docs, read interviews and look at previous PR stories
  2. Find audiences with search listening – “If you live your best life on Instagram, you live your real life on Google”. Your aim is to reveal the attitudes, worries, needs and desires of REAL people linked to your brand and product – Google (and other tools) are the key to this.

“Where should we go for dinner” The chances are in a group of friends there would be mixed opinions and choices. The same goes for your brand. No brand has only one audience. Focus your story on the specific audiences rather than trying to be ALL things to ALL people.

Louise also showed us the very insightful STEPPS model from Jonah Bergers with six helpful points on why things catch on. If you can tick all the boxes on this model, you are onto a winner. 

  • Social currency
  • Triggers
  • Emotion
  • Public
  • Practical value
  • Stories

Louise also gave us a sneak look into her own version of Berger’s model which is split into three factors and super digestible;

Relevancy; Brand & Audience
SEO; Breadth & Linkability
PR; Emotion & Social Currency

And if you thought the talk couldn’t get any better, Louise ended with her key to a great idea with her ‘elevator pitch’ structure: [Your rationale] Because __________ , [brand] has ___________ [your idea].

3 Main Takeaways:

  1. The most impactful digital PR stories align with both brand and audience, starting with insights on both can lead to a great relevant campaign
  1. “Who said being a digital PR was easy? A relevant digital PR story needs to appeal to journalists and your audience and align with your brand – all at the same time 
  2. “Next time you’re coming up with digital PR ideas, try filling out this sentence – you’ll easily be able to tell whether the idea ‘fits’ with your brand and audience

Abi Bennetts, Digitaloft – Pitch Perfect: The Psychology Of Writing A Great Pitch Email

In this talk, Digitaloft’s very own Abi takes her background of psychology and her love for storytelling and PR to explain why storytelling works, providing some top tips on how to choose the best stories for your digital PR campaigns.

Abi began by sharing her love of learning about people and how they interact with each other; hence her studies into psychology. You can see why the transition into PR happened…

Knowing the psychology of pitching and writing can help you tell great stories and ideas. After all, storytelling is pretty much our job. And, while we are all (as humans) natural storytellers, there’s a difference between telling a tale at the pub and pitching to a journalist… To write GREAT pitching, we need to be GREAT storytellers.

“I live for the links”

Abi let us in on six characteristics of persuasive stories:

  1. Delivery – like a great comedian, it’s all about delivery. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day. Grab the reader’s attention by using trigger words in your pitches.

Number + trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise = clickable headline (Web of Influence, Natalie Nahai, 2012)

  1. Imagery is essential – Studies have shown that the brain lights up when reacting to imagery. Link to a Dropbox folder of images but always check image usage rights.
  2. Realism – Add realism and reliability to your story by using expert quotes, advice or case studies. People relate and connect to human elements of stories.
  3. Structure – As humans, we like logic and logical structure/manner. Cut the waffle and hook journalists with your opening line. At this point Abi provided us with a great mnemonic to remember her go-to winning pitch structure:

Opening line > Obtaining
Long link > Links
Context > Can
Top 10 – Truly
Comment – Cause
Images – Immense
Extra Info – Excitement

  1. Context – While it’s not a popularity contest, if you aren’t genuine or come across as ‘likeable’ it can have an adverse effect. Be friendly and genuine, check your time, and get someone to check your typos. Be aware of the wider news cycle too, as this impacts how your story can be perceived.
  2. Audience – Audience has been a prominent point throughout the summit, showing just how important it is to know your audience. ‘Speak to them in their own language’, and mirror your audience; this could be writing how the journalist writes or writing your headline in a similar way.

“We tend to trust and like those who are similar to ourselves, so if you can mirror the tone and language of your audience, your message is likely to be more well-received” (Webs of Influence, Natalie Nahai, 2012)

Three Main Takeaways:

  1. We can use psychological principles to make our stories more persuasive.
  2. There are six key ways to make your stories more persuasive: Delivery, Imagery, Realism, Structure, Context and Audience.
  3. Make journalist’s lives easier and shoot your shot while you have your chance, and you’re on to a winner.

Jazmin Batisti, Verve Search – Get Your Head in the Game: A Different Way of Creating a Campaign

Jazmin is the design team lead at Verve Search and provided us with a unique insight into game campaigns and highlighting how brands don’t use this format enough.

You may think games aren’t suitable for your product, but during Jazmin’s talk, she showed us several examples of how to advertise a brand and grab the attention of audiences and the media by “gamifying” your content.

She also explained how to take the content even further by tracking, recording, and sending the results and data for outreach. Her talk was VERY visual so we would highly recommend watching the recording and seeing the brilliant visuals she has created.

Main Takeaways:

  • You can gamify anything: You can make games about any topic, even non-trivial ones.
  • – You can use games to bring attention to important issues: games can be used to bring awareness and educate the user by presenting the information in a more interactive way.
  • You can prolong the longevity of a game by creating additional assets.
  • You can widen your outreach options by collecting extra data.

Thierry Ngutegure, Rise at Seven – How I Went from Spending £100,000+ a year on Surveys to £0.00 – the Sources, Techniques & Hacks in Data for Digital PR

Thierry has roots in biological sciences and consumer economics and LOVES everything data. His talk looked closely at how we can reduce reliance on surveys and incurred data costs for digital PR campaigns. He ran us through various helpful tools, sources and techniques to deliver PR strategies that smash KPIs!

Kicking off his talk, he explained the fundamentals of data, explaining the difference between primary and secondary data. 

Primary – by you – surveys, focus groups, interviews, observations & experiments
Secondary – any data or research that was not conducted by you/your client

Surveys and snap polls when done right can be a great asset; key point – when being done right. They can be trusted sources, relevant, convenient and can provide multiple angles, which is always welcome from a PR perspective. But when should we use surveys? When it’s emotional or divisive when the data isn’t available or when it is time-sensitive.

One HUGE factor which came across was that you shouldn’t rely on surveys, and you should never start with that. Working backwards is always better – find your headline and THEN the data.

“Anyone who says ‘we should do a survey’ gets a time out”

Thierry then spoke us through a brilliant three-step model on how to build a strategy that isn’t reliant on surveys:

  1. Ideation – the most important part, and keeps popping up everywhere! Ask yourself these questions; is this a unique question? Is there a story here? Do people care? Does the data exist?
  2. Creation – can you collect the data yourself? Should you collect it yourself? Is the source the best way to tell the story?
  3. Execution – is this the best way to show the story? Is this still interesting?

Some alternative data source suggestions:

  • Freedom of Information requests
  • Site search data
  • Methodologies
  • Reddit
  • Secondary data collectors (the worst they can say is no!)
  1. Read every methodology – It’s a free blueprint into how an idea/campaign was built. Bank the sources and techniques!
  2. Don’t start ideas with “we should do a survey on” – build the idea then look at the best data to deliver it. 

Join Reddit, Chartr Daily & YouGov Daily – They’re inspiration goldmines!


Thank you to everyone who attended the Digital PR Summit and to those who took time to speak. We look forward to the next event, and of course, when we can all meet up again IRL! Until next time… Stay safe, wash your hands and get those links.

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