When it comes to creating a stand-out digital PR campaign, I’m of the opinion that you fall into one of two categories: either you find it easy breezy and ideas come to you quite naturally, or it feels like mission impossible every time you try to think of an original concept. For the latter, I get it, I’ve been there many, many times.
That said, I disagree that someone is ‘just not a creative person’. It might take a little bit longer to get there, but with the right tools, process and time, I honestly think that anyone is capable of ideating fantastic concepts.
The secret is to lean into your individual skill set (whatever that might be), to look at and think about a topic from YOUR perspective – because that will be totally unique to you. What is it that you find interesting? What is it that you want to read? What is something you’ve not seen before? Don’t worry about whether it’s the ‘done thing’ in Digital PR – be original and be yourself, because that’s what makes an idea unique and that’s creativity.
These are some of the methods I use to kick-start creativity, with a couple of tips and tricks on how to fashion those ideas into a stand-out campaign that lands coverage.
It All Starts with Research
Many moons ago during my first work experience, one of my superiors stated the quote, ‘If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’. To this day, I think about that comment almost daily.
In order to create something impactful in the press, you need to prepare and research both the sector and your target audience, particularly if it’s in an area you’re unfamiliar with.
Understand the Media Landscape in That Sector
- What does the news cycle look like, and how reactive is it?
- What are the popular recurring themes being covered by the press?
- What outlets are covering these stories and is there an overarching bias/ media sentiment?
- Are there any seasonality trends/annual events/recent industry movements
- Are there a lot of preexisting campaigns in this space to take inspiration from?
What Are the Competition Doing?
- Who are they, and what do they talk about (both onsite and offsite)? Is there a correlation?
- How are they spoken about in the media and what coverage do they currently have?
- Are they actively doing any PR activity? If so, what are they doing and where did it place? It can be really valuable to get insight into the kinds of content that have worked well for your competitors, this should steer ideation towards themes that have already been tried and tested. You can take learnings from both their failures and successes.
Who Is Your Target Audience?
- Ask yourself, who do I want to read my story? What interests them? What do they care about? Where do they get their news from?
- If you can’t pinpoint one or two different groups of people your story appeals to, it’s not specific enough and you may want to look for another angle. The journalist will know their reader inside and out, and they expect you to have an understanding of that too.
What Are Clients’ Unique Selling Points?
- What has the client told you is their point(s) of difference? If you can manage to angle a campaign around that then it’s a win-win – you have a happy client and probably something original in the press.
- If they haven’t mentioned they have one, have a dig around on their website to see if you can pull a few key phrases and read between the lines on what you think has commercial relevance and potential press appeal.
- If you’re still at a loss, can you help create one for them? This will depend on how receptive and collaborative they are as a client.
Time to Pull Heads Together
- When you’ve done all your research, you’ll want to collate it into a sheet and pull it together with fellow DPRs, an SEO, a Creative and someone from Data.
- By having the expertise of someone from each field included during ideation, you ensure your campaign is relevant, viable and realistic. There is absolutely nothing worse than coming up with a cracking idea, only to be told it’s either too expensive from a creative standpoint or there is no accessible data.
- Involving SEO from the outset also means you can get insight into some of the more technical aspects of DPR, keywords and target pages in particular. Your content needs to be SEO-optimised if you’re going to achieve the best possible results for the client in both the short and long term.
Finally, Sense Check It
This part is particularly crucial and quite easy to be overlooked when getting caught up in ideation – ask yourself;
‘Is this newsworthy?’
‘What makes this news?’
‘Why would someone want to read about this?’
‘What new information am I adding?’
Good ways to sense-check your story; one, get another DPR to review it, and two, get someone who is not in your industry (preferably in the target audience) to check it over as well.
Are you focusing on the right angle? In order for a story to stand out, it has to have two or three key hooks. That allows you to re-angle the narrative to a few different publication niches and maximise the number of links achieved through one campaign.
If it’s a data-led story, the validity and strength of that data need to be watertight. Don’t get caught out by having a potential placement opportunity in Forbes, only for the journalist to tell you your data source is sketchy… this happened to me once and it’s safe to say I was pretty gutted.
In Digital PR, there’s a really fine balance between creating a campaign/story that promotes the client, holds press appeal and also appeals to the target reader. Go too far one way and your story presents like an advertorial which is unlikely to achieve coverage without payment.
With the right techniques and tools, creating a story that’s original and will stand out in the media is a skill that can be learnt and improved on. If you’re struggling with ideas, do all your research and then go out for a walk, or do whatever allows you to switch off – let your imagination work its magic because you always can’t force these things. Just make sure you have either a pen and paper or your notes app with you to jot ideas down. I promise you, there is nothing more infuriating when you finally get that lightbulb moment, only to forget it 30 minutes later.
Drop me a line at [email protected] or on 0161 327 2635 if you fancy a chat about how we can work together to create standout PR content that lands the press and drives sales.