The rapidly evolving news cycle, especially over the past year, has taken digital PR professionals a step further in their outreach strategies. With all of the changes and breaking news in 2020, digital PRs have adopted traditional PR communication techniques as part of their approach. This is the case with ‘always-on link building’, better 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 will answer that request and help them with their contribution. The second, which takes a more proactive approach, will involve the PR providing relevant journalists with comments on current or upcoming news or events that may be of interest to journalists – even if they have not requested this information.
Since July, for example, is the “plastic-free month”, we created an article for one of our customers in the packaging and logistics sector that draws attention to how much plastic ends up in the oceans. By jumping to this important date, we’ve received great coverage from One Green Planet and Business Insider, among others.
In both scenarios, this type of activity requires quick responses and turnaround times, and your content needs to have a strong connection to the messages you want to link your customers to. The always-on technique has been used extensively in traditional PR for some time, but with the rapidly changing news cycle we saw last year due to the pandemic, it was quickly adopted by digital PR as well. It’s the perfect technique if you want to influence results in the SERPs between campaigns and maximize your PR efforts.
What are the benefits of always-on link building?
There are numerous benefits to using this technique as part of your marketing and SEO strategy, including:
Increase brand awareness across different types of media demographics – This technique allows you to create more flexible content that is attractive to new media industries
Expand your media demographics and contribute to a greater reach – which leads to a strengthening of the brand audience
Increase in organic traffic – which leads to a bigger and stronger backlink profile
What Makes an Always-on Link Building Strategy Successful?
Time and relevance are the keys to a successful always-on strategy. The benefits of this technique are great, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
With always-on, timing is everything. When an event is taking place, like the Oscars or the Baftas, the comment or content that the PR wishes to present to the journalist must be sent within 20 minutes of the announcement of the news.
However, you also need to keep in mind that if there is an evening event, the rest of the staff will likely be home besides the journalist covering the event. Depending on the nature of our content, you may need to consider pitching the next day. Remember that journalists also have a private life. A quick answer is useful, but never forget that you are talking to people.
Time is also important when it comes to working with a client. You need to be sure that the customer or company you represent can provide you with the content you need within a certain period of time. It’s important to build strong relationships with your clients so you can understand whether they are suitable for this type of PR activity and convince them to commit to faster turnarounds if necessary. It’s important to be creative with the content for your always-on strategy, but so is the logistics of process management.
As PR professionals, we use every opportunity to present our customers in the media. Note, however, that not every request is suitable for your customer. Before you send your client a journalist inquiry, you should ask yourself the following questions: Can my client provide in-depth knowledge or relevant comments on this topic? Is this the type of publication my client should be featured in? Will my client benefit from this from an SEO perspective? If the answer to some of these questions is no, you may need to go back to the drawing board and look for other options.
A good example of this is when we spotted a journalist request asking for information on “Ex-Partner Files” thinking that one of our legal and abuse clients would be perfect to work with. After asking the above questions and answering “yes” to all of them, we decided to share the request with the client and take the opportunity, which brought us nice coverage from GQ.
Always-on is becoming a technique used more and more by digital PRs, especially as they have had to adapt to the ever-evolving news cycle. This technique requires a deep knowledge of the media sector and relevant events, a deep understanding of the customers you are working with, and the ability to deliver content quickly. In return, customers’ brand awareness is increased, their reach is maximized, they are identified as the authorities in their industry and organic traffic is generated to their website.
Ariadna Gonzalez, Senior Digital PR Consultant at Greenlight.