What It Is & How To Use It For Link Building

Over the past decade, we have seen an increase in the number of agencies and in-house teams that use “digital PR” without their digital marketing strategy focusing on the driving links that influence organic search performance. Huh.

Essentially, the SEO industry began by borrowing techniques the PR industry had been using for decades and applying them to the digital world.

This included things like:

  • building relationships with journalists.
  • Building Values ​​in the “Black Books” of contacts to use with different customers.
  • Integrating stories and hooks in content.
  • using press releases To get the attention of journalists (and not just for spammy link building!)
  • use survey data To drive content and stories.

This, along with the rise of content marketing as a link-building strategy, led to today’s digital PR industry.

For a while, much of digital PR activity happened through the creation of large-scale, “hero” campaigns that could take weeks or even months to put together and launch.

While these are still very active, over the past 18 months a new strategy has emerged within digital PR – reactive.

Today, I want to talk about Reactive Digital PR and give you an overview of how to know if you can use it, and how to get the most out of it if you try it.

What is Reactive Digital PR?

Reactive digital PR is when you spot an opportunity to gain coverage and links to a business and react quickly to seize that opportunity.

It is up to someone else (usually a journalist or news outlet) to publish a story that is appropriate for the business you are working with.

Then you react to that story. By its very nature, it can be difficult to plan how to take advantage of the opportunity.

Compare this to proactive digital PR, where planned campaigns aim to get the messages across to you. target audience that they may not have heard otherwise.

Is Reactive Digital PR for Everyone?

Definitely not.

Using Reactive Digital PR to be successful depends on several factors.

If these factors are a problem for your business, you may find that this is not a technology providing a good return on investment for you.

Here are some examples of what you should think about when you consider trying out Reactive Digital PR.

current relevance

Certain industries are naturally talked about in the news more often than others. Some will have clear, repetitive news cycles that allow you to predict when responsive digital PR opportunities will present to you.

For example, it is almost certain that the following will appear regularly in the news cycle:

  • Budget announcements from the UK government and its effect.
  • Christmas Gift Guide And the most popular toys every year.
  • housing market And the price goes up/down.

There are many more, but hopefully, you get the idea that the press will continue to discuss certain topics.

If you work in an industry where, simply put, not much changes or happens in the news cycle, then responsive digital PR can be a challenge.

It won’t be impossible, but you may need to temper your expectations and avoid spending too much time or resources.

On the other hand, if you work in an industry where the topic is discussed frequently, you will naturally have more opportunities to use responsive digital PR, which means you may decide to invest more.


As the name and process suggest, speed is essential for responsive digital PR.

You often need to respond to an occasion within a few hours or at most a few days.

Even if you’re fast, you can get bogged down by others trying to react quickly. If you can’t react quickly at first, you have little chance of the technique working.

Ideally, you should have a good level of trust and autonomy from the business and key stakeholders in order for Reactive Digital PR to work well.

When creating content or commentaries for a story, try to avoid long deadlines for approval or decisions by committees.

Even if you don’t have complete autonomy, reactive digital PR can still work if you have a stakeholder who understands the need to move quickly and do whatever you need to get approved in a timely manner. Can do.

realistic expectations

We’ll talk about that more soon, but in short, Reactive Digital PR is a smaller, faster project that can achieve good levels of linkage but is unlikely to produce the same results as one. hero campaign that goes viral.

Of course, it can happen, but in most cases, you’ll end up with dozens (not hundreds) of links due to reactive digital PR.

Because of this, your stakeholders (and you!) must have the right expectations when going into this strategy and understand that it is different from other forms of digital PR and link building.

This is similar to how certain types of technical SEO improvements will have different levels of impact on organic search results.

You will need a stakeholder team that understands this and keeps the expectations under control.

Overall, if you’re concerned about any of these areas, responsive digital PR may not be right for your business, or it may be worth trying before committing too much processing.

Opportunities that you are likely to get

Reactive digital PR will potentially provide you with opportunities to do many things that can lead to coverage and links.

These are not mutually exclusive to the opportunities that large, hero-style campaigns can present, but they are more likely to come without the need for massive content.

Comments on current news

There will be times when a journalist is looking for some additional credibility from an industry expert to add to an existing story they are writing.

When this happens, they can tweet using this type of hashtag or use services such as lose either response source,

Monitoring these areas can help you get opportunities to provide a comment with a brand mention or even better, a link to your in-house experts.

This can also be a chance to gain credibility in the subject area and build relationships with a journalist who may come directly to you for more comments in the future.

Content on a specific news item

Sometimes, you will use responsive digital PR to produce content that you provide to journalists to support the content they plan to publish on the news item.

Compared to hero-style campaigns, the main difference is that you’re creating content very, very quickly and making it specific to the news item or topic that’s already being talked about. (or will be very soon).

The idea is that you are looking at what is likely to be written in the next few days or weeks, and you are creating a piece of content that journalists can use to add more value to what they plan to write.

Your content should be simple, easy to create and add unique information to a developing news story.

This will often be a piece of data or a simple visualization.

In addition to existing stories

It is actually quite common for journalists to update news after publication.

This is especially common for developing news stories where more information is gathered and can add to an existing story.

You will have opportunities to add value to an existing story that you have already seen a journalist write and publish.

Now, this can be difficult, and you should only do this if the content or commentary you present will actually add value to an existing story.

If not, you are likely to get a negative response from the journalist.

What results are you likely to get with Reactive Digital PR?

As mentioned above, set expectations with this strategy. This will not always result in a large, planned hero campaign.

But like most things, it’s hard to predict.

Remember that the time and resources you invest should be in proportion to the expected results.

If responsive digital PR tasks take you 15 minutes and you only get one link, that’s actually a decent return on the time you spend.

You should also note that you are likely to receive a mix of regular links, nofollow links And the brand mentions with this type of activity.

You can certainly do your best to convert a brand mention into a link, but it is not always possible.

Again, this isn’t a big issue as it’s perfectly normal and natural to get a mix of results, but set expectations with stakeholders that this is likely to happen before you start.

Reactive Digital Pr. how to prepare for

Even though planning reactive digital PR is tough, you can stack the deck in your favor in a few ways so that when the time comes, you have the best possible chance of taking advantage.

Expert available with opinion

Spend time figuring out who to turn to in your business Expert Comments on Key Topics you want to cover.

For small businesses, this may be just one person. Larger businesses may have different specialists for different areas.

Whatever it is, find out who these people are and introduce them to the idea of ​​what you want to do.

From here, assuming they are on board, you can arrange to speak directly to them if comments are needed and communicate the need to get comments quickly where possible.

It’s also worth noting that you need to have their opinion!

This may sound a bit strange, but ideally, they should have a reasonably clear or strong idea to stand in front of the journalist writing about that topic.

You don’t need extreme opinions, but you should probably know which side of the fence they sit on in most situations.

planned dates

There will be certain dates in the year when topics will be written more often than usual.

There are obvious topics like Christmas and Halloween, but there are many others to cover.

For example, did you know that no dirty dishes day There is one matter?

or that National dance like Chicken Day Happens every year?

While some are obviously not serious and a little funny, look for days of the year that are relevant to your topic and can be up to date news and stories from journalists.

If you can do that and create some content that relates to the day of the year, you can present this material to journalists ahead of time and perhaps get involved in their stories.

Assets are already signed off

Speed ​​is key to Reactive Digital PR.

To help combat slowing down content production and sign-offs, prepare assets before you really need them.

When the time comes, and an important topic is in the news, you have content ready to go and you can pitch it quickly—instead of waiting for it to sign off and slow you down.

One way to do this is to spend 30 to 45 minutes on call with one of your experts and interview them on a related topic.

This could lead to a goldmine of insights and comments for Reactive Digital PR.

Reactive digital PR can be a great way for a brand to generate more links and coverage, but it isn’t for everyone.

If you do go ahead with it, plan as much in advance as you can and prepare to move quickly when the opportunity arises.

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Featured Image: WellPhoto/Shutterstock

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