11/03/20 // Written by Samantha Beckham

Navigating Digital PR In A Changing Landscape: An Interview with Alexa Cobbold

PR has long been an important strand of marketing, with many brands deploying PR tactics to build a positive image. But today, there is so much more to gain! Like every area of digital marketing, Digital PR is constantly evolving. It was only last month Google updated their “nofollow” attribute and introduced two new link rules, both of which had a notable impact on publishers.

We sat down with our Digital PR Campaign Manager, Alexa Cobbold, to get her thoughts on the fast-moving landscape of PR, the challenges, the opportunities and how it can be used to support your wider marketing strategy.

What do you enjoy the most about working in Digital PR?

Every PR project you get involved in is varied which means I’m always busy researching something new. I have learnt a lot about the world through the research stage of our campaigns – mostly that my geography is not as sharp as I thought it was…

Plus, it’s so varied and you’re perpetually busy, which I love. As a team, we cover pretty much every part of PR . Depending on what stage of a campaign we’re in, my day could include anything from reporting or creating pitch documents, to group ideation sessions, writing a press release or jumping on a client call. We literally see a campaign through from start to finish, so it’s never dull.

What’s the best PR campaign you’ve seen?

Aside from pretty much all of the personal PR Lewis Capaldi does for his own music…it’s hard to pick! I think the standouts have got to be the 2019 #oktosay campaign around mental health, as well as the KFC campaign they put out responding to the great chicken shortage of 2018 – 10 out of 10 to whoever does their PR.

Do you think Digital PR is suitable for every business?

I think it’s really subjective. Overall, I would say yes, but it depends more on the openness and willingness of the brand to try things that may be outside of their comfort zone. Some ideas may be more tenuous than others, but as long as there is a clear link back to the topic, I think there is always a way to be creative for every business.

PR doesn’t necessarily have to mean a colourful, all singing, all dancing campaign. We have plenty of ways of working that lead to strong results for clients of all shapes and sizes. Whether that’s E-A-T-PR, product placement, events, or interview pieces, PR has a wide variety of tactics. And, we’ll always be honest. If we don’t think a certain tactic is going to be the strongest for you and your business, we will tell you. Of course, there are sectors and subjects that will always be harder than others in PR, but that’s what keeps it interesting, right?!

What are the challenges faced in Digital PR at the moment?

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is proving to be a challenge for the world of PR at the moment. But it’s also making our job even more interesting by learning how the nation is reacting and figuring out how PR will work best for a brand when there’s a health pandemic.

It’s a fine balance, ensuring we keep campaigns sensitive as we try to navigate newsworthy topics, while respecting the majority of clients (understandably) don’t want to broach the subject even if it is relevant to them. It keeps us on our toes though, which is always a good learning experience.

What role does Digital PR play in a wider marketing strategy?

Digital PR is really great for SEO. First and foremost, it can help companies increase their online presence – whether that’s through working with bloggers, journalists or influencers. One of our key aims is to get people talking about (and ultimately linking back to) the brand we’re PRing.

Overall, it’s about helping the companies we work with build their authority, trust and reputation, which in turn, leads Google to both trust and rank them better. There are plenty of ways to achieve this, and it’s important to consider which will work best for the industry you’re in.

Although national coverage may be the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for many clients, for me, what’s imperative is reminding both yourself and them who you want to reach. It could be that regional press or even bloggers in a certain niche would be a much better way of reaching your audience and, therefore, the campaign PR method you had in mind might not be the right fit.

It’s a great tactic which complements the other areas of SEO we offer too. We work closely with so many other areas of the business, from content and outreach, to technical SEO and social. I love how it intertwines and allows us to work with the different teams in order to get the best results for our clients.

What advice would you give a client?

Be brave with your campaigns. It can be scary going out with a tongue in cheek campaign, or something that’s out of your comfort zone, but the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Obviously, it has to be the right fit for the brand in question, but these types of campaigns where creativity, cleverness and personality shine through tend to be the most memorable.
Oh, and timing is key – you don’t want to be beaten to the punch. Another business or PR agency beating you to the same campaign by a few days is also a challenge we face. It’s hard but it happens and it’s just one of those things. At the end of the day, at least it’s proof of concept!

If you want to find out more about our approach to digital PR and how we can help you find the right hook for your business, contact the team.