How To: Six Tips For Setting Up A Digital Press Office

  • Sunday 1st November 2020

‘What’s a digital press office?’, I hear you ask. When it comes to digital PR you’ll need to get your ducks in a row, do your prep work and set up your media assets so that you can respond to media requests, enquiries and pitch in a timely fashion. And when it comes to securing backlinks and media coverage that move the needle, speed is everything. Which is why having a bank of assets you can rely on is so important.

Having a digital press office is important for the presence of your brand and raising brand awareness too. Most businesses will need to engage with the media, not just to promote themselves, but also to respond to requests and sometimes even negative coverage.

But what should a digital press office consist of? And how should you go about putting one together? Here are seven thing you’ll need to consider and compile to build an effective digital press office that enables an effective reactive and proactive digital PR strategy.

1. Multimedia

It is no secret that online media run off of visuals. In fact, good enough visuals is often a pre-requisite and can be the difference between securing that quality placement or having a PR campaign that fails. However, when we say multimedia we mean having more than just a nice fluffy product shot. This means a large bank of lifestyle shots, as well as aspirational, high quality and aesthetically pleasing images and videos. Think about the types of PR stories that you are likely to run regularly and make sure you have enough for every angle. Make sure they are high enough resolution for publication and an appropriate length. Ensure your videos are well edited, natural and editorial rather than advertorial in nature. Chances are, if you have a specific campaign in mind you will want to tailor multimedia around that so that it has the best chances of securing coverage and links. But its always good to be prepared so that you can react to incoming news and short deadlines.

2. Experts

One of your most valuable PR tools is your experts. They are the people that the media will want to speak to or get opinion from when big developments happen in your industry. So vet your experts and put together written profiles on them so that you’re ready to react to the news agenda and propose your experts for contributing article and comment opportunities ahead of the competition. First, this means vetting your experts based on media appeal and on credentials. You obviously need a spokesperson who is comfortable talking to, or at least being in the media. But if they are going to be a real tool for your PR strategy they also need to have the credentials for that story too. One mistake that people often make is always making the big boss the spokesperson, and while that is obviously key for big company announcements, its not always key if they’re not the ones with the technical expertise that the media are looking for.

3. Additional resources and intel

Think carefully about what you’re going to need to run an effective PR strategy and what your PR assets are. These can often include:

  • Key people
  • Media libraries
  • Designers (for news jacking or visual led campaigns)
  • Feasibility / access to editing/creating on site content
  • Access to data (internal records, surveying customer databases)
  • Existing guides and marketing literature

Having your ducks in a row and these assets at your fingertips and easily accessible will save you time in the future and help your digital PR strategy be more effective.

4. Media lists

Key to every PR campaign is your media targeting. Journalists and content creators are who you need to target and you will want to spend time fine tuning these so that you are reaching not just the right publication, but also the right person (or people) at that publication at the right time. Ideally you will use tools such as Roxhill or Cision, but if you are building lists manually you may want to block out a large amount of time for desk research, Googling and phoning around media outlets! While you will need to tailor each media list for each story/campaign, PR is a fast-moving discipline and it is key that you have those baseline media lists that will allow you access to journalists quickly.

5. Existing relationships

Don’t just think about who you know, but also who your client or key internal stakeholders know. If they have been in the industry a long time, chances are they know a lot of people. Map out who your key existing relationships are (as a company) and then create a bank of them so that you can use those relationships to your advantage to build links and generate coverage in the future. Make contact with those people in advance so they are warm for when you need them. For example, could you exhaust your industry contacts to get valuable backlinks that will provide a meaningful SEO uplift? Or do those contacts have expertise and authority that you don’t have inhouse, and which you could borrow and leverage to help you build more effective and appealing PR stories?

6. Approval processes

This one may sound a bit dry but it is really key. Time is everything, and if you don’t move quickly you run the risk of your PR story become irrelevant before it has even been signed off. Where possible sit down with colleagues and establish who needs approval on key documents that go to press and how long it is going to take them to approve those documents. Set expectations. While you’re at it, stress the importance of newsworthiness and encourage a culture of few amends. Make it clear that time is of the essence. Ideally, you’ll have one key contact that is responsive, but sometimes your story will need to go through the mill and be seen by a thousand eyes before it gets the go ahead. If this is the case, think about making your stories as evergreen as possible (while still newsworthy) and prioritise getting sign off on documents well in advance. Either way, it is good to set expectations with colleagues early on.

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