Carry Out Your Own Digital PR Campaign? 4 Reasons You Should Save Yourself Time and Money, And Leave It To The Pros.


By Kate O’Reilly, Director at Cherry Digital


In the world of digital marketing, link building is an essential aspect of SEO. While there are many online articles offering step-by-step guidance on link building, most of these focus on sourcing links from blogs. The real value of link equity comes from media publications, which have the highest authorities and link juice. These platforms employ professional journalists and securing a backlink from them can significantly boost your SEO efforts.


However, building a successful media link building campaign is not as easy as it seems, and many brands fail to achieve their goals. They face several challenges, such as brainstorming a suitable angle for the campaign, producing high-quality content that journalists will find interesting, creating professional assets such as infographics, and identifying relevant contacts from media databases. Moreover, even after overcoming these challenges, outreach to journalists and avoiding spam filters can be difficult.


Therefore, while it may seem like a cost-saving measure, embarking on your own digital PR campaign can be challenging, time-consuming, and potentially ineffective. In contrast, working with a reputable digital PR agency can provide the expertise, resources, and networks necessary to navigate these challenges and achieve your desired results. So, before making a decision, consider the potential benefits of leaving your digital PR campaign to the experts.



#1 Brainstorming: 

Brainstorming for a digital PR campaign can be exciting, but it can also be challenging. This is because you can get caught up in your own hype, convincing yourself that you have a killer story that the media will love. This is where digital PR agencies, particularly those with a classic public relations background, come in. They have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to identifying content that journalists will love. They know what makes a story click and can quickly identify stories that are too promotional or too salesy. For example, we once got approached by a former client (let’s call them ‘X’) who had their own campaign, and wanted to employ our services to outreach their content. The beginning of the press release went as follows:


“For the second year in a row, X announces all their offices will be closed the week between Christmas and New Years in a new employee benefit entitled ‘Home for the Holidays’. This benefit is a direct reflection of company Core Values, wherein employees’

satisfaction and work-life balance is a matter of priority.”


While the client thought it was newsworthy, we had to decline the project as it lacked newsworthiness. 


Finding a topic that strikes the right balance between similarity to your brand and newsworthiness is crucial. PR agencies have the expertise to navigate this fine line and avoid making your campaign look like an advert. While you may think you have a good potential story, a specialist in this area can provide a fresh perspective and help you identify potential flaws in your media campaign. Therefore, working with a reputable digital PR agency can help you create a successful campaign that resonates with journalists and their audience.



#2 Production: 

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, producing a successful PR campaign involves much more than simply writing a press release. While a press release may suffice if your main goal is brand awareness, most digital PR campaigns are hybrids, designed to not only increase brand visibility but also improve SEO through valuable backlinks.


Press Releases

When we write press releases, we don’t simply rely on factual information and bullet points. Instead, we take a different approach and get them written by freelance journalists in a style that resembles a media article. We understand that journalists are constantly pressed for time, so we make it as easy as possible for them to feature our press releases. By providing a release that is already in a format they can use, they can focus on making minor edits to fit their particular style and voice.


Sourcing Data 

One of the most important aspects of creating a successful digital PR campaign is sourcing unique data for your content. While promoting a product may not require additional data, nearly every other campaign needs unique data to stand out. Unfortunately, generating such data can be a time-consuming and expensive process for companies attempting to handle it on their own.


Even some PR agencies cut corners by only focusing on publicly available data instead of creating their own unique content. However, we’ve found that surveys can be an excellent way to generate unique data that provides valuable insights and key trends for journalists. The challenge is that running your own surveys can be quite costly.


For example, Google surveys, which allowed users to spend only 10 cents per response, ended in late 2022. Since then, there have been no affordable options on the market. Using a popular survey company as an example, a quick quote on their site for a survey of 6-10 questions of 3,000 general respondents (the generally accepted minimum amount required by journalists) with 3 screener questions reveals a charge of 95 cents per respondent, which amounts to $7,800! This expense is often prohibitive for all but the biggest brands.


The best PR agencies have direct relationships with survey companies, which enables them to purchase in bulk and drive down the cost per response. This makes it more cost-effective for their clients to run surveys through the agency, enabling them to generate unique data for their campaigns without breaking the bank.


Online Assets to Encourage Linking

Including assets like infographics with press releases is crucial for increasing the likelihood of backlinks. Infographics provide a visual representation of information that can be easily understood by readers and shared on social media platforms. Journalists also find them useful in engaging their readers, making them a valuable tool in driving traffic to a website and increasing brand awareness.


However, creating professional-looking infographics requires the expertise of a graphic designer. The media only includes highly professional looking assets, and creating a subpar infographic can damage a brand’s reputation. It is important to keep in mind that infographics are often the first impression that readers have of a brand’s content, and as such, they need to be visually appealing and provide valuable information that resonates with the target audience.


One of the advantages of creating interactive assets like infographics is the ability to insert backend code that acts as a natural backlink to the client’s site. This means that when a journalist hosts the infographic on their own site, it provides a natural backlink to the client’s site, improving their SEO efforts. Additionally, by including Google analytics code within the infographic, we can track engagement live and analyze the effectiveness of the campaign.


While infographics can be a powerful tool in a digital PR campaign, they are not always the best option. In some cases, other assets like videos or interactive widgets may be more appropriate depending on the nature of the campaign. It is essential to work with a PR agency that can help determine which assets will best suit a particular campaign and can provide the necessary resources to create high-quality assets that will resonate with journalists and readers alike.


It’s important for brands to understand that there are certain techniques and strategies that are essential for achieving success in digital PR campaigns. While some brands may attempt to carry out their own campaigns, they may be unaware of these techniques and could end up missing out on valuable opportunities.


Thankfully, there are agencies that specialize in SEO and digital marketing who are experts in these areas. By partnering with these agencies, brands can benefit from their knowledge and experience, and ensure that their campaigns are optimized for success. From sourcing unique data and creating professional-looking infographics to identifying newsworthy content and building relationships with journalists, these agencies have the tools and expertise needed to help brands achieve their goals of increased brand visibility and improved SEO.


#3 Databases:

While it’s true that PR agencies may overemphasize the value of their relationships with journalists, it’s important to understand that in the digital age, these relationships are not the be-all and end-all of successful PR campaigns. In the past, a PR agency’s success hinged on its ability to cultivate close relationships with journalists, which could lead to valuable press coverage. However, with the advent of digital tools, such as media databases like Cision and Gorkana, access to journalist contact details is now widely available to anyone who subscribes to these platforms. Therefore many brands may surmise that they can purchase their own database, and create their own relationships with journalists, thereby cutting digital PR agencies out of this process.


Despite this democratization of access, there are still many challenges to carrying out a successful digital PR campaign. Building relationships with journalists is still important, as is crafting a compelling story that will capture their attention. Simply having access to a journalist’s contact information is not enough to secure coverage. Additionally, pitching a story to a journalist can be an art in itself, and requires a deep understanding of what makes a story newsworthy and relevant to a particular publication or journalist.


Furthermore, while anyone can purchase a subscription to these media databases, the cost can be prohibitive for smaller brands or businesses with limited budgets. PR agencies, on the other hand, often have access to these databases at a discounted rate due to their volume of subscriptions. Additionally, PR agencies have the advantage of having dedicated teams of professionals who are trained in crafting compelling stories and pitching them to the right journalists, which can save time and money for brands who may not have the resources to do so themselves.


So while access to journalist contact information is more widely available than ever before, the challenges of executing a successful digital PR campaign remain. PR agencies can still provide value in this area by offering expertise in crafting compelling stories, pitching to the right journalists, and negotiating discounted rates for media database subscriptions.


[On another note, when it comes to choosing a digital PR agency, one of the first things they will likely tout is their “close relationships with key journalists.” While it’s true that having good contacts within an industry can be helpful in securing press coverage, it’s important to be wary of relying too heavily on these relationships.


In the past, having personal connections with journalists may have been worth its weight in gold. But in today’s digital age, PR agencies rely on databases such as Cision, Gorkana, and Thomson Reuters to access up-to-date listings of journalists across many countries and industries. This means that any brand can easily subscribe to these platforms and build a target list of journalists to send their press releases to.


However, having good contacts within the industry is still important. The danger arises when a digital PR agency’s reliance on these relationships results in repetitive press coverage. This can lead to diminishing returns in terms of brand awareness and SEO value.


A good PR campaign should aim to secure varied coverage, regardless of any personal connections the agency may have with journalists. So when choosing a digital PR agency, it’s important to judge them not just by who they know, but by the variety of press coverage they have achieved for past clients.]


#4 – Distribution/Outreach

If you get to the stage that you have come up with your own campaign angle, you have written up a press release, you have purchased a database of press contacts and are ready to hit send using a newsletter distribution platform, then surely the articles and links will start flowing in soon after, no? Not quite. The risk is that you have spent days or weeks preparing a campaign, and then when you have sent, few journalists read it. And in most cases, the reason they have not read it is because they didn’t receive it, and it went straight through to their spam folder.


Mail distribution is what keeps digital PR executives up at night. It doesn’t matter how strong your campaign is, the one you have put your life and soul into, the one that you can’t wait to see featured in the NY Times, only for it to fall flat on its face because no one can see it.


It may seem surprising at first, but in the world of digital PR, mail distribution is perhaps the most critical aspect of the outreach process. While many may assume that the ideation and production of a campaign are the most important components, it is mail distribution that I would rate most highly. After all, the goal of any PR campaign is to have your press release read and covered by journalists, and to achieve that, you must ensure that your press releases make it into their inbox.


To put it another way, a mediocre campaign will lead to coverage if it is read by journalists. A revolutionary, totally kick-ass PR campaign will not lead to a single article if it ends up in a journalist’s spam folder. And this is why the best PR agencies pour a lot of resources into managing their mail distribution reputation management.


Now, you may be thinking: “I can just use a newsletter distribution service such as Mailchimp to distribute my press releases”. This is correct, you certainly can, but these platforms do not come cheap, and if you plan on running more than one campaign, these expenses can add up quickly. While Mailchimp and other similar platforms have excellent user interfaces and take their reputation management seriously (so hosting servers do not flag newsletters as spam), the better digital PR agencies build their own software.


This means that they can vastly reduce the costs of sending press releases, and they can have more control of their domain’s reputation. The best PR agencies monitor their domain reputations daily – open rates, click-through rates, and spam reports are monitored each day so that they can address any potential problems that may take their domain reputation down from its highest level. This means that they ensure that their press releases make it past the hyper-vigilant servers’ flagging systems.


Employing a good digital PR agency that manages its distribution systems means that you can save money on outreach, as they take on this cost, and it also means that you can save time and worry, knowing that your press releases will be delivered and read by journalists.



While it might seem appealing to handle your own PR and link building campaign, the truth is that there are many hurdles to overcome to execute a successful campaign. While you may have more control over the creative process and access to a journalist database and newsletter distribution software, there are still numerous challenges to contend with. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you consider working with a reputable PR agency instead. They have the expertise, resources, and networks to navigate these challenges and help you achieve your desired results. By leaving your digital PR campaign to the experts, you can save time, money, and ensure that your campaign resonates with journalists and their audiences” says Kate O’Reilly, Director at Cherry Digital.