Top 5 Examples of PR Campaigns (Step-by-Step Guide)

Farzad Rashidi
10 minute read

When most people hear the word “PR Campaign,” they think of going to fancy galas in suits and sucking up to influential people. Yuck.

Luckily, the PR landscape in 2019 is nothing like it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Back when traditional media was the arbiter of attention, cozying up with editors, writers, and other gatekeepers were the name of the game.

But digital is now officially the leader, not just the new kid on the block. In 2018, Digital surpassed traditional media in daily time spent. And digital video was the biggest channel, with an average of 1 hour and 26 minutes of daily media time for U.S. adults.

So instead of worrying about newspapers, TV reporters, etc, you can use the new PR campaigns below to earn press coverage and spread the word about your brand.

PR Campaign #1: Get Included in List & Comparison Posts

It’s no secret that list posts rule the internet.

A quick Google search reveals that there are over 22 million posts that start with “3-50 best …”

Googling "3...50 best"

(Source)

And it’s not just that there are a lot of list posts, they actually get the most backlinks out of any content type as well.

But our favorite thing about list posts is that you can get included in high-traffic, high-authority list posts that are already live.

Let’s say you were doing keyword research, and your goal was to get traffic from the keyword “Productivity apps” or “Best Productivity Apps.”

Google keyword planner analytics for “Productivity apps” and “Best Productivity Apps."

Option one is to spend hours on writing a quality post, develop graphics, and to try to develop a decent backlink profile. Instead of doing “content marketing,” you can pull a classic PR-move instead.

Run an outreach campaign to get your products listed in the list posts that pepper the top search results.

Google search results for "Best productivity apps" as an example of a PR campaign.

Just doing a preliminary Google search, there’s already a lot of viable options. CloudApp is a screen recorder, and would likely be open to adding great productivity apps that aren’t direct competitors.

Not only will getting listed here drive indirect organic traffic, but you will also get referral traffic from the sites’ own audiences as well.

If your app, software, or product is already getting a fair amount of press, you can easily filter out the lists that have already mentioned your brand by typing “-[your brand name]” in front of the keyword.

For example: “Best productivity apps -MyApp.”

As a Respona user, this process becomes even easier as you can use our AI-powered tools to find linking/PR opportunities like these easily. 

The search results show metrics that show whether the content is worth targeting:

Respona content search results to start a PR campaign.

But that’s not all, you can simply check the box next to posts to automatically get the relevant contact information. 

Respona contact search results to get the email addresses of journalists.

All you need to do is confirm that the LinkedIn profile is for the right person, and click the “Get Contact” button.

You can even set up an outreach campaign from within the same dashboard.

Setting up an automated PR campaign sequence in Respona.

This makes Respona the perfect tool for this PR strategy, as it is heavily reliant on large scale outreach to succeed.

PR Campaign #2: Capitalize on Competitors’ Distribution Channels

As mentioned in the introduction, digital video is the biggest media channel in 2019.

In other words, succeeding here is the backbone of any modern PR campaign. But just creating and uploading a video to a social platform, or pushing it a bit with ads isn’t going make you go viral.

The name of the content and video marketing game in 2019 is distribution. If you’re paying attention, you’ve noticed viral videos on Facebook rarely go viral on the original channel they were posted. They go viral when published on a larger platform, like a popular aggregation or news page. 

Focus on distribution strategy and designing content specifically for a platform to get it to take off.

Some of the very biggest Facebook pages, like LadBible with 36 million followers, are mainly aggregation pages. 

But going through each of these manually and trying to find ones with solid following that have a relevant audience to your industry is hard work.

You can use the search function and search for exact product names in quotes, and make note of any channel that generated more than 10,000 views.

Facebook search results for "Spyra One" PR campaign.

You can also use Respona’s search function and searching for competitor names & products, you can find sites that are distributing promotional content and giving backlinks/social media attention to competitors.

These publications and influencers become effective targets for a PR campaign when releasing a new product or marketing material.

If you don’t think distribution is key, check out the following video and try to imagine if it would get to 2 million views if posted on the company’s channel. 

By matching the video with the intended audience and getting distributed through channels like NowThis Future, Spyra One was able to gain millions of views of something that was basically a sort-of interesting press release video.

Figuring out where you can get your product videos shared is the first step to similar success.

PR Campaign #3: Generate Publicity with Original Research

Analyze and repackage user data to create original research/case studies that drive PR & citations.

As a business in 2019, even if not a SaaS, you probably have access to a potential PR goldmine already: user data.

User data, when repackaged into something that shows an enticing conclusion, online news sources jump at the bit. The author of Explosive Growth, Cliff Lerner, exploited this to drive 500 Million impressions.

And you don’t need to do your own original research either. 

If you can find interesting research that is lacking in the visualization department, you can create visually pleasing charts to capture the majority of the media wave.

The team at Visme was able to capitalize on an opportunity like this by creating a post analyzing chances of GoT characters to win using betting odds as data.

Visme Game of Thrones themed PR campaign.

The post got covered by heavy hitters like Forbes, Men’s Health and Yahoo!. This single post generated 24 links from 16 domains, but the real benefit of this is the quality of site and coverage you get.

Looking up the backlinks to Visme's Game of Thrones article on SEMRush.

Inbound links from five domains with a Domain Authority of 90+. And since the posts generated are usually 100% based on the research/charts, they are direct shoutouts with a lot of traffic potential for you.

First, find trending stories in your niche (or that you can relevantly tie into your niche) using the social media tool of your choice, and look for popular topics that cite old & tired research that you might be able to refresh.

Searching "Email Outreach Personalization" in Respona content search step.

Check the top results for the sources for their statistics. You can usually find them quickly by searching for “%” or the word “percent.”

If the sources are old, this could be a great PR opportunity for your company.

Double check with a Google search for research & case studies from the last 12 months. (If there are no recent ones, it makes it much more likely for writers, blogs and magazines to start using your new research as a source).

Looking up "Email outreach personalization research 2018" on Google.

The results for the search “email outreach personalization research 2018,” with the publish range set to the last 12 months returns only blog posts.

So if you wanted to create new research on email outreach personalization, nobody releasing any significant research or case studies in at least a year would be a great sign. 

A SERP like this is fertile ground to generate backlinks and news stories.

PR Campaign #4: Personalize Messages at Scale

An essential part of PR and earned media, is the ability to maintain a relationship with people that matter at scale. 

With more than 7,176 magazines, 1,331 newspapers and 32,900 full-time journalists, it’s not enough to have a “PR guy” on the case, emailing all the time.

And just blasting the same email to everyone isn’t efficient either. Personalizing only the subject line can lead to 50% higher open rates, and 58% higher click-through rates.

Don’t use a single outreach script and spam people. Use automation that works to send personalized messages and automated personal follow-ups at scale.

If this sounds tedious, and you’re not interested in signing up for yet another SaaS, let us show you what is on the other side of a well-run long term outreach campaign.

If you don’t have a process, it’s easy to fizzle out after a blog post push or two.

But if you create and follow a protocol, you can stay in it for the long haul.

Automation has been key to help Visme’s link building campaigns stay alive and thrive over the past few years. And boy has it paid off. 1.5 Million (with a capital M) backlinks from 10.4k unique domains.

Searching backlinks to Visme.co domain on SEMRush.

These results show what’s possible when implementing a successful outreach and PR campaign over the long term using modern tools. No massive budgets or teams, just smart and hard work paying off exponentially over time.

Follow-up Automatically and Authentically with Respona

Follow up can make or break an outreach campaign. 

Translated to email, a busy business owner might ignore the first two-three of your emails without a second thought.

With Respona, getting all these follow up emails out there to the right person at the right time is no longer a long and complex process.

Create a series of 3-4 emails to maximize the reply rates of every person on the list. (In our experience, the vast majority of people no longer reply after the third follow-up email, and the insistence might have a long-term negative brand impact.)

And make sure to make the most of our personalization tools to create an authentic connection with each potential partner.

Automating follow-up emails for PR campaign outreach.

You can obviously use basic variables like names and job titles, organization, location, etc to automatically personalize the emails.

Showing different variables in Respona to be used in PR pitches.

But that’s just a starting point.

Nowadays any decent blogger or journalist can smell an automated email from a mile away.

Respona AI summarizes the article you are contacting the writer about, in 5 key sentences, so that you can go above and beyond automatic variables and truly personalize your messages without having to read the entire content.

Showing an example of the article summary feature in Respona.

By using these two core outreach features of Respona, not only do you eliminate a lot of work, you dramatically increase your chances of getting a reply, and finally, a backlink or social media post push.

PR Campaign #5: Feature Influencers/Experts First

Setting up a communication machine that communicates like a person is the biggest win for companies just getting started with PR.

But in the noisy world of 2019, it’s not easy to build relationships from scratch with email alone. Cold email campaigns can have reply rates as low as 1.2%.

The answer to this problem might surprise you.

Feature influencers and experts before they ever do anything for your brand & company to start building a relationship.

By adding value first, you no longer appear as the stranger who wants something from them, but as someone who has helped them in a meaningful way.

But after you’ve shared a piece, or given someone an award, what’s the best way to reach out to someone?

An Outreach Script that Has Started Many Positive PR Relationships

We’ve got a treat for you guys today. Farzad of Visme has agreed to reveal the script he has personally used to start and nurture relationships with hundreds of bloggers and influencers:

Subject

Hi John, 

Farzad here with Visme. I really enjoyed your article on [niche such as graphic design/visual marketing/infographic design etc]. We recently published an article called “[name of article-hyperlinked to the post]” and quoted a part of your blog post: “[quote]” with a link to your website. 

Please take a look and let me know what you think! 

Cheers,
Farzad

P.S. It’d help us immensely if you can kindly share the article on your favorite social channel!
P.P.S. Please let me know if you’d like us to share any one of your content on our channel :)

Simple right? 

There’s nothing complicated or secret about this email, except the fact that he has started the relationship by adding value to this person. 

By featuring them on the website first, before making an ask, it creates a completely different context for the interaction.

So the secret really is to give first, then ask.

But it’s not a realistic strategy to create a dedicated post featuring the content of every single influencer or blog you want some attention from.

Share the Love With List & Roundup Posts

Instead of turning your blog and social media feed into an aggregate of constant shoutouts, carefully select influencers and blogs you feel jive with your brand, and do good work.

Then you can select one great piece from multiple influencers and feature them in a single list post.

Again Visme has a perfect example with their roundup post of the best data visualizations of 2018.

But no good deed gets rewarded unless the other person actually knows it has been done.

So you need the influencers to know that you helped them out. That’s where Respona comes in again.

You will want to keep some sort of spreadsheet of the influencers you have/are going to feature so you can get in touch with them at the right time.

PR outreach list example in a Google Spreadsheet.

Then all you have to do is reach out to them once you have featured them.

To make the outreach process a lot simpler, you can again make use of Respona during this step.

Simply export the sheet as a CSV file, and then upload it in a new campaign.

Screenshot of Respona showing how to import a CSV file containing PR outreach prospects.

Then you can simply confirm contacts (for influencers you don’t have an email for), and create a personalized campaign as you’ve seen in the previous step.

You can also schedule follow-up emails right before, and after the post has gone live.

This functionality leads to a much more streamlined process than manually contacting each one.

Conclusion

Because digital channels have flattened the media landscape, there are more ways than ever to plan a PR campaign. And just because an article is published, or an influencer has featured your competitor, doesn’t mean the opportunity is gone.

If you find out where your competition is succeeding, and reverse-engineer their success, you get a great head-start.

Then, by mixing the best of a personal, value-first human approach, with automation and scale, you create a machine that will build your brand.

What PR campaign has worked best for you? Comment below and let me know!

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi is the co-founder of Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity.He runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 4 million users and pass 1.5M monthly organic traffic. Since then, he’s been helping other companies achieve the same success via Respona.

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