OMG... Don

OMG... Don't Ignore Digital PR...

30 April 2014 | David Barrett

Last week I drove down to the fantastic Brighton SEO conference with a few colleagues. Two things struck me about the show – 1. There are a lot more good-looking people in SEO than I expected (bonus) and 2. Digital PR is where it’s at (another bonus – and probably the more important factor out of the two)!

There were lots of great speakers on the day. One in particular being Malcolm Coles who works for the Daily Mirror and who also runs Us Vs. Them. I don’t think I need to explain what the Daily Mirror do, but with Us vs Them…they are a talented group of people (assembled by Malcolm), who put together quirky online games and quizzes, in the hope that they generate a mass of interest online.

Just to give you an idea of what they do…one of the latest offerings from the Us vs Them team is ‘what ridiculous day is your birthday?’ Here you simply enter your birthday, and you are then told what National food day your birthday falls on. Simple. You are then asked to share this online via Twitter, Facebook etc.


Throughout Malcolm’s talk he stressed the importance of obtaining clicks and shares. This is what will get you talked about online, this will improve your SEO, this is what will drive people to your site, and this is what will help you obtain those all important social media account details and emails. All in all – this is what will create that desired digital brand awareness. This is digital PR.

Stepping away from the Us Vs Them activity, Malcolm also chatted about his role at the Daily Mirror. In particular he discussed what news stories grab their attention (as a news organisation). Online press outlets (of which most print publications have an online version too), all want their stories shared, and clicked on. Therefore the headline is important. But what works (backed up by numerous stats from Malcolm) are those headlines that perhaps don’t sum up the story in one go, but are more inquisitive, and encourage you to click the link. A good example of this from the world of social media and blogging is when somebody posts or tweets saying ‘OMG…you won’t believe what has just happened,’ which inevitably results in people replying with ‘What’s the matter? Are you ok?’ These kind of posts get responses, and it’s the same with online news.

One final thing that I took away from Malcolm’s talk, was the importance (and success) of news jacking. His team at Us vs Them often build quizzes or games that ride on the back of a topical news story. A good example of this is when Hull got named the UK City of Culture 2017, and the Us vs Them team created the Where the hell is Hull? quiz. Here you are asked where Hull is on the map. It then tells you (in miles) how far away you were, where you can then share your score on social media etc. This got masses of hits, was shared thousands of times, and generated a news story for the Daily Mirror, where many other news sites also talked about it. And because they are talking about something online, the majority of news sites would link through to the game too (SEO gold dust).

Lessons learnt…

So what are you trying to say I hear you ask? Simple, don’t ignore digital PR. I’m not saying set up a development house, and start releasing a number of online games. But I am saying embrace digital PR. Be smart with it, fun, and clever. Here are three quick pointers from me:

1.) Think about what fun quizzes/surveys you can set-up to help generate online news stories (there are lots of free and low cost survey tools out there – SurveyMonkey being one. And lots of online news portals to distribute your findings to)

2.) What National awareness days can you do something special for at your establishment? – and therefore shout about online (be clever with your news headline remember)

3.) Finally – what news stories can you ride on the back of? What can you comment on? There are plenty of online outlets and bloggers wanting your opinion. You just have to give it

Be creative, be different. Because when it comes to digital PR, that is what will get you the shares, the clicks, the link backs and the results. If you ignore this, then you will be ignored.