Home Leisure Direct Games Room of the Year

Digital PR has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry over the last couple of years. As SEO practitioners have sought to improve their efforts by acquiring high value backlinks, they realised PR was the best way to do this.

Given SEO is purely online, more traditional PR (print coverage) isn’t important to them. They want backlinks and employ ‘digital PR’ to do it. Consequently, we’ve seen an array of digital PR agencies emerge in recent years, which seek to set themselves apart from the PR agencies of old.

However, at Pic PR – we do both, and have done for some time. A great example of our previous link building endeavours centres on a brand called Home Leisure Direct, a leading supplier of games room equipment, which we started working with in 2015.

Wanting to dominate the online landscape, HLD’s core requirement of us was to get high value links for their ecommerce website from national level media, while also creating wider brand awareness, and indeed awareness of the concept of games rooms and home leisure equipment.


To do this, we proposed the launch of ‘Games Room of the Year’ – a competition to determine Britain’s best games room.

The competition was broken down into the following parts:

  • Competition launch – where we would announce the fact we were on the hunt for the best games rooms in Britain and were actively seeking entries.
  • Finalists announced – we would draw up a shortlist of the top 10, which would then go to the public vote hosted on the HLD website.
  • Winner announced – with the voting in, we would then unveil the winner.

From a link building perspective, it offered threefold opportunity. One, when announcing the competition, we would give the incentive to link to the website to point the way for people to enter. Two, when revealing the finalists, we would give the incentive to point to where people could go to both see the shortlist and vote for their favourite. Three, we would share some pictures of the winning entry with press, while holding some back along with additional video content so that they could link for their audience to ‘see more’.

With a large database of customers to call upon, we asked Home Leisure to announce the competition to their database, whilst we approached press.


At the starting point, getting coverage is a trickier prospect, as the campaign lacks the imagery that naturally comes in as entries begin, while we’re also lacking the human-interest element that emerges later as the real people behind the entries appear.

With national press unlikely to cover it at this stage, we focused on the various regions, opting for the angle of “Do you own the best games room in the South West?” and using HLD’s stock product imagery to kick things off. Without specific local examples as a news hook yet to hand, coverage was still tricky to achieve, but we managed to secure more than 20 regional pieces around the country, including over a dozen follow links as part of that pointing to the entry page.

This, combined with HLD’s database outreach, saw entries begin to come in – which we were then able to utilise to our advantage to further the reach. With specific examples to hand, we could follow up with additional releases, using the angle “Entries flooding in” and offering up sneak peeks of some of those already submitted. This generated more coverage, which again, generated more entries.

From a PR perspective, the golden number was to achieve ten good entries that we could showcase as the finalists. Securing many more than that though, enabled us to pick out some genuine contenders.

With enough secured, the entry stage was drawn to a close and we moved on to the second phase, that of announcing the shortlist.

This is where coverage really begins to pick up, as you have quality, aspirational imagery that taps into an audience’s desire for escapism, while you also have the people element from the entrant themselves.

This stage saw us achieve coverage via the likes of The Mail Online, The Telegraph, The Mirror Online, the Metro, The Sun, Lad Bible, the Daily Star and dozens of regional outlets – with many of these including follow links back to the Home Leisure Direct website as they directed people where to vote.

Follow links aren’t necessarily included automatically in an article, and, more often than not, you have to request that a journalist add them. At this point, we’re in the perfect spot, as when speaking to journalists we can ask for a link to be added (something many are often reluctant to do initially!) with the added carrot of saying “I’ll be sure to share the winner with you” making them more inclined to comply.

This lead into the next stage, where the winner was announced, generating another raft of national coverage, including Lad Bible, The Sun, Mail Online and more again, as well as The Express, and a whole host of others, while many of these outlets also shared on their social channels, helping to drive traffic to the stories and subsequently HLD’s website, while also improving their social media following.

Having first launched the competition in 2015, we delivered it for the next four years in a row, establishing it as an annual fixture and generating hundreds of pieces of media coverage across that time, covering widespread national and regional outlets.

A key factor to consider here is that now the name Home Leisure Direct is synonymous with games room – something that will increase the volume of branded searches (those Googling 'Home Leisure Direct'). This is something that Google views as a trust signal when it comes to determining its rankings – meaning it's likely to boost where HLD appears. So even unlinked brand mentions helps to drive searches and therefore ranking, but with links serving to solidify this in Google's algorithmic eyes.

After 4 years of implementation, having been satisfied with the impact on its rankings, Home Leisure Direct felt the press activity was essentially a case of ‘mission completed’ and it now conducts the competition purely via its social channels and database – which also received a significant boost in numbers thanks to our activities.