How long should brands run their PR activity? It can be tempting for brands to run quick bursts of PR outreach. After all a campaign lasting one or two months can bring in huge results in terms of media coverage and links. But when it comes to building real momentum it really does pay to think long term when it comes to PR strategy.
One of the key reasons for this is a brand’s backlink profile. If a website is to rank well in search it needs a healthy backlink profile and one which looks as natural and organic as possible. If PR outreach is turned on and off at random like a coverage tap the resulting links will look like spikes in a graph.
The danger then is that this can look suspiciously artificial to search engines. Google is looking for signals in the behaviour of a website. If it sees bursts of links going to a site and then falling suddenly away there’s a risk that it could perceive that the site is engaging in some kind of nefarious link building activity or even paying for links. This could lead to reduced performance in search rankings and possibly penalties or, in extreme cases, delisting. In other words it’s not good.
To really win at the search and digital PR game brands should take a consistent approach over many months and years. It’s far better to do a little every month and sustain it for years than it is to throw the kitchen sink at it for a month and then stop for six months then do another burst followed by a hard halt etc.
Taking a long term, consistent approach allows brands to ramp-up and build results which look very natural and organic to Google and the other search engines. This is where digital PR can really help to elevate brands to the next level by creating momentum and delivering dozens of high quality, high authority links every month.
When engaging with a new agency or PR partner brands often want to engage on a short term basis as a pilot project. At Motive we usually engage on a six month basis when we take on a new client and then extend this to 12 months when the client feels comfortable.
Taking anything less than a six month view is counter productive. Bringing in an agency for two months, for example, creates a pressure on them to chase quick wins so they can evidence results in eight weeks time. That’s fine but it might not be the correct strategy for the brand in the long term. It means the agency won’t be reaching out and building long term media relationships which might benefit the brand. And if the activity does come to a stop after two months then Google could see a concerning spike in links.
There’s also another factor which agencies don’t usually share but it’s this - PR campaigns become more effective if they’re allowed the time to really bed in and gain momentum. We have several clients who we have been working with for many years and who often enjoy more than 100 links every month as a result of our PR activity. I am talking about links from high authority media sites with DR of 30+. It isn’t easy to deliver results like those from a standing start. What usually happens is results start out more modestly and build over time. It takes many months to really hit a stride and get the momentum fully flowing.
I often use the analogy of a brand’s reputation being like a massive stone boulder. If the brand has not done much PR activity in the past, or (worse) if it has done some harmful activities, then the boulder is very very heavy. In the first month of engagement the team are putting their shoulders to the boulder, trying to get it to move up a steep hill. It isn’t easy, getting the boulder to roll is hard work. But after a lot of effort it starts to shift, inching forward slowly at first and then, after much sustained effort, a little faster.
After a year or so of pushing the boulder is rolling freely along and the steep hill has reduced to a gentle slope. Fast forward another couple of years and if the PR team have been allowed to consistently apply pressure to the bolder it is rolling along like a train downhill, demolishing anything that gets in its path and bringing in hundreds of items of media coverage and backlinks each and every month.
But if the brand calls a halt to the PR campaign and the team stop pushing then the heavy boulder slows very quickly and then starts to roll back down the hill once again, undoing all the hard work the team have put in.
Ok, so I know it’s not a perfect analogy but I like it. The take away being if you are thinking about your PR strategy going forward remember to give the boulder the time it needs to get rolling.
If you want to know more about setting up a long term PR strategy for your business, please get in touch!