It’s been nearly a month since we swapped the rolling hills of the Cheshire countryside for a few days of pebble beaches and chip-stealing seagulls in Brighton for no other than the world’s largest gathering of search marketeers, BrightonSEO. Our bag at Source is traditional PR and all that it encompasses, however we also offer digital services and social media is at the heart of what we do too. So, it was a no brainer for us to head down south and touch up our knowledge with the help of incredible industry experts. This spring, we were lucky enough to hear from a diverse range of speakers from all over the world, including those from the likes of Google, BBC and Moz!
Now, following BrightonSEO there are often an influx of wonderfully insightful blog posts and resources, and we wanted to make sure we weren’t flooding the space, but contributing to it in a helpful way. So we’ve waited a month and decided to use that time to pull together our favourite takeaways learned over the course of 3 days, and how you can apply them to the PR industry. If you’ve got the Brighton blues, come along and refresh your memory with us.
Digital PR And Its Place In Traditional
But first, we want to remind you of a paragraph taken from our last BrightonSEO blog post, and that was about digital PR and how it has its place within the more traditional sectors of the industry. Digital PR is prominently focused on building backlinks to a website for SEO purposes, and whilst this is an important exercise endorsed by the likes of Google-whizz John Mueller himself, we like to make our PR efforts work harder. So, whilst digital is one of our focuses, we find it works best when bedded in with a solid social media strategy and more traditional PR activity such as events, features, interviews, and CSR initiatives. That’s the future as we see it, and it’s an exciting place to be.
10 BrightonSEO Takeaways For The Traditional World
#1 – Traditional PR Is Beneficial For SEO Too (Surprissse!)
We’re beating the same drum again, but one of our favourite takeaways from BrightonSEO Spring 2022 is the reminder that traditional PR absolutely has its place in the digital world. From the number of talks that spoke about the value of brand mentions and nofollow links, to Sarah Flemming’s presentation on syndicated links (which, spoiler, revealed they have more weight on SEO results than many professionals would like to admit). The one big takeaway is that we shouldn’t be chasing backlinks in 2022, but timely and relevant PR coverage that helps boost your brand’s exposure far further than its performance on Google.
— Jessica (@jessicapardoePR) April 6, 2022
#2 – Emotion Should Be At The Forefront Of Your Strategy
The way that content makes the reader feel is important in achieving many goals, whether that’s enticing a customer to purchase, or convincing a journalist to cover your story. The way in which you convey a message can make or break its end goal, no matter what that may be! In a talk on going viral on a budget, Alex Hickson of John Doe hit home this very point, explaining how he used topical and emotional ideas (such as how excited everyone was to see the back of 2020) to create a best-selling product that the press went crazy for. Whether it’s writing copy, social or producing PR campaigns – we like to make sure that we believe in what we’re doing, and that other people will to. Emotion is incredibly important in the industry.
#3 – Search Intent Is A Helpful Tool
We love researching here at Source, and one of the best tools for doing this is Google Trends. Whether it’s from seeing what customers are searching for to ideate blog topics, to using intent to focus your digital PR efforts (by ensuring your campaigns and link building statistic pages are exactly what people are looking for, as shared by Chris Czermak of MacNaught Digital).
#4 – Creativity Isn’t Linear
In perhaps one of the most compelling talks in our BrightonSEO history, Max Hoppy, ex-Google, explained how they teach you to be creative at one of the world’s biggest companies. In short, this involves:
- Not expecting the juices to flow in the workplace (of all the people surveyed, none said they got their best ideas in the office, in fact they came when they weren’t pushing for it, such as in the shower and whilst exercising)
- Switching up environments, Google once sent their employees on a mini break to a farm and they came back super refreshed and more creative than ever
- Following the 3 R’s for the best ideas – related worlds, revolution, random links
- Learning from not just other industries, but other worlds altogether, e.g. Speedo once created swimwear inspired by how sharks move through the water!
#5 – Always Ask: “Who Cares?”
In a discussion on creating genuinely compelling content, Corrie Jones revealed that average brand engagement of promotional posts sits at around 0.05% – 0.08%, which is enough to make any PR or social pro squirm. The solution? Ensure your messages are interesting and actually talk to the reader. At Source we advocate for content that does exactly this, and isn’t a simple hard sell, as we know the best performing accounts are ones that have a switched on and impressionable audience, so when you are ready to promote to them, they’re ready to listen. One thing we really liked from Corrie’s talk was the idea of creating conversations with social, asking more questions, and listening to answers and using that to craft further content down the line.
#6 – Consumers Are Consuming More Than Ever 😬
Another point that really stood out to us, is that the average person sees between 6000 – 10,000 adverts every single day (thanks again to Corrie for that stat!). Traditional and digital marketing industries can all agree on one thing: it’s never been more of a challenge to get your messages in front of your stakeholders. However, we love a challenge at Source and this is why the point we made above, about creating conversations and content your audience wants to see, is SO important in cutting through the noise.
#7 – Trust Isn’t Just Important For The User, But Google Too!
Any good copywriter or PR will understand how vital it is to create trustworthy, well-researched content. So, it was music to our ears to hear that Google values this just as much too. With a multitude of benefits including being more ‘citable’ but also being more favoured by search engine crawlers, we’ll continue to be an advocate of creating pieces that actually offer value, as opposed to those that are simply stuffed with keywords.
#8 – Don’t Just Rely On Your Own Data
Another point we really liked, was from Iona Townsley of NeoMam Studios, who in her talk on creative ideation, suggested looking at sources such as Reddit and Answer The Public to ignite ideas. This is super clever for PR campaigns, which is what Iona discussed, but is also something worth bearing in mind when producing social and web content too – you may think you know your consumer from their interactions on your own channels, but can you go further and research other related topics they’re interested in, and tie that back into your own brand?
#9 – Your Campaigns Should be Culturally Sensitive, Always
Alongside the main event, we also attended the Online PR Show on the Wednesday at BrightonSEO, which included 12 talks from industry professionals. Two of which perfectly put together the importance of cultural sensitivity and inclusivity in everything we do as PRs. It was great to brush up on our latest understanding of these topics, and learn from the very best. Though we think the world has evolved, as revealed by Natalia Sketchley, 54% of people still don’t feel culturally represented. This NEEDS to change. Between two talks by Natalia and Lottie Maddison, our key takeaways were:
- This goes without saying, but your LGBTQ+ messages should NOT just be during Pride month
- Be an advocate where you can, take an active role in trying to improve the very system, or at the very least – be an ally
- Ensure your creative is accessible, is your imagery diverse and are your resources available for colour blind people, for example?
#10 – It’s PR, Not ER
And finally, let’s end on another note that touches on mental health and the importance of looking after our wellbeing. There were 4 talks that particularly stood out to us over the course of 3 days, and those were by Hollie Hines, who reminded us of the challenges of imposter syndrome in PR, and that making stress responses healthy is the best way to deal with it. Kat Nicholls, who covered the importance of taking breaks when researching and writing about difficult topics. Charlotte McIntyre, who did an awe-inspiring talk on staying sane under pressures at work, which included the very important mantra: “no is a complete sentence. And, finally, Jane Hunt, who covered lessons learned from her years of managing JBH and where burnout comes from in PR, what was particularly poignant about her presentation was the emphasis on working with clients who respect you and who align with your values, as well as the importance of recognising stress and sadness amongst your teams and supporting them, without them having to ask for it. This is an incredibly essential topic of discussion in the industry, especially with the added pressures the pandemic brought about. Ultimately, people are what keeps the PR industry running so we need to ensure we’re running a well-oiled machine.
Back to our desks today after a fantastic 3 days at #BrightonSEO. Our Friday was filled with talks on everything from mental wellbeing at work to creating compelling social media 🧠💭 pic.twitter.com/jPjZ9DbqTi
— Source PR (@source_tweets) April 11, 2022
Featured image credit: BrightonSEO.