• Georgia Hatton

Why your website should be at the heart of your PR campaigns

By Sarah Evans, Senior Digital Strategist at Bottle.

If you don’t have an element of your campaign on your own website, then you’re missing a trick. PR campaigns that live on beyond the coverage they generate are the ones that will deliver lasting value for both your brand, and your audience.

Your website should be a place that you’re proud to send people to, and over time, becomes the destination itself. Here we look at a few reasons why you should always include your owned channels alongside your earned.

Coverage is the first step in a journey

Gaining high quality press coverage and reaching your bullseye audience on a regular basis are just a few of the reasons why PR is such an important thread of any company’s brand and marketing strategy.

Once the coverage is online, its shelf life may be limited, as it will inevitably get pushed down by the sheer volume of other news.

Capturing attention and encouraging them to learn more on your own website lengthens the amount of time they spend with you.

Builds your site’s authority and visibility

Supporting content in the form of video, in-depth or complementary articles that delve deeper than your coverage and behind the scenes pictures and interviews are just some ideas for supporting content. Even the reasons why you’re running the campaign would be great context for someone who had their interest piqued and wanted to find out more.

Make it a ‘reason to visit’ for the audience and a ‘reason to link’ for the journalist (because you’re not automatically entitled to one).

Great earned media coverage with links back to your site will undoubtedly support your SEO efforts and improve your search visibility. They must be good quality links from trusted and relevant sites, that drive long clicks on your own website.

Long clicks never used to be the goal of SEO, but our experience with clients is that this kind of referral traffic outperforms the site average in terms of engagement by two or three times… and in turn makes those links even more valuable for your brand awareness and audience engagement.

You’re in control (and traffic is precious)

Elsewhere online, you have a very limited time to make an impression on your audience. Attention span can be fleeting, or your content could be visible for a split-second mid-scroll. Organic reach has been dipping on Facebook for years, Instagram is following the same trend, just four or five years later, and the lifespan of a Tweet is only 18 minutes.

Less than half of Google searches result in a click (a trend that seems to be accelerating), so this could even be a threat to your site traffic. How reliant are you on organic traffic?

It can take a lot of money and effort to even be present, let alone stand out and remembered in those places. You still need to be there because that’s where your audiences are, but the point is: it’s a huge risk to rely too heavily on these channels, without anywhere of your own to take people to.

You’re not in control of the rules on these channels – organic reach dips, algorithms change and cost per click rises. You have to play the game; but on your own website, you have full control of what the audience sees when they get there. You’re not restricted by formats, templates, image specs or character limits, so you get to be fully blown you.

Build a deeper relationship with your audience

Make the most of every person that lands on your website. You know the kind of person who’ll be landing on your website, right? You’ve probably done search behaviour analysis, built personas and created content especially for them. You know what they’re interested in, what’s keeping them up at night, and what information they’re looking for.

Be generous with your knowledge in a way that’s meaningful and memorable to them, and they’ll stay on your site for longer. They may even find you so useful that they come back again (and again). It can be a great opportunity to go beyond your product and proposition to show your audience your passion about things that they care about as well.

They may even circumvent those initial channels they originally found you through and come directly to your site (the marketer’s holy grail). This means they’re more likely to trust you, and you’ll be front of mind when they are in market for that thing you sell.

You could also keep them connected to you by encouraging them to follow you on social media so they can regularly hear from you.

You can measure it

When someone lands on your own website, you can follow their journey to purchase (or not) so that you can keep learning and keep improving. There are of course analytics available on third-party platforms like social, or Webmaster Tools, to give you a sense of how your content is performing elsewhere (although less so on the media coverage you’ve earned that lives on a publisher’s site).

Having your website as the anchor of this activity can help provide a huge piece of the puzzle as to whether your PR campaigns and activity are driving meaningful action…

  • Are your brand searches going up?

  • Did your dedicated campaign landing page get an influx of traffic, what content really resonated with people?

  • Did it introduce people to your website for the first time; people who came back on a subsequent visit and converted?

These are all things we can meaningfully measure and benchmark success against. The stats that all board meetings love.

Fuel your other marketing channels

PR can work in harmony with your other marketing channels, particularly search and social. But have you thought about your PR activity fuelling your remarketing campaigns?

Once the person is on your site, they have shown interest – that is becoming an ever-more-meaningful and precious action. Once they’ve done so, they’ve effectively qualified themselves as a lead. They wouldn’t have clicked on your ad, piece of content or sponsored post about being a keen gardener if they weren’t keen on gardening, would they?

Once they’ve sent you those signals; don’t lose them. Drop a cookie and keep them in a list to remarket to with other similar messages (not always product right away… but instead more content like that so they don’t feel force-fed with your brands offering).

Then, nurture them gently like a hydrangea, using other channels like social media or email.

We hope this provides enough reasons to always consider an onsite activation for all of your PR campaigns, with coverage working alongside site content, and where you can build a better relationship with people you hope will be customers one day. It’s a precious piece of your digital footprint where you’re in complete control, and people need to know it’s there.

Read more: Top Tips for Gaining PR During a Crisis

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Marketing Island is an award-winning online marketing magazine set to inspire those in the digital industry.