Our Head of Digital PR, Joanna Cunningham, and PR & Outreach Executive, Megan Gibbs, attended this year’s BrightonSEO conference. Here are their insights…
BrightonSEO is the world’s largest search marketing conference and includes fringe shows such as the PR and Linkbuilding Show. The idea behind it all is to give those who work in the SEO and PR industry a space to discuss ideas, learn from others, and network with each other. This helps us to help our clients to become more successful online.
The conference itself is huge, with over 90 experts in the industry coming to Brighton from across the world just to share their intel.
Essentially, it’s a full-on few days where so much useful information is shared from those who are active and well-known in the industry. You’ll need at least a week to process everything afterwards, take it from us! But it’s so worth it and the talks provide rich business insight that attendees can implement in their own day-to-day practices.
With this in mind, we wanted to share with you, what we learnt during our time at BrightonSEO, and provide notes from the Online PR Show and day one of the SEO conference.
This article discusses the main takeaways from each talk we attended.
The talks have been put separated into three themes, these include:
- PR Strategies and Best Practices
- Relationships and Management
PR Strategies and Best Practices
PR News Jacking: the do’s, the don’t, highs and lows – Uday Radia
Uday’s talk about PR news jacking discussed the history of newsjacking and why it’s such a great strategy for PRs to showcase their expert opinions on current affairs. The talk also discussed how quick a response should be to breaking news to gain coverage; something every PR worries about.
Uday stated that, if the story is relevant still, and you provide expert insight to the issue raised, then PRs don’t necessarily need to be jumping on the story immediately.
Instead, there is time to think and consider what value can be added.
He explained you can ‘breathe new life into a story’ even a day or so after the story breaking, as long as you’re providing something new. Some of his tips for ‘to do’s’ in relation to newsjacking include:
- Find breaking news relevant to your company
- Pitch to editors covering the story
- Include approved quotes from relevant experts
- Say why your law firm, in the case of our clients, is qualified to comment
How to use audio and visual media to level up your content strategy – Azeem Ahmad
Azeem’s talk discussed the role that audio and visual media can play in improving content. For us, this could mean adding audio to landing pages that already exist for our clients, or perhaps even videos briefly explaining what the content is about, giving them a new lease of life.
Having visual media also creates more shareable content across different platforms, i.e. video content could be repurposed and shared on relevant social media channels. Azeem explained how video content can also be used to show a company’s personality better online where words on a page may fall short.
Using the 30:30:3 Rule for reactive coverage – Clara Kelly
In this talk, Clara provided insight into how journalists cover a story on an average day. She explains that journalists have 30 seconds to pitch a story, 30 minutes to do a write-up, and 3 opportunities that day to cover the story with a different angle or insight, which is where PRs have an opportunity to submit their reactive piece.
This insight helps give PR professionals an idea of how quick they need to be to gain coverage for a reactive piece of work. Saying that, Clara mentioned that, if there is an ongoing topical story being commented on by many outlets, then there is time to submit a piece of work to a journalist perhaps days after the original news broke.
Another takeaway from this talk drew attention to the relationship between PRs and journalists. It’s long thought that PRs need to build relationships with journalists to gain coverage. However, with Digital PR especially, we know this is not necessarily true, and Clara confirmed that if your story is relevant and valuable to a journalist, then it’s likely to grab their attention.
How to target your dream audience with a personalised PR process - Raluca Zdru
Raluca’s talk really highlighted the importance of creating a ‘holy grail list’ when it comes to choosing which journalists to target. She explained the more personalised outreach has the better chance of it being relevant and more likely to be read by a journalist.
She also explained that, if a story is multifaceted, then it’s best to divide it up into smaller themed segments before reaching out. This way, if the story relates to various sectors, a PR can narrow the information to what is relevant to that sector and tailor the subject lines for more effective reach.
Using digital PR to enhance your EEAT signals – Amanda Walls
Amanda discussed how digital PR work can showcase a client’s experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EEAT) easily and effectively through fun popular campaign ideas. She gave an example of using popular TV soap dramas as talking points for PRs to use to showcase expertise in areas such as law – something we can certainly use in our everyday practice of PR.
Exploring the critical role of consumption in fuelling ideas – Mark Rofe
Mark's talk really homed in on the importance of consuming campaigns, news, and popular culture to inspire ideas and stay in the loop with what competitors are doing. Mark highlighted that sometimes it’s easy to feel a lack of creativity when it comes to designing a campaign.
Mark says that as a PR you don’t always need to be creative, sometimes it’s just about finding a problem the audience might face and solving it with a fun or practical solution. If the problem can’t be fixed, then sometimes it’s good enough just to bring it to attention.
As a direct result of this talk, our PR team have set aside 15-30 minutes each week for campaign research to help fuel their imaginations and come up with relevant and new ideas for our clients.
Relationships and Management
Showing the value of digital PR beyond coverage and links - Isa Lavahun
Isa’s talk discussed the common issues related to digital PR, including unrealistic expectations, budget constraints, a lack of digital SEO knowledge and a lack of objectives within campaigns. She also explained how digital PR work is becoming increasingly more difficult over time.
As a result, PR’s need to be savvy with how we communicate PR results and manage the expectations of clients better. One way PRs can do this is to ‘read the room’ and only show results that particular people care for. For a managing director this could be focusing on the financials, for SEO managers it could mean reporting on links, brand mentions and search changes.
Isa also talked about how PRs should set what metrics to monitor at the start of the campaign - not just using links as the only metric to base success on. This gave us many ideas on how we can showcase the results of a campaign better as it’s easy to feel disheartened when links aren’t achieved.
It’s really given us food for thought in how we report to our clients.
How to manage, inspire and motivate a remote team – Mary Hickey
Mary discussed the issues she faced suddenly managing a remote team when COVID hit and how she adapted to managing remotely herself. Whilst she agreed remote working comes with many benefits, she says not being face to face can cause distance between employees and the business.
She discussed the power of feedback and setting weekly goals, as well as monthly one-on-ones to keep employees engaged, which also helps to empower, give recognition better, and retain staff. This is something we already do here at Conscious!
From newbie to client whisperer: the guide to mastering client communication – Karim Adib
Karim’s talk gave us insight on how we should communicate better with clients, manage expectations and report on all wins with a campaign as opposed to just one metric such as links.
Self-Care at Work
Overcoming the fear of taking time off – Anna Morrish
Anna discussed her struggles with managing a work-life balance as she became a mother last year. She explained that a couple of red flags for this could be where a company values ‘giving stuff’ over fairer working conditions, unlimited holiday days, and issues with paternity rights and pay. A good culture is one that’s fair, supportive, and empowering.
Anna highlighted some reasons why people struggle to take time off due to a bad culture at work but explained the benefits of taking time off is ultimately better for the business overall. The benefits of taking time off work include reduced stress, feeling more motivated, better health and satisfaction with work and life. At Conscious, we’re a Flexa accredited employee and Conscious allows us the flexibility we need.
Optimising self-esteem – Louise Ali
Louise discussed how optimising self-esteem is the best SEO tool there is. She delved into her personal history explaining her battles with her own self-esteem. She explained that as children we tend to adopt, rebel, or adapt to our parent’s behaviour and how this moulds the person we are.
The Main Takeaways from BrightonSEO
Over the two days spent at BrightonSEO, there were a few messages that really stood out amongst the chatter.
We have since implemented some lessons learnt already here at Conscious, including:
- Cornering time off to research campaigns and popular news
- Targeting relevant journalists with more focus on quality over quantity
- Targeting journalists who are in competition with each other
- Taking more time to consider objectives and key messaging before a campaign begins
- Reframing digital PR, sharing results relevant to who we speak to
- Giving more time for strategic thinking
- Consider using popular TV soap moments as a springboard to highlight legal issues
Overall, we had an amazing time, and would recommend any teams looking to spruce up what they do, and reignite their spark and passion for their job, think about heading there this September, or next April.
Maybe we’ll see you there!