The 3 Core Stages To Nailing Digital PR & Acquiring Editorial Links

Digital PR is a term thrown around a lot moving into 2019. Similar to what “growth hacking” was a few years ago, seems to be where this term is heading as well.

But, in my opinion, digital PR is the single most cost-effective marketing strategy for your time/money. There are a few reasons why but the main one is; if you can achieve links in editorial media, not only are you going to be generating referral traffic and have these awesome links, but this method is almost impossible for your competitors to replicate or copy. As a result, in short; when done correctly digital PR strategies kill it.

In this post, we’ll cover digital PR and how to approach it on a broad level with some specific examples I’ve seen implemented really well over the past few years. This should also be aligned with your regular link building strategies.

There are some great resources on how to acquire these medium/low competition links, such as Craig’s link building course which is still super sharp and we also have a link building resource for anyone interested. Let’s crack on.

Stage 1 – Something of value

Link building is just a value exchange. To gain editorial links you have to ensure this value exchange is actually beneficial to both parties. For example; guest posts work so well because the value exchange is relatively even (when done correctly), you simply write a detailed, well written article for someone else’s site, they receive good content, you receive your link, everyone is happy.

But outside of guest posting the value exchange line gets a little blurred.

Take resource link building for example. The reason why resource link building is becoming more and more difficult is because the “resource” in question isn’t actually that good most of the time. On top of this, edits are now quoting a fee to be placed on these lists. “Marketers ruin everything” is a term that comes to mind quite a lot when I look at the techniques that used to work like a dream but now, in short, kind of suck.

For digital PR we have to build something of extreme value to make this process easier. But, the key is of value to whom? – Your target stage 2 “person of importance”.

high pr links

These “persons of importance” get pitched hundreds of times a week and most of the time us link builder folk just fall into the mass that get ignored. So, as a result you have to reverse engineer what your person of importance wants. Without getting into too much detail it usually comes down to three things:


  • Money.
  • Exposure (fame/recognition etc).
  • Keep their jobs/positions.


Obviously you can approach journalists with money but generally, the quotes you’ll receive will be extremely high and not worth your time. Instead, we want to focus on making their lives so easy to do the second two points. How do we do this? – We simply let them take credit for all our hard work….. That’s your value exchange.

Usually, this hard work is going to be in the form of a piece of content but it can honestly be anything. Sometimes your hard work might be getting that journalist to meet with a contact you personally have that they want to meet, other times this may involve leveraging your skills to get them into a key event/function, but 95% of the time as we are all introverts in the SEO industry, this is going to involve building a visual, non-commercial, super-interesting piece of content.

Reason for this – These get picked up by journalists as they know they will generate them pageviews. There’s a great book on this called Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. One I’d recommend anyone in link building to read.

I’m not going to run through the content curation process as we’d be here all day but in short there’s 3 general rules to follow:

  • Non commercial.
  • Visual (and easily shared/linkable).
  • Interesting (if you heard the title would you click the post?)

There’s two examples I love that were picked up by tons of editorial media below:

These processes are repeatable as well. If you look at the renegade pharmacist’s example, they ran the exact same process with Diet Coke and got another 180 referring domains!

Diet coke exposed

Once you have this piece you’re ready to move on to stage 2.

Stage 2 – Someone of importance

Stage 2 is to find someone who is the editor, contributor or writer of the specific publication you want to be featured in. There are multiple tools that enable you to do this but a lot are crazy expensive so for this example I’ll just run through a manual process.

Start by listing out every major relevant publication of editorial media you’d like to get featured in. The size of the campaign will obviously depend on how many sites you have here. For this example we’ll say 20.

Once these 20 sites are built out, go to the site and search for journalists and contributors. You can also look for staff of the company as well but we’ve found contributors tend to work better as usually they are only part-time but still have quotas to hit. Finding these people is extremely easy, it will usually say whether someone is a contributor or a staff/editorial member:

Editorial staff

Build out a list of 3+ contributors/journalists on each publication with their email address but ensure the following is in place first:

  1. They’ve published in the past 3 months.
  2. They’ve written about a similar topic to what your content is talking about.
  3. They aren’t famous/big-time writers.

We’re looking for relevant contributors here that don’t have too large a following. Generally speaking they are a lot more receptive to being approached than the larger than life characters.

By this point you should have your content piece live on your site (most likely in a visual format) and around 60+ journalists/contributors on your list/spreadsheet.

Stage 3 – Send your something important to your someone important (shocker)

Don’t overthink this stage.

This is where a lot of SEO’s and link builders go wrong. They severely overthink this. Remember, you are in fact doing these people a favour, not the opposite way round. The value (assuming your content is good enough and interesting) is tilted to you, so don’t be shy.

Usually during this stage I’d recommend building out a simple, short pitch (2 lines) and sending a link of your content piece to them. The pitch itself really isn’t the important part. Just remember to pre-sell your item: “Based on what you’ve previously written I think your audience might love it and should do really well on the pageviews side too.”

You send this to 60 of your contacts in a personalised way and (if you’re super keen) ping them on Twitter too.

pr links

Your content’s quality and relevancy will reflect in the number of links you receive. if you get zero from the entire campaign; your content was crap. If you get between 1-5 then most likely, your content wasn’t great and your journalist prospecting was pretty weak. If you get between 5-10 then that’s usually a decent campaign but your pitch probably could have been improved. As a result, simply find more contacts and reach out to additional ones to increase that live link rate. Finally, a live link rate of 10-15 is what you’re aiming for from each campaign you run.

Assuming you had an overseas team member generate the data and do the prospecting for the campaign the entire campaign should only put you back in the range of $300-500.

Article by:

Tom Buckland is the founder of HQ SEO, an SEO focused marketing agency based in Cardiff UK. Tom’s been implementing technical SEO, optimisation and link building for clients worldwide focusing on an ROI approach to SEO. If you have any questions you can find him on Twitter.

Need help with your SEO and link building campaign? Feel free to get in touch to find out how we can help you!


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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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