Tools for staying on top of current affairs
Understanding your clients’ industries and following the latest updates are necessary steps for developing relevant content that will resonate with their audiences. When you start, especially if you’re new to an industry, it can take some time to get your head around it, however, the key is consistency.
Developing a habit of checking the latest news once a day will not take a lot of your time, but it will build your industry knowledge and strengthen your ability to create content and build links. Dedicating at least 15-20 minutes a day to this will spark different ideas on how your clients can become part of the current industry discourse.
Below are six different tried and tested ways for staying on top of current affairs. Give them all a go and pick the approach that best complements your working style.
Feedly is a free news aggregator that allows you to organise online articles from various publications into feeds. You can create different sub-feeds such as lifestyle, finance, travel and add publications you find most relevant for each sector to a separate feed. For example, if your client is in the beauty industry, you can set up Feedly to pull out the latest articles from publications such as Cosmo, Glamour and Refinery29. Once set up, a quick scroll you will have you caught up with the latest news in the sector.
2. Free local newspapers
Although news publications are increasingly shifting their focus online and our goal is digital coverage, newspapers are still a good indicator of what stories make the cut. Major cities such as London provide free local newspapers that are readily available. The Metro, Time Out, Stylist, Evening Standard, City AM are a few, and all of them have various sections that can be relevant for clients across different industries. Most of the articles published in print also appear online. Reading print editions can help with understanding the tone, demographics and different types of stories that certain publications focus on.
3. News roundups
The digitalisation of media introduced an ‘always on’ mode for news outlets that means articles are published round the clock. In the sea of information available online, it’s important to focus your attention on what’s most relevant to your clients and their business.
By doing a weekly news roundup for different sectors you’re focusing on the most relevant announcements for your clients which helps inform content creation. Keeping your team on top of current affairs results in well-informed ideations and increases the ability to spot reactive opportunities that can help your clients’ voices be heard.
Creating news roundups can be as simple as creating a Google Sheet, populating it with different sectors (travel, finance, lifestyle, technology, etc.) and listing 10-15 of the most relevant publications for each of them. In Builtvisible roundups, we make sure to summarise the article, make note of the journalist, indicate which client/campaign it is relevant for and whether it contains links.
Reddit and Quora are two websites that offer a wealth of audience insights and public opinion. Using them to track the latest trends, conversations and discussions around various topics can serve as inspiration or proof as to why it is important your clients jump on a trending opportunity.
Both websites offer different ways to filter the topics that are of interest to you. While Quora offers a way to arrange the feed according to your interests, on Reddit you can sort the posts by popularity and engagement. They both have a search bar that allows you to put keywords in and get a customised feed that will bring up the most relevant questions for Quora and the most relevant communities and threads for Reddit.
5. Twitter lists and Tweet Deck
We have already discussed 5 ways in which Twitter can help with link building, but its potential doesn’t end there. Twitter defines itself as a “online news and social networking service” and is classified as a news app on iOS and Google Play. This all confirms Twitter’s relevancy for news and journalists alike.
Creating custom timelines for news outlets and journalists with Twitter lists will make catching up with the most relevant tweets quick and efficient. Another way to organise your Twitter feed is by using TweetDeck for media outlets of your choice and compare the way in which news is covered by the different publications. This will reduce the time you need to spend on searching through various Twitter handles by offering the latest information in one place, arming you with insights that can inform reactive outreach strategies.
6. Cooperation with the PR team
Cooperating with your clients’ in-house and/or agency PR teams is of crucial importance for creating relevant content and securing links. PR teams are hot on spotting reactive opportunities because they know both the industry and the brand inside out as well as having established relationships with their regular media contacts.
A joint effort and consistent catch-ups with PR teams will help you understand topics and spokespeople available for reactive contributions. Additionally, if a PR team is conducting reactive outreach, by working with them and accessing the coverage tracker you will be able to go after unlinked mentions as soon as the coverage is secured. This will increase the chances of links being included.
Teaming up with PR teams will also ensure that there is an opportunity to train communication professionals about the impact of SEO and the value of link inclusion within coverage.
Once your understanding of the industry is solid, you’ll be able to spot link building opportunities and advise clients about different ways in which their voice can be heard. For reactive link building, timing is key. That’s why you will need to ensure quick turn-around of opportunities, including clients’ approval, to stand a chance for a feature. These are some suggestions on the format in which you can add value to the news agenda:
Surveys and data
If you notice a specific story that’s relevant for your client gaining a lot of traction, you can offer a fresh, data-backed angle. The recent example of Nike introducing plus-size mannequins to its London NikeTown branch generated a lot of social media and news buzz. To piggyback on the story, Golfsupport.com, surveyed the general public asking if they think more sportswear brands should follow the example set by Nike, landing coverage and links in publications such as the Metro.
According to a survey conducted by Golfsupport.com 83% of people believe more sportswear brands should follow the example set by Nike and include plus-size mannequins in their advertising.
A survey is not the only way to add value to the story – it may be your client has recently conducted research that would be beneficial to the conversation. In this case package the data so the insights respond directly to the news you’re trying to address and pitch to journalists who are covering it.
Use your clients’ expertise to comment on breaking news and announcements. When the news breaks, journalists are always keen to get the opinion of industry experts. For example, stories about the Woodford fund scandal have been regularly featured for days if not weeks in both national and financial news outlets. Nutmeg, the UK’s first digital wealth manager, used its CIO’s expertise and provided a comment on the matter, generating coverage in key industry publications. The below article from Financial Times is one of many where the comment was featured.
While investors who bought the Woodford fund based on the recommendations of a best buy list are left wondering when they will be able to redeem their investments, it calls into question the broader appropriateness of best buy fund lists. It’s time the regulator revisited best buy fund lists and whether they are acting in the best interest of consumers.
Social Media contribution
Social media platforms are an unpredictable place where sometimes one post can go viral and top the trending charts in a matter of minutes. Frequently, news outlets report on such stories and the brands that manage to get on the bandwagon quickly enough with interesting content, enjoy the fame too. In such instances, it’s important to be cautious and make sure that this is a relevant engagement for your client’s brand as when mishandled, it can result in backlash.
It’s not every day that the President of the United States misspells Wales as Whales and creates a new title – the Prince of Whales, but when he does the internet goes crazy. In this instance, Paddy Power provided a very basic illustration of “the Prince of Whales” that has gone viral. Many news outlets including Buzzfeed and Elite Daily have covered the viral tweet, linking the article to the company’s Twitter profile. Not only is this beneficial for gaining new engagements and followers on social media channels, but it also represents an opportunity for reaching out to news outlets that covered the viral story for unlinked mentions.
Reactive link building that involves clients’ contributions and jumping on current online discussions requires an excellent understanding of the brand and the industry landscape. Hence the first step is to get under the skin of the brand and make staying on top of current affairs a daily habit. After some time, you will be able to quickly recognise reactive opportunities for your clients and recommend an approach that will contribute to their brand image, the share of voice and generate links and coverage.
Have you tried reactive link building before? What are your experiences? Share your thoughts with us and let us know how you get on with the approaches outlined in this blog post.