Joining an experienced Digital PR team meant that I had plenty of resources to hand when learning about Digital PR. I have a background in journalism and languages and I wanted to put these into practise within the Digital PR industry. It was great to join a company that were willing to train people up. However, it did mean everything was a learning experience, with some steep curves at times. The Dark Horse team were really supportive and made it a smooth journey.
The first thing I learned was how to channel suitable ideas for a campaign. Having regular, scheduled meetings to tackle ideation wasn't particularly useful and nor was just daydreaming about what to write about for hours on end. Inspiration can come at any time, which is why only allocating 3pm on a Monday as "inspiration day" is pointless. The team at Dark Horse shared all the ideation documentation for clients so that any ideas could be written down as they occurred. Only then would we have a meeting to go through the actual ideas we had and refine or develop them, rather than use a meeting to try and generate ideas.
The most important rule I learned for campaign ideation was to not try and reinvent the wheel. So the first thing I did was subscribe to Digital PR specific mailing lists so that I would be constantly exposed to fresh ideas from across various industries, this helped spark ideas. I would also go through successful campaigns (both internal and external) to see what worked and how best to utilise the lessons learned.
Keeping up to date with cultural trends and the newscycle is just as important as following industry trends. During my first month at Dark Horse (and even now) I consistently read news and magazine articles. Plus, we ofen have lots of chat within the team about the latest topics and trends. Figuring out something as ever changing as people's interests and what the public's opinions are on those topics is difficult at times, but is important nevertheless.Â
Once I had learned how to know what was going on in the cultural zeitgeist, finding the relevant datasets was as large a task. Keeping a wiki of different data sources meant that research was far quicker. This was a top tip. I've enjoyed getting into the habit of constantly updating the wiki with new sources that might be relevant for future campaigns.
The part of the job that was a completely new concept to me was outreaching to journalists with campaigns I had created. I've started with the slightly more time intensive approach of writing the pitches as if they were articles, and providing images and data visualisations to make them more appealing. Finding journalists who write on topics that are relevant to your campaign was an initially time consuming task as it was the first time I had done this. However, with enough keyword research, I have cut down the time it takes to find the right journalists for the campaign. One thing I was warned about, although I didn't quite believe it, was the amount of unopened emails. Although, an unanswered email doesn't always mean ignored.
I was surprised that even when a campaign has been picked up by a journalist, the odds of them letting you know is zero. So tracking a campaign is just as much an artform as everything else I learned. Unfortunately, most of the tools, like ahrefs and talkwalker alerts are temperamental and slow at best. So learning how to use Google with such specificity was needed, allowing me to show clients the true results of the campaign.
And that's my first month as a Digital PR Executive. So far it's been an exciting journey, not only on the work side, but also on the social side. I've loved getting to know the team and work for a company who listen to new ideas. I'm confident that with more experience under my belt, the pitches and campaigns will continue to improve.