Last month digital marketing agency Impression launched monthly podcast OutSpeech for PRs, marketers and SEOs who want to build links effectively. Its host is digital PR specialist Jess Hawkes, who will be addressing the evolving discipline of digital PR, the latest trends and challenges.
‘There’s so much chat about digital PR across the internet already, particularly on Twitter, and sometimes it feels like it’s the ones who shout the loudest that get the most attention. I wanted to create a platform for everyone to have a say and a podcast is such an accessible format to do that.’ Read more to find out how Jess hopes the podcast will allow more opinions from the digital PR industry to be heard, without shouting about it.
How did you enter the world of PR?
From a young age I’ve always obsessed with language, in particular the power it can hold in shaping ideals and changing minds. I realised very quickly that it was easier to talk my way out of something by using language effectively, and this level of influence fascinated me. Naturally, this led me straight into the world of PR and marketing.
Why do you think a podcast will be a good vehicle to use to discuss the digital PR industry?
There’s so much chat about digital PR across the internet already, particularly on Twitter, and sometimes it feels like it’s the ones who shout the loudest that get the most attention. The digital PR industry is broad though, and I wanted to create a platform for everyone to have a say – a podcast is such an accessible format to do that. You don’t have the sometimes toxic Instagram culture that comes from social media, and you don’t have to spend hours reading through blogs and articles – it’s something anyone can stick on in the car or on the train.
What are you hoping that the podcast can achieve that perhaps hasn’t been done before?
There are already several PR and SEO podcasts, but nothing specific exists for digital PR, which is such an evolving discipline. I wanted to be able to create something that would really be able to shape our malleable industry in a way that represents everyone.
Are there any other podcasts that you will draw inspiration from?
Professionally, I think PR in a Car is a really great resource for broader traditional PR topics. In my spare time, I like to listen to Guilty Feminist, and I’ve long been a fan of the Joe Rogan casual style of interview whereby you just encourage the guest to speak their mind in a relaxed environment.
Which trends do you expect will increasingly come up in your discussions?
Digital PR is changing all the time, so there’s always discussions about where it is going and what will be the ‘next big trend’. We have set topics for the year, which includes measurement, link buying, influencers and the rise of the affiliate.
What would you say are the biggest misconceptions of the digital PR industry?
A lot of people who speak to me from traditional PR seem to think digital PR is simply an online version of PR, and completely miss the link building side of it. Digital PR is entirely different to ‘doing PR online’. It’s a discipline built from SEO and fundamentally differentiates itself from traditional as it is measurable, and can tangibly prove the value and ROI to clients through organic search benefits, rather than ‘awareness’.
How do you expect the shape of digital PR to change in 2020?
I think this year in particular there will be a lot of chatter around relevance, and how that will play a broader role in the style of link building activity that is happening; whether it will still be applicable to create news that sits on an orphan page off the main domain and has little bearing on the actual user journey, or whether we’re going to have to start being far more integrated with our marketing and digital PR efforts.
Is discussion of mental wellbeing in the PR industry overdue?
PR is a discipline which, no matter how it is managed, will always have some level of uncertainty or lack of control, and I believe this has multiple repercussions on mental wellbeing. In so many jobs the outcome of your work directly reflects what you put in, but this isn’t always true in PR since there are so many variables to getting a result. You can put a load of physical and emotional resource into a campaign and get very little in return, as success hinges on a whole host of wild variables, sometimes including the weather or the mood of a journalist!
This is only heightened in digital PR, as there are so many more variables to consider. Even if you get a result and a journalist features your piece, digital results can always be better; they need to include a link, it needs to be followed, from better domains, more optimised anchor text or going to deeper, more targeted areas of the site, to name a few. It leaves digital PRs potentially feeling that no matter what they do, they could always be doing better. That can be a positive motivation, but on the other hand, you can understand why this mentality might wear people out and be a detriment to mental wellbeing if it isn’t addressed.
Who would be your dream guest to interview, from the world of digital PR or otherwise?
Hands down: Edward Snowdon. For me he represents the often lost, true integrity of the media.
Listen to Jess Hawkes on the OutSpeech podcast here.