4 Reasons Why Your Digital PR Campaign Isn’t Building Backlinks

Posted in: Content | Digital PR

Join thousands of marketers to get the best search news in under 5 minutes. Get resources, tips and more with The Splash newsletter:

Creative campaigns with a digital PR component are an investment, both in time and money. 

So, imagine this scenario… 

A campaign you and your team have been working on for the last few weeks has finally been posted on your client’s site and you’ve launched an email outreach campaign to earn links. After reviewing your pitches, prospects, and media list, you pitch for a few weeks to your top targets, but no one’s biting. Then, at some point, your team asks for a coverage report but you have no links to share. And we’re always determined to find a way to get links and coverage in the end.

Related Content:

What a nightmare – the scenario gives me a shiver thinking about it. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot your campaign. 

Here are four reasons why your link building campaign isn’t building links. 

Your digital PR campaign concept isn’t newsworthy. 

While newsworthiness is more subjective than other metrics, it is important to consider whether your concept, insights, or campaign will actually grab people’s attention. A concept that’s newsworthy will have a hook that helps journalists and media targets understand the relevance of the pitch to their audience, which will encourage them to report on your campaign. 

Media relations and digital PR agencies can help create stories that are going to inform, interest, or affect an audience using the idea of newsworthiness to guide their news-sense. 

Metrics that can help determine newsworthiness include:

  • Timeliness to current events
  • The shock value of the insights 
  • Relevancy of the concept to the target audience
  • Significance of the story to a wide audience (think national story, versus a local story)
  • A human element, or the inclusion of an emotional angle
  • The newness of the content you’re pitching
  • Novelty and uniqueness of the event, product, or story

To be newsworthy, a story or pitch doesn’t need to have all of these metrics, but it is important that the pitch has at least one or two of them. 

A good hook will be able to express the newsworthiness of a campaign or pitch as well as why the target audience should care. A strong and clear pitch paired with a good hook will help increase your chances of media coverage. 

You aren’t targeting the right writers (or enough writers) to cover your pitch. 

Creating an effective and comprehensive media outreach list is very important when it comes to pitching campaigns. In fact, it’s pivotal to the success of a campaign. It is very possible that a lack of media pickup is indicative of your outreach targeting the wrong writers. 

When we’re making media lists and prospecting for targets, a common mistake is to add a writer who has covered something similar to the campaign you’re going to be pitching, but from a different beat or angle. If you aren’t getting links for your campaign, maybe you misunderstood the audience for a publisher or writer. 

That’s why it is very important to understand the different roles of media targets to ensure you are targeting the right people who will actually cover your pitch. Expose your campaign to a variety of possibilities for pickup by making sure you’re evaluating the roles of writers for your outreach list, including broadcast, producers, web editors, and other roles in the newsroom. 

Creating the perfect outreach list is equatable with finding a unicorn in the wild, but we’ve compiled some great tips and tricks to creating the ultimate outreach list that you can use. 

Your creative asset and/or pitch cannot be understood easily. 

The average adult has an attention span of eight seconds. If your pitch and corresponding creative assets (infographics, interactive tables) cannot be understood in eight seconds or less, you’ll lose the coverage opportunity. Your audience should be able to understand the story you are framing for them in that brief curiosity window in order to encourage them to explore more, ask for additional data, or cover your pitch. 

Sometimes, it’s the formatting of the graphics you’re sharing; could they be more clear? More effective in conveying the concepts? Have you sacrificed clarity for creativity?

Other times, it can be the hook of the campaign. Maybe your subject line isn’t strong enough to get the clicks you need to get coverage. In other cases, it could be the pitch you’ve written to frame the campaign. Revisit all of these parts of your campaign to diagnose why you may not be receiving coverage. 

A useful recipe to create a strong frame for a story pitch is to outline: 

  • The reason you made what you created
  • Why it’s valuable and relevant 
  • The new findings your campaign has revealed 

If I can’t effectively answer why the research was commissioned or why we “did something,” I know I need to revise the hook of my campaign. 

You aren’t providing value to your targets. 

Digital PR, media relations, and public relations are all about providing value. So is search intent! When you are pitching a link building campaign, you need to ensure you are providing value to your targets. 

In my experience, developing a conversational yet professional tone in your outreach efforts helps you convey the value you’re adding with your pitch or creative asset. Although many digital PR or outreach specialists might tell you that you need a relationship before pitching a journalist, I don’t agree completely. If you can provide value by sharing a new source, a new story, or a new angle to a target, it’s worth reaching out to them. 

A value-add can be anything from a creative take on a current event, to a new infographic that covers a trending topic in the target’s beat or industry, or a unique quote from an industry professional. Evaluate your options for adding value to the target you’re pitching, otherwise, your campaign may not get coverage from that target. 

How You Can Ensure Your Digital PR Campaign Gets Coverage

While we can never guarantee coverage, there are so many ways you can create quality content, pitch effectively, and get backlinks for your campaign. When you’re beginning outreach for a project, take advantage of all the time you have in order to create a thorough pitching strategy. Make sure your subject line stands out, you’re adding value to the target’s email inbox, and you know how to diagnose your link building campaign before your client asks where the coverage is. 

Still unsure why your campaign isn’t getting coverage? Subscribe to our blog to receive our Link Building Diagnostic Checklist! 

Search News Straight To Your Inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Join thousands of marketers to get the best search news in under 5 minutes. Get resources, tips and more with The Splash newsletter: