Link Building for Interns: The Game

Posted in: Content | Digital PR

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Congratulations, Intern! You just landed an amazing opportunity to learn from experienced professionals, hone your skills, apply your education, and explore the world of digital marketing. Now that you have the game in your hands, it’s time to play.

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Do the Tutorial

When you begin, it’s vital for you to understand what’s going on or else you’ll be button-mashing wildly. Those who are too eager and skip instructions usually miss key concepts. 

Learn the Controls

To produce what’s expected, you have to know what’s expected. You’ll need to find out exactly what your client’s expectations are, the strategies your team uses for link building, and how to complete the individual tasks you’ll be working on. Therefore, pay close attention to each piece of instruction you receive and don’t be afraid to ask good questions. Engaging with your mentor on the subject matter will not only ensure your comprehension but also show that you care. Plus, you don’t want to get to level 84 and then realize you had an ability you weren’t using the entire time. 

Press (A) to Start

Once you’ve completed the tutorial, you can jump into the action. It’s much easier to learn by doing than it is to get a freeze frame from your mentor for every single scenario.

Develop a Quest Plan

There are a lot of super important back-end tasks that go into link building campaigns. With campaign production, your job is to set the mission up for success. When generating campaign ideas, use your naivety and fresh perspective to your advantage by shooting for the stars. You can always make an idea more practical later. If it’s really outlandish, make sure to include a potential strategy for data collection as well as your hypotheses for pitching angles. If there aren’t any wheels, you can’t drive. It is also important to keep a pulse on what’s happening so you can brainstorm trendy ideas as well. Reading the patch notes can give you the inside scoop on buffs and nerfs before other players notice.

Gather Intel

When working on data collection, think critically about the structure of the study and make sure the research is sound. If you’re not buying it, no one else is. If you think that you need to change methods to produce newsworthy data, speak with a mentor about potentially pivoting in a different direction. Good reconnaissance can win you the match. 

Locate Targets

Once the dataset is complete, the outreach begins. With campaign promotion, your job is to finish what the production process started by finding the story in the data and earning coverage. When you build a contact list, find the beats that align with the campaign angles the most. If you’re struggling to find relevant beats, get really creative with the angles; as long as there’s a tie-in, there’s a path to victory.

Hit the Mark

If you get the chance to pitch contacts, use your knowledge of pop culture and timely events to hook their attention, outline the story within the data, and make your insights fascinating. Remember, if you’re not buying it, no one else is. Keeping up with the news cycle and looking out for newsjacking opportunities are also vital outreach strategies for success. If you apply what you’ve learned about your role with your skills and always keep your goal in mind, you’ll get to crushing levels in no time.

Pay Attention to Tips

We all get stuck on a hard boss battle at some point. The key is to remember that feedback from your mentors is integral to learning and improving. If someone tells you that you need to amend your work or switch up your methods, they’re likely giving you valuable XP. 

Revamp Battle Strategies 

When you reach a roadblock, you should try your best to figure it out on your own first by using the resources available to you. If you’re completely lost on a task, consider the following questions to help frame your next move:

  • What will this task look like when it’s finished?
  • How does this task help generate links for the client?
  • What extra effort can I put forth on this task to make sure this campaign is successful?

If you can’t answer those questions, reach out to your mentor for guidance. Then, get to work. Often, you have the skills, you just need to better understand your mission. With your eyes on the prize, you’ll adapt and navigate to the finish line every time. 

Level Up

Just because you defeat a few enemies doesn’t mean you’re a master quite yet. Never stop finding ways to improve your efficiency. You can do this by looking for the shortcuts that save time without jeopardizing quality. 

Utilize Secret Tunnels

You can reorganize the steps in your personal processes to create harmonious pathways to victory. For example, if you highlight the email column in your contact list and then run the command sequence (Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cells Rules > Duplicate Values… > OK) to highlight duplicates first, the column will stay highlighted for you to run the command sequence (Find & Select > Go To Special… > select Blanks > OK > highlight Delete dropdown menu > Delete Sheet Rows) to eliminate blank rows second. If you do it the opposite way it’ll take extra keystrokes. Maximizing your efficiency saves time and helps build good habits that protect your work quality. There’s usually more than one way to get the gold; never stop looking for the strongest and fastest combo.


There will come a time when your original mission is complete. You’ll put in the effort by paying attention, asking questions, exploring, doing the work, improving, and then doing the work better. Finally, you’ll see the results: almost all of the feedback you’ll get will be positive reinforcement, the campaigns you assist with will get links, and you’ll earn your very first piece of coverage from a top-tier publication. Let’s go! The grind always pays off.

Set New Goals 

You may eventually feel like you’re finished, but don’t stop there! Start the game over and aim for a perfect run. Beat the record on the time trial by milliseconds. Shoot for #1 on the leaderboard. Never settle. Do that, and you’ll keep learning, growing, and leveling up for the rest of your career in digital marketing. You have what it takes to do more than just play the game. You have what it takes to conquer the game. Always remember that! 

Congratulations, Intern! You just completed Link Building for Interns: The Game. You may be ready for the sequel. 

A New Game Hits the Shelves – Do You Have What It Takes? Link Building for Digital PR Professionals: The Game. Coming Soon!

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