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Ways to find an idea for your digital PR campaign

Some of us tend to romanticise digital PR. We perceive it to be a highly creative and unique practice that comes from the depths of our souls. Imagine PR and outreach specialists hiking to the top of a mountain and meditating for eight hours straight so that they can discover how to increase your brand awareness.

That sounds cool, but it doesn’t reflect reality.

The ideation process of an effective digital PR campaign boils down to learning from past experience and applying best practices. In that sense, it’s similar to music. Today’s hits aren’t built from the ground up—artists are influenced by current songs and timeless classics. The same goes for your PR campaign. In order to succeed, you must explore the media landscape, study your competition and ultimately make your campaign better than anyone else’s.

Get the most out of your client’s brief

This part might feel like a technical necessity to create a commercial offer or proceed with onboarding, but it actually gives you a lot of information about the client: their benchmarks, competitors, past experience, ongoing digital marketing activities, etc. 

There are a few important points that every marketing brief should include. These will give you an idea of what campaign type you should choose.

Ask your client what they have in mind

By simply asking your client what they have in mind or including that field in the marketing brief, you can gather their initial thoughts. Most of the time, when a client is about to start their first PR campaign, they have certain goals for the project. Are there any key messages that they want to communicate to their target audience? Are there pain points in their niche that they’d like to discuss as a form of thought leadership content? 

These simple questions will help you move forward with the brief as well as the PR campaign’s ideation.

Targeted websites/media outlets

Which news outlets and magazines is your client targeting? This is one of the first things you need to learn from their brief. You can then scroll through these websites to get a handle on their content, the editor’s preferences and the most linked type of content (e.g. infographics, coverage of reports, expert opinions, etc.).

You shouldn’t rely solely on the websites your client mentioned in the brief because you obviously need more for the outreach. However, they can serve as a foundation that will direct your team towards specific campaign types and editorial preferences.

Client data and insights

The data that your client is willing to provide is usually a vital and deciding factor in this process. 

Let’s say you’re working with a travel agency that wishes to conduct a PR campaign before the holiday season kicks in. Is it willing to share its top travel destinations over the last 12 months? If so, great. Now you can create heatmaps, charts, etc. Can they share how much money people spend on vacations and sort these expenses by age groups? This is the basis for a data-led campaign that opens the door to infographics and report-type articles.

The data that your client is willing to provide is usually a vital and deciding factor in this process. 

There is one significant drawback with insights, though: Companies often want to look at the campaign proposal first and then decide whether they’ll give out insights or data (which makes sense from their perspective). But even if you can’t get that information during the brief stage, the travel agency from our example should have this sort of data. You can thus ask for it later while explaining what kind of campaign you’re devising.

Exploring the media landscape

Once you have the marketing brief in your hands, it’s time to explore the media landscape. There are multiple reasons why you need to inspect the targeted websites for existing content and news, but in this article, we’ll focus on what will help you develop ideas. 

The process of researching the media landscape is very similar to examining the websites that your client seeks coverage on. 

Identify the gaps

In the pre-outreach stage, you should find websites similar to those that your client is targeting. Try to identify unanswered questions about them. Can your data campaign provide value to them? Is there any specific topic that remains uncovered on which you can write an article? Take notes and bring them to your team’s brainstorming session.

Look up your competitors

Studying what your client’s competitors did in the past regarding media placement and content marketing is not just normal but essential. This will eliminate any chance of duplicates or plagiarism. It will also help you spot any gaps and might provide a clearer picture of your client’s niche. 

A useful tip here would be to check backlinks on your competitors’ content to see which websites have coverage and which content has the most backlinks (only evaluate backlinks from trusted sources).

Study the most successful campaigns

Digital PR has its own trends, best practices and even awards. Checking out the most successful campaigns can allow you to understand the current demand for media content and which campaign types are most cited and backlinked. There are two main approaches.

Browse through awards

As we just mentioned, digital PR hands out its own awards. You can visit the European Agency Awards’ website to view the current year’s shortlist or past winners. The people who choose to nominate one campaign over another are industry leaders in their niche, so having a look at the campaigns is quite beneficial. 

Remember to always use your own judgement, though. Your client’s campaign must be unique and better than anything else around (at least that should be your goal). Browsing through award-winning campaigns will help you understand the media landscape as well as trends set by industry-leading agencies.

Read case studies from other agencies

There’s nothing wrong with learning from what your competitors are doing. In fact, it’s a must to keep up with them. Agencies tend to publish their most successful case studies on their website. Consider these valuable resources. Try to understand what made their campaigns effective and how they achieved that. What tactics did they use? What did they do differently? 

Answering such questions will help you generate ideas for your campaign.


  • Create a detailed brief that will help you better understand your client’s needs as well as what information can be involved in the PR campaign.
  • Explore the media landscape as well as your competitors’ existing content to better understand which type of content is trending.
  • Learn from the most acclaimed PR campaigns and the most successful case studies.


This is the most obvious method to develop ideas, but there’s a reason why we kept it for last. You should only brainstorm as a team once you already have your own ideas in mind. We strongly suggest going through all the steps above first and then bringing your thoughts to the table for internal discussion. That way, your meeting will be much more productive.

You should only brainstorm as a team once you already have your own ideas in mind.

During the brainstorming, your team should come up with 3-5 workable options that you can bring to a client for discussion. Each agency has its own way of presenting these ideas. Some will evaluate the backlink potential, whereas others might draft a tentative structure for their upcoming data-led campaign. At any rate, this step is useful not only to showcase your ideas to the client but also to include what you will require for the campaign (insights, statistics, etc.).

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