My Work in PRogress this week is the hugely talented Alex Cassidy, who is the Digital PR & Outreach Manager at RVU.
Since I started in the digital PR industry over two years ago now, Alex has stood out to me as someone who is undeniably knowledgable and skilled at building links. Having previously gained endless outreach top tips from his presentations at events such as outREACH conference and Brighton SEO, I knew I had to get Alex on the newsletter, to share his invaluable insights.
I really enjoyed this conversation with Alex in which we chatted about the differences between in-house and agency digital PR, as well as Alex’s top tips for starting out in the industry.
What is your ultimate shower song? (The song you can give a 10/10 Grammy-worthy performance on in your shower on a Saturday morning).
I’d have to go with Sweet Dreams, TN by The Last Shadow Puppets.
Do you have any ‘dream’ publications that you’d love to build a link on?
Sadly, I have never personally outreached and secured a BBC link, which has to be my ultimate bucket list link. Been close a few times but unfortunately never got it over the line (yet)!
Did you always know you wanted to work in digital PR? Why do you think you’re good at the job?
Like many others, I started working in journalism and had a history of writing.
“I don’t believe there are many innate skills required to be good at this job, aside from natural curiosity and work ethic.”
I put a lot of time and effort in the first few years of my career into exploring the minutiae of what gets links.
Writing and rewriting emails, understanding journalists and the media landscape, and generating ideas. It was building that initial foundation that set me up for later.
Having moved from an agency to in-house, what do you think are the key differences between the two roles?
The job is fundamentally the same, it’s building links and earning coverage. But I would say there are two key advantages I can see from in-house.
Firstly, the team have a lot more opportunity to experiment with ideas, both because of time benefits and expectations.
Secondly, if you’re a brand that works with multiple agencies, as we are, you get to witness multiple campaign styles, ways of working and generally get exposed to a lot more industry expertise than you would be exclusively at an agency.
“Agencies can become echo chambers if they’re not careful”
I’ve learned massive amounts in the few months switching over just by getting the opportunity to see others work more directly.
Do you think more brands should be investing in an in-house digital PR or link-building team?
It seems like a logical step for a lot of brands to, at a minimum, start adding a layer of link building and SEO into their internal PR teams. The continued merging of the PR/SEO Venn diagram is particularly effective with newsjacking and reactive strategies, simply because you have the experts immediately available and a unique understanding of your service.
With that in mind, I don’t think there’s a need for agency or in-house, it’s a matter of working out the approach that can combine the best of both worlds.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in the industry?
In the last two years particularly, there has been a wealth of resources posted on Digital PR & Outreach. There are now a myriad of conferences talks to watch, podcasts to listen to, and blogs to read, all of which provide different but effective ways of working. Just consume as much of it as you can, and try methods until you feel the one that suits you click into place.
Secondly, learn a lot about types of campaign. That is to say, when you see Twitter threads or case studies of successful campaigns, learn the methodologies.
“Learning the methodologies will help your own campaigns massively, you will be able to apply them to a client in a completely different industry, or even a completely different marketing channel.”
It’s the difference in teaching yourself how to fish, rather than being given one.
Finally, what does being a work in progress mean to you? (Both professionally and personally).
Jonny Wilkinson said recently on a brilliant podcast, ‘I see myself in every situation as undecided potential’.
I see this as making the most of the moments throughout the week where you make a conscious decision on being productive or not being productive. Making sure you’re maximising those moments, and pulling yourself up when you don’t, is my definition of being a work in progress.