My Work in PRogress this week is the digital PR TikTok queen that is Louise Parker, PR Director at Propellernet.
Aside from her wildly popular digi PR TikToks that reveal all of her top tips on everything from creating coverage to inspire clients, to finding journalists’ contact details, Louise is also one of the nicest and most down to earth people I’ve met in the industry to date, always willing to share her (barrels of) knowledge and experience, and consistently cheering on others.
I loved this conversation about Beyoncé-soundtracked showers, fave campaigns, and what to do when a campaign just isn’t going your way…
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).
Is a whole album okay? Beyonce’s Coachella Homecoming album has to be the shower soundtrack of choice – we recently have had an extortionate water bill come through and I fear it might be down to me wanting to perform at least four tracks per shower.
What are your top three favourite campaigns that you’ve ever worked on?
I’d say our story for Pour Moi that revealed the most popular songs to listen to during sex (both with a partner and alone) would definitely be on the list as doing a campaign about masturbation was super fun.
We ran a story with Celebrity Cruises that involved a big interactive map that showed the places around the world that had been mentioned in songs, it was a HUGE amount of work but the results jusssst about make it all worth it.
And most recently we ran a story with Kuoni that used Google data to create a map that showed where the world wants to go on holiday next year – it’s a pretty simple, digital PR-classic style of story but it was great to be able to do a positive story for a travel brand in these ~trying times~.
What are your favourite topics to ideate around? Which (if any) niches do you think are harder or more competitive to build links in?
Sex and celebrities are my favourite at the moment! They are just such hits with the media and, as you can do some really fun stories within these topics, they often lead to some great ideas that are often very successful.
Trickier ones at the moment are topics that are being affected by coronavirus, so travel, certain types of fitness and going out/eating out. Obviously not impossible, but you risk planning out a great story only for the rules in the UK to change and then it’s not applicable anymore – so I’d just proceed with caution.
Also areas that I find it harder to ideate round are certainly topics that I just personally don’t know much about, so gaming or sports for example – but that’s when it’s really important to bring in other people to a brainstorm who actually have some knowledge in whatever topic you’re focusing on.
What mistakes did you make early on in your career and what lessons have they provided you with that you use in your career today?
Perhaps less a mistake, but more a gap in knowledge – but I never really looked at what other digital PR/SEO agencies were doing with their work. I was good at monitoring media for good stories and trends (and I’m sure some of those were from SEO agencies) but I just didn’t concentrate on what our agency competitors were doing.
So whilst I was plugging away thinking 10 links per campaign was amazing, it was somewhat passing me by that other agencies were getting like 50+. Since being more tuned in to what other agencies are doing, I’ve pushed myself and our PR team to stay competitive and I think we do better work because of it. (Keeping an eye on other people’s campaign is also really handy for building out media lists and finding great data sources!)
What advice do you give to your team if a campaign is not taking off in the way you imagined?
Ha – having this happening right now!
So, I’d first look at it and look to see whether there are green shoots or is it just a total dud – by green shoots I mean, has it had any coverage at all, has it had lots of opens, have there been similar stories that have gained coverage. If you can see those then I think it’s worth pausing and making some changes – this could be changing an angle, going to any ‘easy win’ publications that cover most things, simplifying your email pitch etc.
“It is nearly always the case that some campaigns will under perform and some will over perform so it will likely balance out in the end!”
The hard thing is knowing when to give up and move onto something else – to be honest this will be different for every example and it kind of just relies on having a gut feeling. But if this does happen then don’t be too hard on yourself, literally every single agency has flops. If you can, try and mark out quarterly or even annual link targets with your client so every campaign isn’t so pressured.
I like most of the digital PR industry are OBSESSED with your digital PR TikToks. Why did you start doing the TikToks in the first place, and what do you enjoy about continuing to make them?
Lol – these TikToks have had more attention that I had initially expected. I started them because I was in lockdown, had downloaded TikTok for ‘research’ (/a desperate bid to stay relevant) and started to really enjoy it.
A lot of people on there have a ‘thing’ – so their videos might be about veganism, or dating or living in NYC. Well stuck in my house in Brighton during lockdown, I didn’t have a whole lot going on other than work and after 6ish years working in digital PR I’d been through a lot of common experiences I thought people would be able to relate to. So I made a video about a journalist giving you a nofollow link, it got retweeted by John Mueller which made me think, ‘well if he likes them then maybe there’s something in this’ – and here we are 6 months later…still making my incredibly niche videos.
“I like doing it because it’s completely on my terms, I don’t have a schedule or anything or put any pressure on myself to hit any particular goals, I just made a video when I have the time and I’ve thought of a somewhat funny scenario.”
I didn’t expect it, but it’s also rather heart-warming when people say they like them and share them – has given me a bit of joy during this weird year.
Finally, what does being a work in progress mean to you? (Both professionally and personally).
What’s fun about life is that there’s always the possibility to learn and try new things, so to me we’re constantly in a state of work in progress.