Work In PRogress – Issue 20 – Ellen Blacow

My Work in PRogress guest this month is the wonderful Ellen Blacow who is a Content Marketing Executive at RVU.

Ellen has spent the last year working on successful digital PR campaigns for RVU’s financial services brand,

I loved speaking with Ellen, where she shared the ultimate components of a winning digital PR campaign, the benefits of investing in an in-house link-building team, plus what being a work in progress really means to her…

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 am a truly awful singer but nothing will stop me from singing Tina Turner’s Proud Mary in the shower. Something about the build-up of the song gives me the best weekend vibes and when coupled with the dance moves performed by Regina King and Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality 2, I think it’s as close to a Grammy-worthy performance I’ll ever get…

What do you love most about your job? 

I love that Digital PR and SEO allow me to be creative yet really analytical. I love working with data and working out how I can make a story from it – especially free, publicly available data. I also really enjoy working on the reporting side of things; I love explaining how the fun, creative campaigns we create can drive SEO and have a real impact on the business.

What mistakes did you make early on in your career and what lessons have they provided you with? 

As mentioned, I love working with the data and finding the story amongst the numbers. However, I have definitely been guilty of overcomplicating things and trying to include too many data points/angles within one email pitch.

While I’m still finding out what works for different media, I now try to keep things very segmented and will split larger campaigns into multiple mini-campaigns in order to ensure the headline angles I find don’t get lost in the crowd.

What components do you think make up a winning digital PR campaign? 

In my opinion, there are a few things that make a winning digital PR campaign:

Robust data – Finding data sources that are reliable and easily manipulated is key. I’ve found that journalists love reputable sources and datasets that they can dive into themselves. My personal favourites are ONS and the World Bank.

Angles – The news agenda over the last 18 months has been very turbulent and the campaigns which seem to fly are the ones that can target different media with different angles. 

Target media – As someone relatively new to the Digital PR side of the SEO world, I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking through niche websites to work out exactly what they write about and how they phrase things. The campaigns which I’ve seen land well on these sites always seem to have a clear understanding of what that segment of the media write about and the level of detail needed to make a story.

Prospecting – While I love a journalist database, I personally think manual prospecting is the ultimate way to make a winning campaign. Diving into backlink profiles, doing manual Google searches and scouring Twitter means you’ll find really relevant journalists who aren’t on ready made lists and being contacted by every other PR.

Do you think more brands should be investing in an in-house link-building team? 

I am naturally biased, but yes! I have worked both agency-side and in-house, and for me, there is something really special about working in an in-house team. I think link building and digital PR are integral parts of wider SEO and marketing teams, and allow cross-department collaboration that can sometimes be missed when working agency-side.

I love the ability to reach out to the wider business to get feedback and providing campaigns that both deliver links but provide benefit to our customers.

“Link building and digital PR is only going to continue booming in the next few years and having teams in-house who understand the brand, tone of voice and position in the market is only going to help to be more reactive and agile.”

If anyone is interested in moving roles or going in-house, we are currently hiring for a Content Marketing Executive to join the team:

Finally, what does being a work in progress mean to you? (Both professionally and personally).

With Google’s algorithms and the media landscape constantly changing, working out what does and doesn’t work is half of the job. So for me, being a work in progress is constantly thinking about alternative ways to get the same or better results. The campaign formats and methods of link building that worked 5 years ago are no longer ideal in Google’s eyes and it’s likely in another 5 this will have changed again.

“Staying agile and open to change is central to progress.”

Outside of work, I’m a keen long-distance runner and I’ve also recently taken up swimming and cycling to venture into the world of triathlons. I know that I’ll never be an Olympic gold medallist but I love putting in the hard work and seeing the results on my personal bests. There is something so satisfying about setting out for a personal goal and reaching it.

You can keep up with Ellen on Twitter here and LinkedIn here.

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