When the news agenda is dominated by one story, how can digital marketing professionals cut through the noise?
On Thursday 30th April at 3pm (BST) 2020, Carrie Rose, Co-founder and Creative Director of Rise At Seven joined Jon Payne in Episode 4 of Business as Unusual - Cutting Through The Noise With Digital PR.
What a delightful and enlightening chat. Carrie is full of ideas, has seemingly boundless energy and is a brilliant SEO. There was so much to learn from our chat I struggled to make enough notes about the advice I found most useful (Carrie can teach this old dog A LOT of new tricks!) so here's a cut down version of my notes, followed by a transcript of the video.
Discretionary budgets have been slashed. Surely without the money for expensive shoots, experiential events, celebrity endorsements - there's no way we can get a big PR splash right now?
Not the case - Carrie came up with the idea for this article for one of their clients: Virtual Staycations - 13 British Landmarks To Visit From Your Sofa using her imagination, a few basic Google Searches and Google Trends.
Her reasoning was that people needed escapism during lockdown, so she got her team to create some using existing assets and some great new copy. Then they pitched it to one or two key publications that had been writing articles that were be-moaning the lack of opportunity to get outside.
Brilliant. All that takes is some hustle, some free tools, some Googling, a large dollop of imagination and (I'm sure Carrie would agree) a little bit of luck.
Check out the coverage the article has, and the editorially justified backlinks it has earned. Digital PR & SEO brilliance!
Carrie was driving past a car sales garage recently and noticed that all the cars were dirty, covered in dust and the whole place looked like it was slipping into rack and ruin. Who's gonna buy a car from that place, when we come out of lockdown? Of course, it's difficult to keep it all together right now but keeping the metaphorical cars clean in your business will serve you well in the long term. A bit of brand awareness - deploying sensitive, authentic, content - can do that locally, nationally and internationally.
Whatever you pitch to a publication - make sure you have a version of the story on your website with more data, links to other websites, or anything that isn't worth the journalist who's using your story adding to their website - they might want to read that useful context, but more than likely they just want to fill some space and link back to a deeper resource. Your site must have that resource. Check out the 13 British Landmarks again - not only has Carrie and her team found all the useful photography but they've linked to virtual tours, Facebook pages and other cool stuff about each location. The journalist doesn't want to copy ALL that into their quick article, so the client is more likely to get a nice, juicy, editorially justified back link.
Jon Payne (00:01):
Hi, I'm Jon Payne and welcome to Business as Unusual. Business as Unusual is a weekly session where we deep dive into how the likes of you and I, and Carrie in this case, as business owners, marketers and salespeople, can stay productive, profitable and at peace in the pandemic and whatever comes after. This episode is all about digital PR and how, among other things, it can help your SEO efforts. Our guide to all of this is Carrie Rose. Hi Carrie. Carrie is the founder of Rise at Seven, a creative SEO agency based in Sheffield, the steel city here in the UK. Carrie, tell us, how did you get your start in what it is you do? What came first for you? PR or SEO, or what?
Carrie Rose (00:54):
So I guess it's kind of a mix. I studied at uni in like what, 2011? At University of Leeds. My course was New Media, which at the time, so I was really interested in everything digital and everything new, but there was only like two universities that did that course. So it was everything that was creative digital, from, I even did bits of animation to web design, web development. So I learned how to do code, which was a nightmare. I ended up, I even paid some kids to do it for me once. I'm not a good coder. But yeah, we did, you know, the typical kind of advertising, PR, marketing and bits of SEO as well. But if I'm completely honest, the module on SEO is nothing like what it is today. So I guess the PR really started by creating stories, telling stories with a bit of digital in there, but yeah, it was when I started in an agency that I really started to understand what SEO meant.
Jon Payne (01:50):
Right. Right. And so, being an SEO myself, I struggle. In fact, I was on a call with my mates at the weekend, like so many of us now, right, on zoom calls with our mates having a drink on a Saturday. And my oldest friend, I think probably I've known him for, gosh, 40 something years. God, we're both really old. He well, and I've done work for him. We, Noisy Little Monkey, has worked for his business, and he still was saying, I've no idea what it is that you do. How do you explain to your friends what you do?
Carrie Rose (02:29):
God, to be honest, it depends who I'm trying to impress. If it's some boy, I'll say something fancy, something to do with Google. I usually just go down with, "you know, when you do advertising and you're basically trying to get people to buy from you, I do that, but websites. So I'm trying to get everybody to come to our website instead of competitors." I typically go down that and they'll be like, "but how do you do that?", and I'm like "so many things," but I was like, mainly what my bag is, is the PR side. So, creating stories to drive traffic to the website basically.
Jon Payne (03:02):
Yeah. Yeah. I like that. And, what I really like is the fact that basically you go, "we do this", and they say, "well how'd you do that?" And effectively it's much easier to, with a glass of wine in your hand, go "it's basically magic, I'll tell you about it one day if you need me to." Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. So just as a reminder, for those of you who have not been along before and for Carrie, because I'm sure she, as she is running Rise at Seven, which is an absolutely fantastic business and we'll talk a bit more about that in a second, doesn't have time to watch all of these things. Every episode of Business as Unusual, we go through a standard agenda, which is right now, businesses; so businesses like mine and businesses like you the viewer, businesses like your customer's if you're selling to them.
Jon Payne (03:51):
have got an uncertainty about money. Discretionary budgets have been all but killed. We're talking to people all the time who, well not all the time, but we had two in the last week where just little businesses we thought we were over the line with, now said that like budgets of a thousand pounds a month were needing to be signed off by Japan. And it's like, Oh, whoa, we didn't even know you were Japanese. Incred. So, and then there's that uncertainty thing. So we want to address the uncertainty in the market, I mean, we're in a pandemic. You know, and while we probably make relatively light of the uncertainty actually, you know, people are dying and we need to stay probably locked down for a bit longer. So we need to address that. And we'll talk about what's the opportunity coming out the other side or even right now because, we're seeing opportunities.
Jon Payne (04:42):
I was just saying to Carrie, Katie Roberts who's in charge of sales for Noisy Little Monkey just got a deal signed today, which is unusual for marketing companies, a decent size one. We're loving it. So yeah. That's what we're going to go through. Carrie and I have had a quick chat about it, so hopefully that's not come as too much surprise to her. Before we jump into it you might be wondering why Carrie's along talking about this stuff. She clearly is bright and bubbly and intelligent and clever. But I think it might give us a bit more colour if you tell us about your, frankly amazing agency, Carrie, which I'm tremendously jealous of. I remember when you set it up and I'll, I'll be a bit confessional here. You put out this tweet and I'm like that, "ah, this lovely girl who's 26 or something", 25, probably when you set out, right?
Jon Payne (05:34):
And I just immediately went to pretty girl, old white guy syndrome. How can she know what the hell she's doing? Fast forward like a year, I'm like that, "oh wow, I really need to work for Carrie one day." And now I'm just like, "oh, I'd like just to catch hold of her coat tails as she sails into the stratosphere." And I'm sure you think I'm blowing smoke up your ass a little bit. I'm not, I think you're great. And I think your business is great. And I've told you that loads of times. So hopefully that comes as no surprise. Tell us a bit about Rise at Seven, what it is you do, how it is you help businesses, that kind of stuff.
Carrie Rose (06:09):
Yeah, sure. So I started Rise at Seven, which is a creative SEO agency, back in June last year. Well I think it was like May, June...
Jon Payne (06:16):
Was it only June? I've gone through all of those emotions, jealousy, hatred and now a bit of jealousy and awe, in under a year.
Carrie Rose (06:28):
Well, like honestly it's been crazy because, I'm not gonna lie, we did our research and I don't know if you know this stat, but it's like 60% of startups fail in their first year. So, not only that statistic, we also have Brexit, and a global pandemic - it's not been easy for me!
Jon Payne (06:47):
Oh jeepers . So Noisy Little Monkey started in 2008 in the middle of a recession. And I always thought that makes us a bit more wuh wuh wuh. You're even more able to rope a dope and get around stuff because...
Carrie Rose (07:05):
I've definitely bulldozed through it. I think I've, I've really gone big and gone out and I've not quietened down since, but I feel like I've had to. But, just to give you an overview. Yes. So SEO agency, we're based in Sheffield, but we've actually opened a London office now. We did that in January. It was only small, with one member of staff, but now we're up to three. Yeah, three in London, which is amazing. So everything from technical SEO, to content, to digital PR, touching on a bit of social media as well. That's what we do. We've got 20 members of staff now and working with amazing clients like you can see on your screen now. Very, very lucky to be working with those brands. You're probably thinking, how the hell is she doing that in 10 months? I thought the exact same!
Carrie Rose (07:45):
I feel very, very lucky. But yeah, I guess what we've done is tried to kind of, what I said, this is what I said when I started the agency, I want to make SEO sexy. That's what I said. I was like, I want to make SEO sexy, I kind of go for these freedom ideas and kind of target brands like these that want something a bit different. So, we marketed ourselves as an agency that was different. By coming up with a bit 'out there' ideas and things like that and just different strategies. So yeah, that's us, 10 months later down the line still going, surviving, holding up.
Jon Payne (08:16):
I can't believe you're only 10 months old as a business. Amazing, absolutely amazing. And that was it. It was you saying, I want to make SEO sexy. That's what got my backup cause look (pointing to his face).
Carrie Rose (08:29):
Well I knew I pissed off a few people.
Jon Payne (08:34):
Well I was one of them and you did the right thing because it needed shaking up and you've done, you and Steven have done an absolutely amazing job. For those of you who haven't been along before. The reason Carrie and I are willing to talk on this is because we do this little advert at the beginning. So Rise at Seven, are a fantastic SEO agency, Noisy Little Monkey are a digital marketing and CRM agency, bit of SEO, bit of HubSpot, bit of sales training. So yeah. That's us. That's enough about Noisy Little Monkey, cause you've probably been before and frankly I feel embarrassed, constantly harping on about how wonderful we are. So, what I'm trying to do is find a poll where you can tell us about you. So, I'm launching a poll.
Jon Payne (09:24):
I'm going to put it on your screen. Carrie, you don't have to vote, but you'll be able to see what the questions are I'm asking. So guys, if you could look at your screen... and just look at your screen, see, I can tell you're already all looking at your emails. But if you could look at your screen and hopefully you can see a poll on your screen. Claire, tell me if you can't see it. Claire is the moderator in the chat. Brilliant. There's some people. So, what we're asking Carrie is how big is the company that people work for? What most describes their role? What describes their level of seniority, and what's their relationship with SEO? And the reason we are asking those questions, and thank you so much everybody for voting, is so that Carrie and I can modify our conversation to fit the answers that you are putting in that poll.
Jon Payne (10:16):
I'm going to leave it open for a bit longer so we get a bit more of that. While I tell you, if you've already filled the poll in, about a couple of things that Noisy Little Money have got going on at the minute. One is we've got loads of free resources on our website, the team at Noisy Little Monkey created a lot of free resources that can... Sorry Jules, there is no inbetween between expert and beginner on SEO. SEOs in my opinion are like drag racer engines. They're either idling or going a million miles an hour. No, sorry. We should have one between that. But yeah, free resources for marketers and business owners and salespeople, come along, grab those from Noisy Little Monkey at the link you can see on your screen. The other thing that we're doing is we're a HubSpot diamond partner.
Jon Payne (11:02):
We've created an exclusive deal for HubSpot where we will onboard you for free for 90 days because money, uncertainty, right? That's a real problem. Hey, there's an opportunity there as well to get ahead of your competitors. We'll do it free for 90 days because my wife helped me found this business. In fact, she's a co-founder. That's not why it works. She's a co founder and she's made us profitable. Right. So I'm gonna end polling, so... we have, primarily, Carrie, just to let you know, we have a few people who are between jobs right now and there's absolutely no shame in that. And we're glad to have you along, thanks for coming. We have, mainly the, the largest group is either small businesses, nought to five people. Nought. That would be a silly thing. One to five people I suppose.
Jon Payne (11:56):
And then between 11 and a hundred people, not so many. Wow, that's weird. In the last few, we've had quite a lot of people coming from really big businesses, but this is a bit more medium-sized enterprises. Welcome guys. That's what we like. Primarily people are in marketing or PR. And they are mainly managers, with a little bit of execs. Got some people in the house who worked for agencies. And we're delighted to have you along as well. Carrie and I, when we first spoke about doing this call, were talking about how this is an industry where people really love to share their knowledge and share it between agencies. And in fact, I'm in a WhatsApp group with Carrie's business partner, Steven, and we share loads of ideas about running an SEO and a technical agency all the time.
Jon Payne (12:47):
So, this is sort of, this is why this works because we love sharing ideas. Carrie is perhaps even more passionate about sharing ideas than I am, which I like. And then, primarily, people are describing themselves as a beginner in SEO. We've got 25% of people are experts. Most people are beginners. No one, no one doesn't understand what SEO, which is great, but 8% of people, and I love this, are still the sort of people who are getting reports sent to them that they don't understand? I see that all the time. So before we jump into what we can be doing, let's look at a bit of context. And Carrie, I'll be really interested in your feedback on this, particularly the second one, which I think was the one that you were tweeting about earlier in the week.
Jon Payne (13:38):
But this is a study done, end of April, by a chap called Brian Dean from Backlinko who are an SEO software kind of business and their study of about 11.8 million domains. Yeah. So the authoritative domains tend to rank higher in Google search results. Now, to me, an authoritative domain, given that we've got so many beginner SEOs is on the call, an authoritative domain is one that has a, I would suggest, Carrie, I'd be interested to see what you think a trusted sorry, a varied backlink profile. That's relative, that's clean. So not from porn sites and gambling sites and all of that kind of stuff, particularly if you're not in porn or gambling. And, from ideally, from a number of them and from some authoritative sites like trusted domains and companies that you might've heard of. BBC, Channel Four, for example, although those are kind of the pinnacle. Down lower, you've got kind of, well and Daily Mail, but then you've kind of got, ones you don't understand. How would you describe an authoritative domain, Carrie? Does that make sense?
Carrie Rose (14:52):
Yeah that makes sense to me, very very similar. I think I've actually seen quite a few people debate this, which is good. I like a debate if I'm completely honest, on social. I don't, I'm not too fond of the trolls, the trolls aren't too great. I've learned to love them, but there's been a lot of debate going on with this, but I think the overall gist basically is, this is always kind of been said and people know that, you know, if you have an authority domain linking to you and then you're going to rank higher. The only kind of, I guess, caveat on that one is every single website is different. So you could be more competitive in car insurance than you are in, you know, selling hot tubs as an example. Everything's different and not to follow everything, but yeah, I mirror exactly what you just said.
Jon Payne (15:36):
Cool, cool. Phew. Thank God.
Carrie Rose (15:42):
I could talk about it for about an hour, but...
Jon Payne (15:43):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. If it was just you and I on the call, I think this next one we could just, we could be here for ages, which I really love. I love this stat. It does kind of lend itself to all sorts of misinterpretation, I believe. But pages with more backlinks tend to rank higher than those pages with fewer backlinks. What do you say to that, Ms. Rose?
Carrie Rose (16:07):
It's like my favourite, favourite debate. So it kind of goes like quality versus quantity debate. So I guess in PR we're all about quality. You know, you want to get links from the likes of BBC or Daily Mail or Forbes, the ones with the higher authority, rather than getting a hundred links from different websites that are maybe kind of spam or international porn sites, this is basically, not necessarily going into the details of, of quality here. So this is basically saying the more links the better. This is probably one of the stats that caused a lot of debate on Twitter. Maybe they threw it in there for debate. To create that.
Jon Payne (16:44):
Carrie Rose (16:47):
But, one thing that I guess I would argue or at least provide some sort of advice on this one, is again, every single website is different. Every single keyword is different. So say if you're trying to rank for extremely competitive keywords, you more than likely will need a lot more backlinks to that page. But then there may be some keywords that are not as competitive and you might only need a handful. There's a couple of things that I've done recently where I've built maybe four links to that section of the website and it started to rank in the top three. So it just needed a handful of links. So I think again, yeah, this is one of the most debatable, but I think quantity is a thing. I don't think people should ignore it. I think you know, the more links the better, but it all depends on competition of keywords and things like that. But definitely quality should have been a focus on this one.
Jon Payne (17:35):
Yeah. Yeah. Agreed, agreed. Wow this never happens. SEOs agreeing on a backlink explanation. Yeah, agreed. So wholeheartedly, it is. And for me quality trumps quantity but you always want quantity, right? Like not coming from dog shit websites. They're coming from okay websites, great, but you still need, and this is why I'm so delighted to have you on this call. You still need those quality ones to make an impact in pretty much any industry you can't get by with just, you know, 15 links from your mate's window glazing website.
Carrie Rose (18:11):
Exactly. One way that I always put it is, if you got a link from the Telegraph, that's basically like saying the Telegraph recommends your business and if the Telegraph is giving you another link and another link and another link, because your content is so good that they're linking to it on an ongoing basis, that's basically saying we really recommend this website. So to Google that's a stronger kind of message or signal to say, okay, even if it's repeated links on the same domain such as Telegraph, that's basically say this website is really, really good at what I'm linking to them for. So yeah, so this is often a debate as well. But yeah, I think not to ignore that sort of stuff as well.
Jon Payne (18:49):
Yeah, absolutely. Claire's just put in the chat. "That really is a great explanation". She's worked with me for like six years, and she's never had it that good. So here's the thing, we've got some beginners and some people who get some reports they don't understand on the call and apologies to the SEO experts, but you were here once as well, so you're going to be very patient I suspect with the question that I'm going to ask Carrie, which is, and believe me Carrie, if you get stuck, I'll start. I'll go get a whiteboard, we'll be fine. What is a link and we're really talking about backlinks, is that right?
Carrie Rose (19:25):
So, say if you are reading the Daily Mail and the Daily Mail are talking about, I don't know, car accidents in the UK going on the rise or something like that and they link to a study that was run by Go Compare and link is that kind of bluey colour, I think they usually are on publications like that, a bluey URL that points to a different website. You can click on it and it sends you there. What that link does is not only sends users to another website, but it passes values. The most easiest way I explain it to my mom, my friends, whoever is that it kind of passes points. It's Daily Mail saying, here, here's some points for being really good and creating that nice piece of content that I recommend. So the more links, the more points you get in in a really crap way of explaining it, but simple for people to understand.
Jon Payne (20:11):
That's, that's brilliant. We actually had someone raised their hand there, which was Fiona, I didn't catch your surname because I clicked a button and went, wow, someone raised their hand. I've not seen that before. We're all learning new stuff, every day is a school day particularly for this old dog. But yeah, so someone raised their hand, throw your question, any questions throw them in the chat? Claire from Noisy Little Monkey is on the call. She will throw them at me and Carrie if they slide by us. She claims to be ready and waiting, which is good because when I spoke to her this morning, she was still in her pyjamas. Which was good, because while we were on the call with Carrie, she was putting her makeup on, and I had moved my breakfast out of camera shot.
Jon Payne (20:57):
Anyway. How'd you get the Telegraph, for example, to put a link to your page? Well, I think we're going to come to that, right? That's the whole deal Jules, we're gonna come to that kind of stuff in a sec. So keep throwing the questions in. We'll cover them as we come to them. I think the third stat that I want to talk about before we get onto, actually, we're going to have like 10 minutes per topic, perhaps, going forward, is that comprehensive content strongly correlates with higher rankings. So the first thing that we've got to do, because there's beginner SEOs in the room, is do the old correlation versus causation thing. So that my explanation of how correlation is not causation, is when the sun comes out. And if you remember when we were, weren't locked in our own houses and we could walk up and down the streets, but when the sun comes out, you see loads of people with ice creams just loads of them.
Jon Payne (21:58):
So that's kind of correlative, right? But if you get loads of people to have ice creams, it doesn't magically make the sun come out. So it doesn't cause one thing doesn't necessarily cause the other. So having comprehensive content won't immediately guarantee that your page will rank more highly than other people's with less content on it. But it strongly correlates that those that do, seem to often rank higher. And it's just, for me, it's always been a good habit to, if you want the page to rank and it's not just some sort of kind of halfway info page that you're writing, you want to seem as like an authority on the topic. You've got to be writing or creating enough content. So this is a video, but we'll have a transcript. There'll be loads and loads of stuff underneath here, which makes this relatively comprehensive content. Carrie, do you see this resonate? Does this resonate with you? Do you see this happen or is it...?
Carrie Rose (22:55):
So it's the exact same. So I was talking to Steven about this earlier. And we say, Google is always kind of, when it comes to links specifically Google's always, you know, links matter but not that much. And all the SEOs are like bullshit, Google, you're a liar. But when it comes to content, they've always said comprehensive content is the thing to set up. What that means is kind of not just answering one query. So if you're writing, maybe an answer to a question is really going into depth about that topic. It's making sure that every single answer that somebody could have or, you know, the second answer, the second question, and the third question, as long as a user reads your piece of content and know the answer, all it all in one space, because if someone has to click X because they haven't got the answer to that question, then Google's going to know, okay, that weren't useful for a user, so we won't rank it. So content is, is definitely important.
Jon Payne (23:50):
Yeah. Cool. Excellent. Excellent, excellent, excellent. So couple of questions. First one from Joyann. Hey, Joy. Is it good to link from, so let's say the Telegraph links to... They're saying that the best looking man over 50 in SEO is Jon Payne of Noisy Little Monkey and the word Jon Payne on the Telegraph website links to, noisylittlemonkey.com/aboutus/jonpayne. Is it a good idea from an SEO perspective from, for me to link back to the page on the Telegraph?
Carrie Rose (24:29):
No, so historically people used to do that. What they used to do is I'll do your backend deal if you link to me, I'll link to you. That was really kind of seen as a negative thing and a bad signal for Google. So you used to get penalised for that only in the masses. So obviously if you seem to do that quite a lot, get links from one from them and then linking back. It could look like that. However, if it's natural to link back then do, one thing that we actually do with quite often, so say if we have an expert covered on the Telegraph sharing some advice, we might include that advice on our website. Like, look, we've been featured in the Telegraph and that is a signal to Google that, okay, this expert is an authority, they've been featured in the Telegraph. So we'd do that maybe once or twice, but every single time Google will see that as... oh, it looks as if you kind of do it a bit of a back end deal here. If you link to me, I'll link to you. So yeah, I wouldn't do that every single time. Only when it's needed.
Jon Payne (25:24):
Only when the Telegraph describes you as, well, me in this case. They describe you as it, things will have taken an interesting turn in lockdown, you'll have aged greatly. So, and another one... and maybe you'll cover this. But let's see if you think we're going to cover it in the discussion, we'll just move on. But we've got a question saying in boring industries, which is also, I love boring industries because they normally hire small. Why do you love them?
Carrie Rose (25:56):
Because, they appreciate an amazing idea that's different. I started in PR and SEO on the small websites that, you know, sold garden tools and there's right, come up with an an idea that's going to get you on the Daily Mail. And that's what made me like, what's the word? Grind. I had to grind for that. And so, yeah, I liked them because you can deliver an amazing results for a small business. And God, they appreciate it more than big brands, and they get much more value.
Jon Payne (26:23):
Yeah. Yeah. So in a boring industry, for instance, employment law training, I don't know whether that's particularly related to PF who's put the question, but I suspect... do you have a go to for building links or is that something we might cover as we go through, or...
Carrie Rose (26:38):
I guess, I can touch on it. What do you mean, I guess I can't ask them, by a go to? There's different ways for employment law like.So the specific sites that I would target, there's a lot of employment journalists within the The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Guardian, things like that. But then there's even your niche size, your career size. There's Recruitment Today and publications like that, Business Insider even. So it's thinking of looking at what stories that they cover, and then what value you can add, especially now. So like I saw an employment brand recently, they had data, you know, what sort of jobs were on the market right now. And there was, you know, X percent was in finance. While X percent was in digital, or whatever. And they could show what industries were thriving over the ones that weren't. And that was a story in itself by using their own data. So yeah, it's understanding that really.
Jon Payne (27:31):
Yeah. Yeah. So there isn't really a go to is there? It's being creative, I guess.
Carrie Rose (27:36):
Yeah, there's not really a go to.
Jon Payne (27:38):
Cool. Okay. So let's talk about money. And I think this is going to be interesting because, just because of some of the stuff you and I discussed this morning, but you know. So what sort of assets and investment do we need to make a big splash with a digital PR campaign? It's obviously, I'm playing devil's advocate. Obviously, I need a huge PR agency. I need a photo a photographer from BA Photo call. I need all of that shit, right?
Carrie Rose (28:08):
No. So you don't need any of that. So one thing that I really, really share, as long as you create a good story, you don't need anything. To get the links, it's making sure that you have something on your side. So if you have a blog, a content hub, a guide section, make sure you get content on the site that, that people could link to and just create something that's newsworthy. It's not that difficult to spend some time going through the media and understanding what sort of stories that they're covering. A good tip that I can give you, and one thing that I looked at myself, is I went on Google when all this started kicking off and I just typed in "how to", and then clicked on news in the last week. And then you could see the amount of stories "how to" was getting picked up, and The Sun was covering "how to make your own McDonald's at home" or "how to spruce up your CV".
Carrie Rose (28:59):
They're looking for advice, of how to spruce up your CV or how to... So you could literally get inspiration. I actually wrote a status on my Twitter and LinkedIn about this and I kind of listed all these how to, what people are clearly writing about on national paper and they're looking for content from you guys, from experts and data, anything like that. So we did that. So one of our clients, although it sounds like they've got a big budget, but you've probably seen them in the news for going into administration this week was Cath Kidston. Cath Kidston is one of our clients. We're still working with them despite everything that's going on. And one thing that we created was "how to", it was at Easter, how to make your own Easter eggs at home. We created just a blog post of five steps. We just took some pictures of how to make them, put them on our blog. And emailed a journalist at several publications, and we landed on the Daily Mail, I think it was on Hello magazine and a couple of others. So simplicity, like we didn't spend much time doing that. Don't tell Cath Kidston that, but we didn't. But it was the most simplest campaign and these are content that can get links and it's easy for you guys do the same. So yeah. You don't need anything big and creative.
Jon Payne (30:12):
And a proper brand isn't paying for your time, Carrie, they're paying for your creativity and brilliance.
Carrie Rose (30:17):
They're paying for all the years. It took me to learn to be this girl.
Jon Payne (30:20):
Yes. I think I want to pick up on something there, which is you say, because I think this is just, I was so delighted when you said it and I just want to check that I'm hearing you right. When the lockdown started or the pandemic started, you went to Google and you typed in "how to" and then clicked on the news stories.
Carrie Rose (30:44):
Yeah. And then I selected on Google, you can select in the past week and it just shows you every single news story that's hit the headlines. And usually Google pulls through the most authority of media. So Metro, The Sun, or Express or Daily Star. And they could see every single story that, and I don't know if you can go on Google trends, it's a free tool. I typed in "how to" on that and you could see that how to content was on the rise. So I just honestly, I think I freshed out about 20 "how to" stories.
Carrie Rose (31:14):
So there's one I actually tweeted about this morning and I created a blog post of "how to see the UK", I think it was like 14 UK attractions from the comfort of your sofa. So obviously you can't go out and explore the like Buckingham Palace, or anything like that right now. But when I did some research, there's free virtual tours online and YouTube videos, things like that. So I just created a blog post of 14 ways to see all of these UK attractions linking to the 360 videos or YouTube or whatever it was and then pushed that to press and we got... to be honest, that went insane. But I think that was one of our first pieces that went live during this pandemic and it just kind of caught the attention. We landed on like Lonely Planet and they linked to us through that. There was like Express and a couple of others. But yeah, it did really, really well. But that's what I mean by very, very simple stories can pick up on links, and it's using what you guys know, you've started a business or your clients have got a business with experts in what they do, use them.
Jon Payne (32:20):
Yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant.
Claire Dibben (32:22):
Sorry to interrupt, we've had a question in the chat from Angharad, which, related to that, was how do you contact those papers? Carrie, do you have like the email addresses of specific journalists? Do you have like a little black book that you've built up? If you were starting from scratch, how would you go about doing that?
Carrie Rose (32:42):
Mainly email them, to get their email address is going to be difficult. So because of GDPR and stuff, a lot of email addresses from journalists are hidden behind maybe a tool. So there's a couple of tools to look into. Gorkana is massive and it's expensive. It's probably the best I would say in the world. So if you've got money, then have a look into it. But if you haven't got as much money, maybe look at things like Roxhill, or a news tip and they will give you for maybe a small fee or even just, they will give you those email addresses, but it's understanding who is going to cover this, because obviously I don't just email like firstname.lastname@example.org I will look at who covers this sort of topics, maybe a travel journalist and then I'll find their name, find their email address and then email them like, hi, I've got a story.
Carrie Rose (33:31):
I think you might, like I did this research. I've actually done a blog post on how I email them, just typing on Google after you're finished with this to type in Carrie Rose, Brighton SEO, and I think the blog post comes up, and it's got literally screenshots of how I email journalists, you know, how I write it, et cetera. So that should help you guys. But yeah, email is the best way and using tools to hunt their email addresses down. But if you can't get access to tools, a lot of journalists do have their email addresses within their Twitter bios. So it means being a hunter, it means doing some digging, but it's worth it.
Jon Payne (34:09):
Brilliant answer. Brilliant answer. We've got some other questions that we'll come to. Which are actually better than the ones I've got written down. So we can definitely come to those. The thing I really like is so far, apart from when we talked about how to get journalists emails and then you said actually most of them have got them on Twitter, just find out, find a byline, find their Twitter account, find their LinkedIn account, hustle.
Carrie Rose (34:37):
So that's why my job isn't that easy. You've got to hustle.
Jon Payne (34:41):
Exactly. but, but, but none of those tools cost money. Right? You got Google trends, you used Google and then you're using free tools or free platforms and some hustle, some sweat.
Carrie Rose (34:57):
Like even if you don't do that, one thing that I always advise people to do is test it out. So I couldn't find a Daily Mail journalist the other day. Their email address weren't on any of the tools that I used. They weren't on twitter or anything like that. So do you know what? I had to look online and I found another person's email and it was just, you know, email@example.com Just try that. So I typed their name like Tom, I dunno, Smith or whatever, @dailymail.com to see if it worked. It went through, and I was like oh I got it right! So I just guessed.
Jon Payne (35:25):
Yeah, I love it when that happens!
New Speaker (35:25):
So it's usually just firstname.lastname@dailymail or wherever it is, and then.com. It's nearly always that sort of sequence.
Jon Payne (35:38):
Yeah, find someone similar and then make then guess. Absolutely, brilliant and Angharad has in fact, put the link to your blog about your Brighton SEO talk in the chat. So that's brilliant. I've got a couple of quick ones. What's the etiquette of sending something to more than one publication? Carrie?
Carrie Rose (35:59):
What I usually do is email one person at one publication. So, for those that don't know, within a publication you might even be seeing like 30, 40 people that work there. Only email once to begin with. And then chase them up two days later. If they still don't open your email or respond, try someone else. I do, all the time. I've even emailed four or five people in a week once, just because I know maybe two of them kind of aren't working this week, or two of them might be interested, and they usually talk between each other, like sat next to each other. Well, right now they're not. Which probably works in our favour - they're not talking as much! So yeah, just stagger them. Don't hammer them all at once. Just try one for a couple of days. And if that doesn't work then try someone else. But, if you are going for two or three weeks and you've literally not got any reply, just give it a break and move onto the next publication.
Jon Payne (36:54):
Ok, so just bin it?
Carrie Rose (36:54):
Yeah. Oh yeah. A hundred percent.
Jon Payne (36:58):
If no one's picking it up, leave it.
Carrie Rose (37:00):
Yeah. One thing that I would advise you to use, and I was going to mention it later on, but BuzzStream, if you're a freelancer, or if you kind of have got a limited budget. I'm sure Buzzstream is like, no joke I used it when I did freelance, I think it's like 25 quid a month or something like that. So it's not that expensive, but BuzzStream tracks all of your emails. There are other tools for this, but I know that it can create a lot of spam and stuff. So BuzzStream is the best in the industry, but it tracks all of your emails that you send to journalists. It banks all of their addresses, so you're not having to go find them all again. So it creates a bit of like a black book for you. It shows you whether they've opened it. So if I email a journalist, it literally goes like ping, they've opened your email - like, oh, nice! Or if they don't open it, then it's like, okay, I know they haven't seen it, so I can just try them again. That's really good just to see, especially if it goes ping, ping ping, you can see them opening it five or six times. That's usually because they're covering the story, and they're reading it to get the information. So it's quite addictive watching it there, but it's good.
Jon Payne (37:59):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Love it. Love it. We've got a couple more questions, but we'll move on to uncertainty and we'll catch them in there. Sophie Nightingale, anonymous attendee, how the hell did you get in? Amazing. And Joy, well actually Joy and Louis Gammon Phillips, beautiful name Louis, have got a similar question, so we'll come to that in uncertainty. And Jessica Pardot is recommending Streak, is another tool that she uses for monitoring Google mail. Thanks Jessica. Great, great tip. So we've covered black books. We've covered kind of hustling and all of that kind of stuff. Uncertain times. We've got you know, everything's crazy, Covid owns the space. How do we get permission from the boss to do something stupid or does the fact that we don't know when we're coming out of lockdown matter? I mean, how do we cope with this Carrie?
Carrie Rose (39:06):
Yeah. so it's interesting because to be completely honest my opinion or strategy has completely changed every week, I would say. So, when this all first kicked off, not going to lie, I remember writing a status about this on LinkedIn. I said, you know, think long term. Think about when this all comes back to normal, plan for then, because some people are going to go quiet, some brands are literally gonna not invest in marketing. And then when they come back kind of alive again, when the world starts ticking, they're going to go hard and you need to make sure that you're going hard, just as big as them. And I remember saying that, I remember saying like, you know, plan for then, but I got that wrong, at first that's because I didn't expect this to go on for that long.
Carrie Rose (39:47):
That's why. So then it changed, completely. So you do have to think short term and long term now. You have to think, okay, what can I get ready for next week? What can I get ready for the week after? We don't know when things are going to go live again. In terms of kind of getting out doors and people buying products again and getting into the high street, et cetera. So the best advice is, is think short and long. And it's draining, I'm drained. I'm absolutely drained. I was saying to Jon before, I was like, I feel as if I've got like 40 clients or something crazy and I said I feel as if I'm saving or like supporting 40 businesses right now as well as my own, and I'm just like, it's hard work. But yeah, I think the best thing I can advise, overall, so like a good example is the other day I was driving through my hometown near my mum's house and I saw this car garage, just as a small family run business and he does really well.
Carrie Rose (40:41):
I know, because he drives around in a nice Mercedes every single week. But all of his cars in his car garage, was full of dust. I was like, you haven't gone out and cleaned them. And I remember thinking straight away in my head, and all of the shutters were down. He has closed up. He has not done anything, he's probably not done any marketing, and he's not even cleaning the cars that he's going to start selling again in a couple of weeks', hopefully time, and that straight away kind of like puts fear in me because those businesses that are going on pause and resting, are going to be the ones that are going to struggle so much to get back on the wheel, really. I actually saw a LinkedIn status about it the other day there was like "run whilst your competitors are resting" and it's so true. Like, take advantage of the fact that a lot of brands are, they haven't got the money or they haven't got the time to kind of go big. So that's the way to say to your boss, do you want to stand out in a market that's actually gone quite quiet, it can go quiet depending on your industry. Travel is an example, probably gone very, very quiet unless it's negative news. But yeah, it's, it's keep going and remain positive and definitely run whilst whilst everyone's being silent. But it does require, you know, getting your boss on board. But, yeah.
Jon Payne (41:55):
Yeah, yeah. You know what that, so it's been a repeated motif in this. We've only done four episodes. Every one of them has done... what you know, the brands that come out of this well are the brands that need to try. Obviously if you're not in charge and it gets put into liquidation or whatever, then you've done your best. But actually, many of us, you know Alan Thorpe, when we had him on a couple of weeks ago was talking about, us people in marketing have to work hard because we're the people who are putting food on the table for the people who are shipping stuff or delivering the services without us, pushing now, when we come out of this, it's going to be the dirty car syndrome. No one's going to want our cars because they're covered in dust.
Carrie Rose (42:43):
Yeah, that's exactly it. There was a good, I wrote a good example on this as a note. There was this farmer that I follow on Facebook. He had like what, 200 followers or something, and he's now got over a hundred thousand. What he did is, I don't know if you know but it's lambing season right now, so all the sheep are lambing and obviously people love to see that. So he did a Facebook live showing this baby lamb being born and then obviously he had like a hundred sheep giving birth to these lambs. So every single morning he does a Facebook live. He's got over a hundred thousand followers now, he's landed on the BBC, the local press. He didn't put any money behind it. It's just creating cool content because he's showing that his farm is still running, and he's got some nice story and nice content to show. He didn't put no budget or anything, but it just shows, I don't know, the first thing that people are going to do is, I don't know if he's got a farm shop, but we're going to go and see him because they want to go meet him, because he's now a famous person on Facebook.
Jon Payne (43:36):
Yeah. Yeah. Oh man, that's beautiful. And frankly waking up to a baby lamb. Quick aside, I have woken up with a lamb in the bed when I was a shepherd. We got our lambs to give birth outside of the normal period, because you can inject them with oestrogen and it makes them come into season a few months early, which means that your lambs get to the shops just before Easter. So you make all the money - great stuff. But we had a lamb born around Christmas time. It was really cold. It's mum wasn't very well, it needed to be kept warm and our heating had broken. So I slept with it in my bed for the first night of its life. And then my mum was telling all of her friends, yeah, my son is a shepherd. He sleeps with the sheep, and I'm like that, don't put it like that!
Jon Payne (44:29):
What I did was an altruistic thing, not yeah. Anyway. Brilliant. I that's, that's really good. We've got, so some of the questions we've got are, and maybe this plays to uncertainty in a different way, but one of the questions, we've got a few versions of is, do you ever pay to get published Carrie?
Carrie Rose (44:45):
Jon Payne (44:47):
Carrie Rose (44:49):
I can do it for free. It's all about creating that cool story. Yeah, never. Years ago I did. So, when I first worked for my first ever agency when I graduated, that's what we used to do is paid for links. But Google penalises you for that sort of stuff now, well I guess Google doesn't penalise you anymore, really, just ignores it. So you're spending money and it's not going to move the needle in any way. So yeah, I don't do that anymore, no. That was years and years ago, but no, we could just create stories that are interesting, resourceful, different, or fun, that journalists link to them and cover them for free.
Jon Payne (45:23):
Yeah. Brilliant. Excellent. I thought, given that your PR on this side and SEO on the other side that that must've been the answer. Cool. And we've got, so maybe this was covered by the other question, but we've had someone say, what about in the US typically, there's often you'll get journalist pushbacks by saying it's not their beat or they've already got staffers writing that stuff. So do you, I mean, it sounds to me like you just move on, pitch it to someone else, right?
Carrie Rose (45:54):
Yeah. You do. You just move on and pitch it to somebody else. Or try to find a different hook. One thing that I will say about the US, it is quite different over in the US, more and more stories are being Corona heavy, so they're more focusing on Corona led stories just because the numbers out there are extremely high. So any sort of fluffy content is not as much of a priority over in the US. The sort of things that they like to see though are survey data pieces that give something different that the journalists more than likely won't already be covering. So if you've got any sort of data that you can gather that journalists clearly haven't got, that you have, that works.
Jon Payne (46:30):
Cool. Excellent. Excellent, excellent. We've had a question about how to create a story from a different angle and then someone else's answered it in the chat with an idea for that specific business or that specific... Yeah, yeah, that specific business. So thanks for that, Nicola and Lily. If we get a chance we'll cover that in a bit more detail. We'll come to that. Let's move on to the opportunity. The good news. Well, frankly, you know what, Carrie Rose, this has all been good news. You are just magic. But there's opportunity, and this is funny with Sunjay last week it was all good news. He was talking about video and I couldn't find any bad news in it. Maybe it's the sort of people that I'm lucky to be surrounded by at the minute, ridiculously optimistic, but very tired.
Carrie Rose (47:19):
Yeah, I'm shattered!
Jon Payne (47:22):
You and me both. Ladies and gentlemen who are on this call if you'd have joined us like five minutes early, Carrie was terrified because we were just both bitching about how nackered we were and how difficult it is to run a business and do marketing right now. So, we are tired, but we are also hopefully remaining inspired. So, keeping on, keeping on! What's the opportunity? Is there one now that's particularly generated by covid? Actually, someone said in the questions are covid stories getting higher ranking? I suspect they probably are, but only because everybody's searching for it, and it's being covered. But, is there an opportunity now, that authentically and transparently we can use without being sort of hacks and ambulance chasers, or actually is it all about preparing for the future opportunity? Which do you think and how, how do we go about levering it?
Carrie Rose (48:16):
Bits of both. I know this obviously sounds kind of, this is a very, very brutal thing to say as a marketer, but there's opportunity in the fact that your competitors, or a lot of competitors will be quiet. Maybe they've died off, do you know what I mean, in terms of their businesses, so, or they haven't got the budgets to be able to do this. So there's the opportunity to kind of stand out and provide something different and kind of, I don't know, be the focus when it comes to your industry or expertise. But I guess the other sort of opportunities at the minute is one thing that we're seeing, we're monitoring everything from sales to press, et cetera. And, there's a bigger stanceor opportunity for product. So product PR is getting picked up so much more and paid. I see a lot of social ads for random products.
Carrie Rose (49:03):
So I don't know about you, but a couple of weeks ago I bought a, what do they call it? Where you put up... a projector, like project films. Yeah, I bought a projector the other day. People are buying some random shit. What's happening is, there's a lot of people at home, they're bored and they'll see an ad about some random shit, or whatever it is. And they're like "ah yeah, I really, want that". And they'll just buy it! Like I've bought all sorts of crap in the last couple of weeks, but that's helping us. So there's one client that I had as an example. They're actually a bit fun! They're in the sex industry, sex toys and we couldn't necessarily create fluffy content for them at the minute when it comes to getting links through PR, but what we did is we just PR'ed their products.
Carrie Rose (49:45):
So you know, we caught, we, we created like the lockdown love kit or something, and we put links to sex toys around how many people are buying sex toys right now. And we got links into those products and they started selling. I think we made around £12,000, just PR-ing these sex toy products. And then Missguided is an example. At first nobody was buying clothes. Why do you want clothes when you're sat in the house? You're not going anywhere, you're not going on nights out, you're not going on holiday. So we created a loungewear what was it? Lockdown loungewear, it's just like what to wear. We even created like a working-from-home-wear. So it was like smart top and then pants on the bottom, you know for like calls like this. So really I've just got a pair of pants on down there and then just a smart shirt! We made a product range for something like that.
Carrie Rose (50:36):
So, products is an opportunity and it's direct sales as well. So, although these links pass value, people click on these links and buy them. So we drove a shit ton of sales for these, you know, loads of joggers and things like that cause everybody wanted them, because they're sat at home. People have got money, like the government are paying out furlough pay and things like that. It's not as bad as the recession from years ago. There is help. So people are buying shit at the minute. So, I guess that's another opportunity really, is to use your PR skills to push random products in that sense.
Jon Payne (51:10):
And both of those campaigns are just fabulous and the misguided one is just brilliant. And it's so cool that you, cause normally you see that I think we in the non kind of, without our PR heads on, we see that and we go, oh well that's clever that the product team have come up with that. And it's so often in those businesses that are really pushing through that it's... I mean, I see it all the time, even in technical stuff, like when we're putting in new CRMs and new operating systems for the whole business. It's marketing that's driving it, because they need to get the cut through. They need to move forward. So that's really cool.
Carrie Rose (51:48):
And with the loungewear stuff, someone tweeted me, "Oh, you know, misguided clearly got a good budget to be able to do this". We didn't spend a pound. Those joggers already was on that website, you know, we just put it as if it was a loungewear for lockdown, like it was just the marketing message. They already existed on the website. It was just the, just the messaging.
Jon Payne (52:07):
So, so there, there is an opportunity now you've got to be creative. It might be difficult to get that for every business and so for those that, just to reiterate what you were saying, for those that perhaps there isn't something there, there isn't a high demand for or there isn't the budget for people to be able to buy it. Then actually it's about just keeping on, keeping on, making sure that the cars are clean. That's going to be stuck in my head that analogy!
Carrie Rose (52:33):
Yeah, the care are clean, and like the farmer guy like he just liked lambs and things like that. There is opportunity, more and more people are spending times on their phones, on their screen. And more people are reading the news. So they're just sat, scrolling through and they want inspiration. Give them inspiration! Maybe you've got, maybe you're doing some PR in a hotel or a holiday destination. People can't go on holiday, but do you know what they can't friggin' wait to! They want your inspiration. It doesn't mean you need to stop. It means you need to push even more because everyone's looking where to go, as soon as this ends. So it's keep on going really giving, remain positive.
Jon Payne (53:07):
Brilliant. Exactly. Exactly. I've just looked at the clock and we are really to time. It's like we rehearsed this. We've got a couple of unanswered questions. Just one, no, I think we've got one on answer the question, which is "would you run a campaign that had no relevance to a client and wouldn't generate click-throughs just to generate backlinks", for example, this person sees brainteasers a lot, but they are completely irrelevant to the client. Is that something, I mean, Is that something you'd advise? For me, it just seems like no, do something better that gets you more coverage and better links, right?
Carrie Rose (53:49):
Yeah, exactly. Relevance is a big thing. We actually won a big, big client recently because they used to work with an agency, an amazing agency and got thousands and thousands of authority links, but the content was just not relevant and they did not move the needle. I think they must have spent a hundreds of hundreds of thousands pounds with this agency and they did not move the needle because it weren't relevant. Relevance is massive right now. And also, one thing, and this is my theory and I swear it'll come true, but one thing that all of these studies don't take into consideration is clicks. How many people are clicking on those links? People might think Forbes is an authority link, but I've spoken about this before where I once built a link from Forbes to my client's website when I looked into Google analytics to see how many people clicked from Forbes to my website...three, three people clicked on that link. Whereas when I got a link from Manchester evening news, it drove 800 people. Google at the minute doesn't necessarily kind of count them. I guess historically people kind of say, you know, the more traffic et cetera. But yeah, I think engagement and social shares and stuff is going to be a big part of that. So, when you mention this relevant content and things that, creating content that people will click on, absolutely. Because that's going to make you stand out to the other agencies that can't do that.
Jon Payne (55:02):
Yeah. Brilliant. Excellent. you're, you're fairly active on social media, right? So I've just put your details up on the screen if you need to get in touch with Carrie, to carry on the conversation. She's on Twitter, she's on LinkedIn. But you could search for Rise at Seven, they appear. If you want to talk to me, if you don't have enough bald old white men in your life. I'm also on social media. I am not as good at this as Carrie. Next week we have Katie Roberts, the client development manager for Noisy Little Monkey who, selling today, is going to talk to us about how to sell when no one's buying. And how marketing and sales teams can work together to do that. In two weeks we've got Crystal Carter from Optic Solutions.
Jon Payne (55:50):
She's the senior digital strategist. She's going to be talking about lockdown content ideas for the win. It might be a slightly different title. If you enjoyed this, please go to register for the chat that me and Katie are having, or me and Crystal are having at the link you can see on your screen. And please, in future, go ahead and share us, and like us, and subscribe to stuff because this is really useful and I think people like you might benefit from it. If we didn't get a chance to answer your question, I apologize. We really appreciate you coming along, but more than anything we really appreciate the staggeringly wonderful Carrie Rose for joining us. If we could do applause, I'd asked to do applause. There's lots of nice comments going on in the chat, so we appreciate that. Carrie, thank you so much mate. I look forward to having a drink and arguing about backlinks and other authority shit with you when this is all over. Thanks mate. See you everyone. Bye bye. Bye bye. Saying bye for a long time cause I don't know how to end this. There it is. See ya Carrie.
Founder and Technical Director of Noisy Little Monkey, Jon blogs about SEO and digital marketing strategy.
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