Are construction publications link policies ruining online PR campaigns?

I’m always stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to trying to get links included in our client online PR strategies. Trying to keep the SEO guys happy and not irritate the web editors is a juggling act – one that I’m sure many PR’s within the construction industry are struggling with at the moment too.

Essentially, all I’m after is a unique URL within a news item or feature where readers can find out more information about the story. Sometimes it’s a more in-depth blog post, or a bank of case study images; sometimes it’s a video, or even a microsite/forum hosting an industry debate. We always make certain that we create valuable content, so it’s not like we’re chasing links to homepages or sales enquiry forms. Think of it as a half-way house as the journey towards the social media news releases picks up speed.

It’s beneficial to measurement for our clients, and ultimately to the website running the coverage. For example, if we see that lots of their readers have clicked our link and watched the video or read the blog post, we will undoubtedly value the publication higher and push more editorial content their way. At the end of the day if we can measure the success of our coverage in this precise, accurate way, we’re going to prefer using these outlets in the future.

I’ve started to collect comments and opinions from journalists and web editors working within the construction industry, I’m hoping that the more we understand about why some sites allow links, but others flatly refuse, the better we can work with our journalist friends.

Stephen Powney, online editor, TTJ

“Our general policy is not to include a website or telephone number, as in most cases the company will want it included for marketing purposes, which is something they should really use the medium of advertising to do.

“The normal exception is when we’ve done a news or feature piece including details about the launch of a new website or where there is a specific appeal – such as a cross industry initiative. I think some companies out there think we are a free marketing service!”

Matt Downs, editor, Unity Media titles RCI and Your Build

“We always use the web addresses where possible with articles and releases, our view is that the reader expects to be able to access information about clients as soon as possible, and the first port of call is normally websites.

“We now publish RCI Digital which takes this a stage further and is emailed out to our circulation a few days before the hard copy lands on desks and readers can link through to websites on articles, adverts, product pieces etc where applicable. This is working really well for us.”

Anonymous, editor, within the construction industry

“Quite frankly it just irritates me, PR’s ask more and more for links and I tend to just switch off when I see their names appearing in my inbox now. It’s not our job to provide links to website and help generate sales leads or traffic or whatever it is they ultimately want. It’s our job to create valuable editorial with true integrity. We won’t be allowing links as long as I’m in this place. If PR’s want my advice, they should stop asking journalists for links  as it compromises their reputation as independent… and other magazines should stop including them – if we took a unanimous viewpoint and then all this nonsense will stop.”

Anonymous, Building 4 Education

“As a rule, we won’t mention products, services or brand names within pure editorial. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but we certainly would never include a link or URL within something that wasn’t paid for. If you want a brand name check and a URL, that’s advertising to us and you have to pay for it. End of discussion.”

Hannah Krol, assistant editor, Building Products

“To be honest we don’t really have a policy on linking, but yes I can include a link if PR’s ask me – usually I would put it at the end reading ‘For more information..’ for example. I don’t understand why journalists wouldn’t include a link if asked.  If your readers are interested in the story they will only leave your website and use Google to find out more information anyway!”

Obtaining a link is often reflected by the strength of a relationship between the the editor and the marketer/copywriter. At Pauley Creative we look at each channel, set objectives for each channel and then integrate it into the overall strategy (how can online PR help with channel X, Y and Z?) and this is where integrating online PR comes together with both SEO and Social Media.

Do publications, journalists and editors understand the objectives of a digital marketing campaign or better yet what this online PR strategy is trying to achieve? Will providing links to further related content such as videos, blogs and images help retain readers and loyalty?

If you’ve got some comments to add to the discussion, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – I’d love to get a good profile of today’s industry opinions.

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

One Response to “Are construction publications link policies ruining online PR campaigns?”

  1. Ann Bird, journalist

    Web articles have a different mechanic to the printed word. A key point is online readers expect to interact, they’re not passive like print readers and therefore links are sometimes appropriate and don’t necessarily mean editorial independence is compromised.
    Great discussion Helen!


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