Identifying strong keywords and ensuring they appear in all the relevant places is an integral part of SEO. But unless they’re backed up by great content, they’re not going to amount to much.
To come up with great content, you need to come up with solid angles. While not always easy, it’s certainly doable. Whether you’re in B2B PR, digital marketing, or somewhere in between, you need to make yourself an expert in your client’s sector and use every possible resource at your disposal in order to find newsworthy hooks.
One SEO tactic that works especially well is going straight to the horse’s mouth. Having an editorial brainstorm with a new client is probably one of the smartest and most productive ways to kick off your SEO campaign and all but guarantee its success.
Note: this approach works just as well if you’re in need of angles and ideas for your own business. Just run the brainstorm session with your staff. If you’re a one-man band, you could always rope your friends in with the promise of pizza.
Why run an editorial brainstorm at the beginning of your relationship?
Your new client is excited about getting started and this means two good things. Firstly, it’s a unique opportunity for you and your team to get all the key players together in the same room and pick their brains.
Secondly, it’s the perfect time to nip the possibility of buyer’s remorse in the bud by demonstrating to the client’s senior management that you’re the right hire. You probably won’t have this chance again – make the most of it.
SEO Tactic: Angles, angles, angles
Impressing your new client is important, but don’t go overboard. Remember, you won the pitch so they’re already committed. The main reason for hosting an editorial brainstorm is to mine for angles and ideas.
What you’re after here are interesting stories, unique topics (or a unique take on a topic), areas of thought leadership, and so on. Essentially, anything you can use for future pitching to influencers.
You’ll need to have a second internal brainstorm session where these stories get planned into a content calendar as part of your overall strategy. You’ll want to get those ideas down while they’re still fresh in your mind, so don’t wait too long to do this.
Get your team up to speed
This is a great way to educate your team. If they’re attuned to your new client’s industry and subject matter they’ll be much more likely to spot potential link opportunities in the future. It’s also particularly useful in terms of building lasting relationships.
Getting to know the client as a person rather than just a brand facilitates a vested interest, which means your team will be far more inclined to go the extra mile when the need arises (and it invariably will).
Tips for running an editorial brainstorm
Start by doing extensive background research on your new client. You need to find out as much as you possibly can about them before you meet. These are the kinds of questions you need to be answering:
- What do they sell?
- Who do they sell it to?
- What’s been written about it?
- What does their website say they do?
- Who are you meeting with?
- What are the senior teams’ backgrounds?
- What’s going on in their industry?
- Which associations are they a part of?
The list goes on. Feel free to add whatever else you think might be of value to you.
If you don’t do proper background research, you won’t be able to explore interesting avenues and generate the best angles. As you do your research, you should be jotting down questions for your client. Get at least one other team member to do this and then cross reference your results and order them logically. Allow about two hours for this.
Someone should be taking notes (usually a junior person, just make sure their note-taking capabilities are reliable) and someone should be leading the conversation. If you’re a one-man band download a Dictaphone app and then pay someone on People Per Hour to transcribe the conversation after the fact. You can’t lead and take notes, so don’t even try.
Take a newshound
The purpose of this session is to generate interesting topics. But what if you don’t know what an interesting topic is? Well then hire someone who does, like a freelance journalist. They’re used to pitching ideas to editors they work with, so they’ll have a nose for sniffing out angles. Plus, they lend gravitas.
Set the scene
Before you kick the session off, take a minute to quickly and clearly explain to everyone how it’ll work (you leading them through a series of questions), how long it’ll take (we typically budget 2-3 hours), and finally, what you intend to get out of it (lots and lots of unique angles).
This is also a good time to tell them that you may have to interrupt them occasionally to pursue interesting trains of thought based on what they say. Explain that it’s a necessary part of the process and apologise in advance.
Don’t be shy or stand on ceremony. Some of the best angles we’ve developed with clients have been based on throwaway comments made by members of senior teams. And the only reason we got them was because we interrupted the conversation.
Manage the session
Put your watch on the table to ensure that timing stays front of mind. You’d be surprised how quickly two or three hours can fly by when the ideas are flowing.
Schedule a ten-minute break midway to give everyone a breather and enjoy a little sustenance (brainstorming is thirsty, hungry work). Here’s where you haul out the fruit, biscuits, cold drinks and coffee you ordered earlier.
If possible, choose a well-ventilated room with natural light. This will go a long way to keeping energy levels up and moods elevated. We’ve all had our fair share of meetings in dank, stuffy holes in the wall. It’s not pleasant.
If you don’t have somewhere suitable at your disposal, then hire a venue for half a day. Shared work spaces often have rooms available for exactly this sort of thing.
Most importantly, get through the questions. You’ll struggle to get this much focused face time with the whole senior team again, so make sure you get all the information you need.
Word of advice: if you’ve got questions you feel are more important than others, then get them in during the first half of the session, when everyone is feeling fresh and enthusiasm is high.
There you have it. Get this SEO tactic right and you’ll have at least 12 months’ worth of great link building angles and a long list of keywords to boot!
Having an editorial brainstorm with a new client is probably one of the smartest and most productive ways we’ve come up with for running a successful SEO campaign.
Is brainstorming for new ideas something you do on a regular basis?
Have you ever thought of it as an SEO tactic?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below, I’m always keen to hear what others are up to.
Luke Budka is Director at TopLine Comms a video, SEO and integrated communications consultancy with an international client base. He’s also fluent in Penguin, Panda and Screaming Frog. Someone has to be and, as it turns out, he’s rather good.
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