Save your budget: Digital PR & Content Marketing campaigns for less

September 18th, 2018

Go big or go home Go cheap.

I’m from Yorkshire and, in case you weren’t already aware, us Yorkshire folk are known for being cheap. So much so that this is literally the Wikipedia description of the Culture of Yorkshire:

Unsurprisingly this ‘tightness with money’ also often comes through in my professional life, meaning I’m always looking for ways to make campaigns cheaper, but without compromising on quality.

I spoke at Learn Inbound last week about making campaigns work harder, and half of that presentation centred around saving money when creating campaigns so I thought I’d also write these tips up. The second half was around getting more results which I’ll probably write up later.

Use free data

I cringe when I look back at the amount of money I’ve spent acquiring data (through surveys and other means) when there’s such a vast amount of data out there. I don’t think I’m the only one either – in my Learn Inbound presentation I showed some examples and offered up a list of free data sources I’ve collated and I’ve received A LOT of requests for the list of data sources (this makes me feel better!)

There’s a wealth of data sources we can use, public data is one of the most readily available free sources but there’s also a lot of other sources.

Here’s some of my fav data sources to showcase the variety:

  • Office for National Statistics (ONS) – ‘The UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognised national statistical institute of the UK’ – this is like a rabbit hole for me that I get lost down every time I visit. So. Much. Data.
  • WhatDoTheyKnow – ‘Make a request for information to a UK public authority: by law, they have to respond’ – easy platform to make Freedom of Information (FOI) request to public bodies in the UK. Also asktheEU for European version.
  • IMDb Datasets – ‘Subsets of IMDb data are available for access to customers for personal and non-commercial use’ – access to IMDb’s wealth of data on films and TV shows.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) – ‘WHO’s gateway to health-related statistics for more than 1000 indicators for its 194 Member States’ – health stats across the world
  • Amazon AWS Datasets – ‘This registry exists to help people discover and share datasets that are available via AWS resources’ – so much varied data including ‘A collection of Earth science datasets maintained by NASA, including climate change projections and satellite images of the Earth’s surface’ here

*Do just check with each data set the permissions for using it*

Nowadays I just Google the data I want to see if its out there already, sometimes I’ll then find this through a third party and may have to pay a small license fee for the data but this is generally cheaper than gathering it myself.

Use design tools

Stop obsessing over big, shiny things – you are not a magpie!

Far too often we immediately go down the route of building a big interactive campaign thinking that it will automatically translate to more links/coverage/whatever you’re aiming for. The problem is that’s not a default of building something cool, so you may end up wasting a lot of time and money.

Paddy Moogan also spoke at Learn Inbound and delivered a great presentation which looked at the average amount of coverage gained from interactives vs other formats:

Although interactives do deliver more coverage for them, the gap between interactive and static isn’t actually that high and considering the cost difference between the two, it makes sense to not always default to big interactive.

I’ve recently discovered some really cool tools that enable me to create my own graphics with an element of interactivity (hovers etc) but without the need for a designer or developer. Now I’m not saying that we’ll just use these for all future campaigns, but it does allow us to save money on the campaigns that don’t need a big interactive piece to accompany them.

Here’s an example of one of my favourite discoveries Infogram to show how easy it is (like literally if I can do it, anyone can!)

There’s a bunch of other similar tools I’ve seen but haven’t got round to trying yet – Outgrow, Piktochart and Mapme being a few.

Plan newsjacking opps

Once you’ve launched your campaign, got all the coverage/links you think you can and have reported don’t just stop there. Plan a roadmap of upcoming ‘events’ that you can still target with your campaign.

For example, we recently launched this campaign for 247meeting looking at security and privacy in the workplace. In it we have a section on GDPR and one on data breaches and hacks, so each time these topics are in the news we have an opportunity to newsjack.

We use Buzzsumo’s Trending feature to look for newsjacking opportunities every morning.

We could also plan for these, so say we’d done a campaign around mental health, there’s a bunch of mental health related ‘days’ every year that we can use to newsjack with the campaign as well.

Refresh old campaigns

Again, once a campaign has finished many people just forget about it and move onto the next one. But often if a campaign performed really well once it could do the same again. Especially if your campaign involves data, think about whether that data might change in six months, a year later, or ten.

A successful campaign from my time at my last agency was a simple survey that we re-ran every 6 months to see how people’s opinions on their community changed. This was visualised in a map where we just had to update the data each time and it could go out again. This provides a great return on the up-front cost of creating the interactive map.

Think about any previous companies you’ve run/your client has run and whether they’d be worth a refresh to go out with again, it’s much cheaper than creating a whole new campaign every time.


Saving money isn’t the only benefit from the above tips, utilising design tools and not planning interactive campaigns all the time will require less developer resource. Because as much as I love my developer friends, trying to get something pushed through client development teams has without doubt been one of the biggest hurdles/delays of any campaign I’ve run!

This approach also has the benefit of slightly less pressure and means you can test campaigns you aren’t 100% sure on. If you invest a huge budget and resource into a campaign you better be sure you’re delivering some big results to match. But if you’ve scaled back the budget and time investment you can experiment more and there’s less pressure to deliver huge numbers of links/coverage.

Laura Crimmons, Founder, Silverthorn Agency

  Share: Posted in CMA Blog