Whether you’re having a strategy refresh, or are looking to try your hand at creating your first (or next) digital PR campaign, it’s essential to invest time in validating your ideas.
The ideation process comes differently to everyone, and there’s no right or wrong way of tackling it. You can spend time researching topics independently, or collaborate with your wider PR team in a brainstorming session. Whatever way you choose to ideate, we’ve created an idea validation process to help you determine whether your PR idea is worth developing.
What is idea validation?
Idea validation is the process of gathering data to determine whether an idea, in this case, a digital PR campaign, is worth producing. Although it’s impossible to know for certain whether a campaign is going to be a huge success, an idea should always be validated before investing time and resources into developing it to avoid any obstacles or delays.
During the initial stages of ideation, it’s common to have a shared document filled with notes, thoughts and rough ideas. However, only a small amount of those ideas will be worth executing into a fully-fledged campaign.
Similarly, it can also be easy to fall in love with an idea or hang onto the want of producing a campaign that in hindsight, may not have outreach potential. By introducing idea validation it exposes the campaign to realistic scrutiny and assesses its chances of succeeding by considering: competitor research, relevancy and the methodology.
How to validate your campaigns ideas
1. Research your topic
It’s unlikely that a campaign idea has never been explored or written about before, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value. A quick and easy way to find out is by searching for relevant keywords on Google. This way you can find out if your idea has been covered extensively, and when.
If the idea has been covered a lot, then can you top it? What new piece of data has since been released that you can add to your idea to improve it? This could be government data, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests or expert commentary. Find a way to spin that same story into a bigger and better news piece.
You can also use similarly published campaign ideas to your advantage. Using a tool such as Ahrefs, you can research whether the previous campaign was successful, how many backlinks it gained and from which domains. Take note and add those same journalists to your media list.
2. Ask your team and other people in the business
When you’re in love with a campaign idea it’s easy to be blindsided by whether it holds potential. Often, you can convince yourself it will work simply because you want it to. Instead, ask your team or experts on the topic within your company for their honest opinion.
Do they find it interesting? Would they click on the article if it popped up on their timeline? Can they pick it apart?
There’s also no need to feel rude or awkward when giving feedback to your colleagues or hearing the feedback. A journalist will only ask the same questions so better to tie up any loose ends now.
3. Determine its relevance
An important part of validating an idea is determining when is the most relevant time to produce and publish it. Think about why your idea is relevant now, or if it’s still going to be relevant at the time the campaign goes live.
Data-led campaigns such as those using public datasets tend to have a minimum annual update, others quarterly. If your campaign idea falls within this remit, then research when the last report was published and aim to produce your campaign the same week the report is updated. You may find that it could be worth waiting an extra month and producing this campaign later on down the line.
4. Write three headlines
A great way to validate your ideas is by identifying at least three headlines and angles, as well as publications that would be interested in covering your campaign. At Impression, we use an in-house ‘campaign map’ that helps us to structure and break down all possible angles for a campaign.
If you’re struggling to think of how your campaign idea can be stretched across verticals, then perhaps it’s better kept as a reactive.
5. Can you make it regional?
Although not essential, a campaign idea with regional scopes holds so much potential for extra coverage, especially when you can break the data down by postcode or local authority.
We conducted a study for National Scrap Car to find out where in the UK has the biggest car graveyards, determined by the scrap value of SORN cars. This campaign allowed us to create regional rankings by town and secured backlinks in a variety of regional publications including Belfast Live, Suffolk News and Lincolnshire Live.
Lastly, the most important step to consider when validating an idea is knowing where you’re sourcing your methodology from. A data-led campaign is only as strong as its methodology, so do your research and explore every possible way you can make your idea happen.
Consider the resources available to you in particular if you need web-scraping. Not all websites can be easily scraped, whilst others are black-listed. Speak to the relevant data analyst in your team if you’re planning on seeking support for producing the campaign. If you don’t have a data analyst in your team, here are a few neat, quick data analysis tips you can use for your next data-driven campaign.
Methodology doesn’t stop at data-led campaigns either. For visual campaigns, speak to your designers to find out more about their capabilities, as well as what visuals they think would best suit your company’s tone of voice.
Putting together a strong methodology is the most time-consuming part of validating an idea, but once you’ve nailed it down it’s smooth sailing for the production of your campaign.
- There’s no right or wrong way to ideate, and everybody does it differently.
- Always run your campaign ideas through a validation process to help determine whether it’s worth developing.
- Idea validation exposes it to the practicality of the real world and helps avoid any scrutiny or questions that a journalist may ask later on.
- Identify three headlines and publications that your campaign will be relevant for.
- Having a strong methodology is the most important part of validating an idea.
Want to bring your next creative campaign to life and drive high-quality backlinks to your site? Get in touch with our digital PR team for more details. For additional tips and advice on how you can get the most out of your digital PR, check out our blogs.