June 12, 2024 |

Reacting to the news, trends or events with well-timed and quality content can keep you relevant and your audience engaged. 

In the last couple of years, reactive PR has emerged as a top tactic of digital PR professionals, where brands draw from breaking news stories, pop culture events such as Met Gala, or viral TikTok trends as a way to get media coverage and authentic backlinks. 

Below we breakdown what reactive PR is, the difference between proactive and reactive PR, and how to use it for link building.

What is Reactive PR?

Reactive PR is essentially piggybacking off breaking news or viral trends to get a portion of the attention. 

This tactic sees brands quickly responding to news, events or trends in a bid to improve media coverage or get backlinks. This may take the form of expert commentary, creating thought leadership articles and blogs on the topic to give journalists or high-traffic websites a page to link to. 

When done well, reactive PR can drive your link building and SEO efforts, while positioning you as an expert and keeping your brand relevant. For example, recipe box delivery service, HelloFresh, noticed custard toast videos getting traction on TikTok – it created a blog sharing the top recipes resulting in coverage and links from esteemed magazines like Cosmopolitan. 

Digital PR specialists will work behind the scenes to monitor and identify stories, and then create compelling content to offer a fresh perspective and position you as an industry leader. Just like the HelloFresh example, the content can be pitched out to the relevant press to get maximum exposure in return for a backlink and mention. Forward-thinking journalists may even reach out to ask for expert commentary.

Proactive vs Reactive PR

Where reactive PR responds to the news, proactive PR is all about staying ahead of it and even creating the story to get attention. 

This could be through new research or features that are planned well in advance to give PR professionals the chance to collect data, create infographics or press releases. While it’s not responding to the news, it does need multiple news hooks to appeal to journalists and keep it relevant. 

For example, knowing St Patrick’s Day was coming up, we compiled data in a blog for our client Creditfix revealing the cheapest cities to buy beer. This blog got our client over 40 mentions and links in reputable news websites including Metro, Ladbible and in the local news. 

National days like Earth Day or something as niche as Cheese day, along with cultural celebrations like Easter or Halloween are good for proactive PR because they are highly likely to make the news and you can plan for them. Whereas more live events with a popular following, such as the Met Gala or BAFTAs are better suited to reactive PR, because you can comment on them as they occur.  

With proactive PR, you also have the opportunity to build relationships with journalists, which is critical to securing media coverage. It can even prove beneficial when it comes to reactive stories, because you might be top of the list to provide expert commentary. 

Both proactive and reactive PR are effective strategies for securing links and coverage – and you should be using a mix of both to improve your online presence.

How to Use Reactive PR for Link Building

Reactive PR makes an excellent link building strategy because the audience interest is already there. You just need quality content to give high authority websites a reason to link to it, which can boost your search engine rankings and credibility.

Newsjacking 

Set up news, Google and X alerts, so that you’re quickly notified of hot button stories. You can then identify which ones are relevant to your business and craft some quality content off the back of them, pitching to journalists or bloggers to get links and mentions.

Instead of parroting the content, choose a key point and use your expertise to provide further information and insights. Have a look online to see which angles other news websites or competitors have focused on – and then take a different approach to set yours apart.

Being present on online news channels or sharing your own content that shows off your knowledge can help you build authority and trust with your audience. Today, trust is essential to your reputation and business growth because customers will stay loyal to and recommend brands that they have confidence in. 

Content reactiveness

Speed and good timing is critical to reactive PR, so keep a track of current and developing stories in your industry that you could potentially respond to. Crafting longer-form blogs will give you plenty of opportunity to discuss the news, while shorter social media posts are also effective if you haven’t got the time or resources. 

Rather than trying to digest the entire news cycle – which is almost impossible with the amount of content that’s published – focus on news in your industry to build your brand’s authority. Especially if you’re in a niche sector, you could be the first brand to react, positioning you as a thought leader. You might even subtly promote your products or services as the solution while the topic is hot. 

Social media 

Social media has become essential to finding emerging trends or stories in your industry, and reacting to them. That’s why you see household brands like Aldi and Ryanair monitoring the platforms and quickly reacting to customers’ interests – from the latest reality TV shows to the news. This helps to keep brands relevant and draw attention. 

However, social media alone won’t be effective for link building. It’s best to share your stories or thoughts on the platform, and provide a web link to content like a blog which can achieve links from online news websites with a high domain authority. 
Social media is also great for research, because you can seek out developing stories or trends. You can even prepare reactive comments or think about content ideas before stories and trends take off.

Tips for Successful Reactive PR Strategies

Reacting to the news sounds simple enough. But your reaction has to be well-thought out and offer value so you can achieve links from it.

Timeliness

It’s best to react to breaking news or trends in the first few days – while the buzz is alive. If you wait, the story could become irrelevant, wasting your time and efforts. While you shouldn’t compromise the quality of your content, the sooner you react the better because if you’re one of the first brands to cover the topic, you have a better chance of getting the attention and driving links to your website. 

Relevance

Social media and news websites churn out masses of content everyday, from the latest celebrity marriage to shocking scandals, attracting millions of visitors and high engagement. That being said, it’s best to react to content that is relevant to your brand so you avoid confusing your image and customers. 

Google’s latest update means the content you share has to show experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, otherwise known as E-E-A-T. This means it needs to be helpful and relevant, so by sharing commentary on random topics, you could be sending search engines mixed signals about your website potentially lowering your search engine rankings and credibility. 

Benefits of Reactive Link Building

As well as improving your position in search engines, reactive link building can help to improve your online visibility and awareness.

Domain Authority 

There are a few ways to improve your website authority in the eyes of search engines, with reactive link building being one of them. 

Generally, your website needs to have quality content and be optimised from an SEO perspective to rank at all. But backlinks from high traffic websites push your rankings higher, and by creating reactive content that impresses high-traffic editorial websites or blogs, you can achieve authentic links to demonstrate your trustworthiness to Google. 

This can improve your rankings in the SERPs, and overtime your domain authority, so that ranking high will be effortless. 

Establishing Your Brand’s Expertise

Reactive PR, helps to position your brand and its people as experts with insights and commentary in reputable media titles. Being seen in the media with compelling content can boost your reputation and shape you as a thought leader – especially if you’re one of the first brands from your industry to react.

Not only that, you can improve your credibility and trust among your audience, which is critical to building a loyal customer base and generating leads.

Building Relationships 

For any type of PR, whether that’s brand or digital, you need to build relationships with journalists or bloggers to secure coverage and opportunities like expert commentary. 

Reactive PR is helpful for building relationships because you’re demonstrating your proactiveness and speed at responding. It can even lead to further opportunities like media coverage, guest blogging, and collaboration which can lead to valuable brand exposure and increased backlinks. 

Get Started With Using Reactive PR for Link Building

Reactive PR offers many benefits like increased authority and credibility, as well as driving your link building and SEO strategies. But to do it successfully, you need to be able to respond quickly and provide fresh insights that journalists or bloggers will want to link to. It’s also a case of monitoring the news and social media 24/7, so you can be the first to jump on a story. 

The Digital PR experts at Tank have the experience and knowledge to weed out relevant stories that will get you exposure and shape your brand. Get in touch to find out how we can support you.