Inauthentic PR, guaranteed coverage and irrelevant links

Written by Sharon Flaherty

16th Mai 2024

Authenticity and relevance is paramount for any brand to build a genuine connection and trust with its audience and to, importantly, maintain credibility. 

Good digital communication agencies, which create long term value for clients, know this and it forms the bedrock of their strategies.

But in a world with challenging KPIs and withered marketing budgets, there is an increasing trend for agencies to offer up quick wins and easy goals. Sometimes they offer a spivvy promise of ‘results guaranteed’.

This can lead to some unusual combinations that tick short term KPIs, but are potentially damaging in the long term.

Juicy content, irrelevant links

One of these tactics includes unusual unpaid links in articles. An agency, on behalf of a client brand (say a financial services firm) might interview a celebrity, or someone with some juicy insight. They’ll give a quote from the brand to a journalist – often at a national publication with a high domain authority – and the article will namecheck the brand, sometimes providing a link.

The reader may be left wondering why they’ve read an article about a member of the royal family’s favourite cereal with a link to a hedge fund management firm. 

This sort of strategy is inauthentic for your brand (and won’t do the journalists or news sites any favours either). And it’s downright confusing.

Risky Google tactics

It could also be damaging as far as the Google SEO Gods are concerned. An insurance company might jump at the chance to feature on a consumer entertainment site with a gazillion Gen Z users. But placing their link in an article about a trending Netflix show with no relevance to the brand just sends confusing messages.

Seeking to exploit Google’s algorithm is a low-quality SEO tactic, which is always risky. The agencies offering these links do know this, by the way. 

As a general rule, it makes sense to consider the relevance of the page where the link to your domain is getting placed. Is there a connection between the two – a car insurance brand in an article about driving, for example? If not, this a bright red flag to Google about the legitimacy of the link and your site could be penalised. Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines are all about people-first content. So relevance is key. And besides, who reads an article about the best way to slice a kumquat, and then clicks through to a crypto currency exchange? OK, a few curious browsers will, but they sure aren’t going to hang around.

Just building hundreds of links, regardless of brand positioning, is not a sustainable long term strategy. An offer of a guaranteed placement or link does not equate to credible, trust-building coverage and it’s important to avoid shady firms that bake up these opportunities. No one can guarantee media coverage unless they pay for it.

Real digital PR is about gaining reliable, high quality links and mentions in a genuine way.

So, always question, does the coverage I’m being offered tie with our brand? Will it resonate with potential customers and is it part of a strategy aimed at authentic reputation-building? 


Want help to create strategic communications that benefits your brand in the long term? Contact Folk