Just how hard should a PR pro push to get a backlink to a client’s webpage?

A run-in with one PR pro sent Digiday’s Lara O’Reilly to Twitter to ask about a practice that is more and more common these days: asking for a link to your webpage.

Backlinks are an important part of building domain authority, a factor that helps improve search engine optimization (SEO). Services such as Moz can help you measure domain authority, which is a measure of how authoritative your website is. This is assessed by looking at how many websites are linking to your webpage as a resource. Did The New York Times link to your research? Your DA will go up.

That means  PR pros are perfectly positioned to help their clients develop better SEO with link-building opportunities. However, how pushy should you be about asking for those links?

O’Reilly tweets that she is OK with adding links in particular instances.

And she seems to be OK with a PR pro asking for the backlink—though her answer is still probably a “no.” Instead, it’s the PR pro refusing the interview over the linking issue.

When to ask for a link

There are some scenarios that will never fly for PR pros asking for a backlink. Here at PR Daily, we get emails every day asking us to add a resource to an article already published on our site—sometimes for content that was published years ago.

That’s not PR; that’s being lazy.

It’s more acceptable to push for a link if your research or content is being featured in a story. That’s what is behind the idea of a “link magnet”—content that is intended to draw a number of backlinks form influential sites. You could also get a link to a press release in your online newsroom.

But what about when you offer a source to a publication? Can you ask for a backlink to their organization’s homepage?

Serving the reader

Some online argue that a backlink is an essential service to a reader, helping them navigate quickly to find you.

If you want to make that case in your PR pitch, be prepared for a savvy journalist to roll their eyes about a reader’s inability to use Google to find you.

What the client wants

PR pros must satisfy the client—and in a world of digital media, perhaps link building and measuring SEO is the future of how PR pros can demonstrate value to clients.

However, the interaction can leave reporters feeling annoyed.

It’s important to remember that reporters, and the media outlets they work for, are symbiotic partners at best and will not respond well to threats, intimidation or demands. Whether or not they choose to include your backlink is an editorial decision that they are allowed to make, and if they refuse—you have to be willing to go along.

After all, a mention in the publication is still better than a rant about your misdeeds on social media.

And lest you think this is just one reporter’s opinion, here’s what others have to say:


What do you think about asking for backlinks, PR Daily readers?


5 Responses to “Is it OK to demand links from a reporter?”

    Simon Brooks says:

    PR pros are in the business of reputation management. As print publications close en masse, organisations must now rely on their search engine visability to build reputation. Backilnks increase domain authority, which increases visibility and therefore builds reputation. Fairly simple equation really. Online marketers have been doing this for years.

    michael Vannest says:

    You definitely should not be pushy about getting a backlink. I do think it is ok to at least ask in a kind professional manner. If I ask a reporter to link a story back my company’s site and they decline I simply move on. It is not worth jeopardizing your relationship with the reporter or the outlet.

    Deon Binneman says:

    I will never be pushy about it. However, if you can ask for a byline, why can’t you ask for a backlink. What if I just ask for : “information supplied by D. Binneman, email address, website link”?

    If researchers need to cite where they got information from, why should it be any different? But I also realise that there could be a problem with fake news and /or urls. Its for that reason that some people will not click on url shorteners, but rather on the original link.

    Alexander Greenwood says:

    I’m not demanding anything from a reporter but accurate reporting. I will certainly provide links with the press release and other materials, but it’s not advantageous in the long run to demand they include links.

    David Thalberg says:

    As one of the Tweets quoted here (surprise!), I stand by my comment. As journalism has changed, so has PR, and the needs and demands of our clients. Links shouldn’t be required, but when profiling a company, it is nice having that link in an article. It is so helpful for SEO.

    I suppose it’s up to the media. Some do, some don’t. If asked politely, and for a company that doesn’t have wide national recognition, it’s not so much to ask. Agreed?