This article aims to answer "What is digital PR?" and demonstrate how digital PR can increase leads and customer acquisition and how a solid strategy improves brand awareness. We'll also look at the differences between digital and traditional PR and provide a step-by-step digital PR strategy.
As part of the holistic marketing and PR strategy,
Digital PR can be defined as a promotional tactic implemented by marketers and PR specialists to increase a brand’s or individual’s online presence.
This assists with driving brand awareness, prompting website traffic, creating links to boost organic rankings, and increasing online (or offline) sales, social following, and engagement - all in a measurable way.
Digital PR (or online PR), meaning applying the principles of PR to a digital context, should not be confused with SEO strategies. SEO is a ballgame, and we’ll touch on that toward the end.
Digital public relations is there to support the overall marketing and comms goals.
Digital PR’s evolution has mirrored the advancements made in tech. Previously, PR focused on traditional media. Think newspapers, television, and radio. The goal was to build relationships with journalists and secure coverage to reach your target audience. Therefore, the approach heavily relied on networking and long-term media relationships.
However, with the advent of digital, PR underwent a significant evolution, and the focus expanded to reaching broader audiences, made possible by the rise of social media, with its ability to amplify a brand message, engage in real-time interactions, and gather immediate feedback. PR practitioners now have the opportunity to broaden their audience through other means, such as websites, emails, podcasts, and blogs.
Today, Digital PR is integral to any brand.
The rise of analytics paved the way for data-driven strategies, allowing PR professionals to measure campaign impact and tailor accordingly, thus showing the value of PR to clients and stakeholders. The highly dynamic nature of digital PR also makes it easier to adapt to the latest trends and practice newsjacking. This approach leverages the real-time nature of digital platforms, allowing PR professionals to tap into ongoing conversations or breaking news to amplify their brand's message. By monitoring trending topics, news stories, or industry-specific discussions, PR teams can craft timely and relevant content that aligns with these conversations.
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Now that we better understand digital PR, let’s consider what we want to achieve with our digital PR strategy. How do we know if we’re working towards measurable results? First, any successful public relations campaign or total strategy is measurable. We set milestones, KPIs, and end goals and ensure we have a unit of measurement for each. For example, a measurement could be increased domain authority or social shares from the PR campaign.
As online PR is an intersection of traditional PR, some customary goals have followed the evolution of public relations:
Communications are now highly digitalized. A letter to the editor is now most likely a well-crafted email. Pitching to journalists is more of a working goal that builds towards the overall goals you want to achieve. However, pitching should not be overlooked in terms of value.
A well-planned and personalized pitch to a journalist is the first step in building a relationship.
Quality relationships should be nurtured by maintaining contact with journalists and media outlets that offer a mutually beneficial partnership - something that comes in handy when you need an online platform for publicity.
Let’s say you’re a startup and new to the technology scene - you must create a name for yourself and differentiate yourself from competitors.
A noteworthy online presence is one step toward becoming well-known among your target audience.
For more established corporations, it’s important to maintain brand awareness - so that competitors don’t take over your position in the market.
Getting third-party endorsements and earned coverage has always been a goal of PR. This carried over into the online world by, for example, aiming to achieve a certain number of earned impressions online.
Remember, a paid-for Google Ad is the work of marketing and advertising; an earned feature in an online news publication is the result of digital PR.
Earning coverage shows that others believe in and support your brand - backing your reputation.
The great thing about digital content is that it is highly customizable and can be tailored to the profile of who you’re reaching out to. Afterall, who doesn’t appreciate a personalized email?
Matching the perspective of your target audience has always been key to acquiring customers.
Online networking with journalists and bloggers is one way the digital space enables us to win more leads since digital PR can reach an extensive online audience.
We can use Digital PR for SEO improvement.
A good online reputation can get you some strong backlinks. If you stay consistent in your PR performance, it can easily result in obtaining some links from authoritative sites in your industry - Google loves this. When digital PR and SEO work together, your overall communication goals will be within reach. You must pay attention to your backlinks' quality- always ensure they are valuable for your business.
Depending on the expectations of your digital PR campaign, the goals you set will either look similar to the above-mentioned or a little different. Overall, no matter the goal, the aim is to grow the business (depending on what that may look like to you) through the power of PR.
Brands are no longer restricted to media pitches sent out to journalists. They are now realizing the power of their content, which can be utilized in brand journalism, thought leadership, and storytelling. Not only do these facilitate the creation of insightful content that helps position the brand as an industry expert but they also capture the audience's attention and build trust over time.
Digital content can heavily influence and shape public perceptions of your brand, its values, credibility, and overall identity. The content a brand produces can be a powerful tool that can strengthen the feelings consumers have toward it. For example, engaging, useful content can keep people coming back for more, reinforce positive brand impressions, and encourage others to share your content.
It can also serve to attract leads through well-placed CTAs or just as a direct result of the content and its relatability to the reader.
Content can educate and inform people’s purchase choices.
All this helps your credibility in the eyes of the consumer, giving them greater confidence in what you say and in your offering. As we’ve seen, It can also boost SEO, driving traffic to your website, and raising your online presence.
In a world where almost everything happens online, some predict that print media will disappear almost entirely in the next decade. This means you will have to put all your efforts into digital PR. PR experts are adept at maximizing digital PR and marketing. Here are some of the ways:
Digital public relations is concerned with reputation building and getting coverage via third-party endorsers. Where PR focuses on partnerships, press releases, and guest blogging,
SEO is more concerned with website performance and having content fit what users are searching for, as we’ll see.
Public relations serves the purpose of creating value through the information that’s being shared. SEO aims to optimize that information - including keywords and phrases you need to rank for, for the benefit of Google. If someone has seen your company name before, the likelihood of them clicking your link is much higher when they see it in the SERPs.
Success in digital PR is measured by the quantity and quality of online coverage, brand mentions, engagement, and impact on sales. SEO success is measured by SERPs, organic traffic volume, click-through rate, and time spent on the site.
Digital PR and branding are closely linked. Digital can be critical in promoting and shaping a brand’s identity online.
In the digital era, brand image and reputation are impacted by online presence and how it interacts and engages with audiences.
Digital PR strategies, such as online content creation, social media campaigns, and influencer collaborations, are used in branding. A well-thought-out digital strategy ensures consistent messaging and visibility across all platforms, enhancing the brand's credibility and reach and helping it get its story out there.
Digital PR and Social Media are closely interrelated. Each works to complement and enhance the other. Digital aims to maintain and build a reputation online through content marketing, thought leadership, backlinks, and media pitches. Social media allows this content to be shared and engaged with.
Social media can amplify your digital PR efforts.
Social media can help maintain a positive social reputation and interaction value, providing a way to communicate in real time. Digital PR can also engage via press releases and thought leadership articles.
An effective digital public relations strategy can benefit your business in multiple ways, be it by creating exposure, building brand reputation, or ultimately creating more sales and lead generation. Here are some steps to follow when planning the strategy:
Always have a clear goal and know what you’re working towards.
The overall marketing and communications objectives will always be the golden thread to follow, yet you need to be specific with what goals you want to achieve through PR content creation. When every element has a clear purpose, execution and measuring are much easier.
Goals can and will vary depending on the company. For example, increasing your email marketing list, strengthening trust in your brand, driving traffic to the homepage, etc. So don’t forget to set a goal, know what you want to impact with your PR work, and compare the differences.
Be clear about who you are trying to reach and understand the audience you’re communicating with.
By outlining the pains and gains of the target audience, you can more easily identify what content would be relevant to them. For example, a newsletter sent to monthly subscribers or an industry report for B2B communications Understanding the market is greatly valuable as it helps to put yourself in their shoes and understand their perspective.
Who your target audience is depends on what they’re looking for. Ultimately, your goal should be to connect with the target audience and supply what they demand. If you are clear on your goal, it’ll be much easier to be clear on your target audience. And the way to better understand that is to do research.
You need to understand what you’re talking about.
The more information you collect, the easier it is to develop pitching angles and key messages for your content.
Once you’ve done your desk research, think of a few catchy stories and see if the industry data supports the success of your chosen topics. You can easily use a media monitoring tool to gather information.
Brainstorm some specific ideas that you want to dive deeper into. That way, you will have a clear aim for research. Don’t go in blindly as you’ll get lost in the avalanche of information. Go in with certainty and a purpose. That way, you will discover clear information on what is important, and you’ll be able to filter out the most important information.
Next, once you have your content, think of which news outlets or journalists share common ground with your news stories. It’s also important to consider if your content is fresh and exciting for journalists or bloggers to write about.
Having a short list of journalists ready to pitch is also handy when building relationships.
Networking is essential. The target audience is hiding somewhere in the readership of those media outlets most suitable for your sphere of work. Identify them and have a steady focus. This will cement their willingness for further cooperation.
Now, the actual digital PR strategy can follow a few different routes:
It is recommended to map out the steps you will take. This will structure your process, set you on a clear path for your digital PR strategy, and help you stay focused on the most important fragments of your process. One step at a time, it’ll all come together to form a well-delivered digital PR strategy, hitting a bullseye as long as you stay on target.
Once you are confident with your pitch and PR plan, it’s time to refine the content piece - fill in the blanks and give it a unique character. Be sure to flesh out the details and get the tone of voice perfect. If your content piece is an online article or blog post, be sure to have clear headings.
In PR, content can be used for thought leadership and data presentation. Thought leadership involves interviews, providing commentary, and getting a face (CEO, Founder) out there.
Data presentation is the translation of a data set. The most intriguing or relevant parts of the data are given a creative makeover and a compelling story is born.
Now that your content is ready to share, contact the journalists and bloggers on your shortlist. The right content and a good pitch will lead to success. It can take a few tries before a journalist is interested or you get noticed. Just keep pitching and working towards your goal.
Persistence will work in the end. Additionally, it is wise to use a brand-mentioning tool to know when your business name is mentioned and you have started establishing a presence.
Media monitoring tools are your friend. You can easily set up a media monitoring tool like SEMrush to get notified every time your name or product is mentioned in the media. By keeping tabs on this, you’ll know if a link to your website was included and if there’s a possibility to get in touch with the editor to undergo a PR partnership in the future.
Hopefully, this article gave you a clear overview of what you need to know about digital PR. To recap,
digital PR means building, managing, and maintaining your online reputation by considering brand awareness, driving traffic to a website, and creating links to boost organic rankings, sales, social sharing, and digital engagements.
Your digital public relations strategy's goals will depend highly on what you want to achieve through your PR efforts. Having a clear goal in mind will not only help you to create a results-driven digital PR strategy, but it'll also help you unlock advantages, such as increasing brand awareness, establishing accurate messaging, and creating highly engaging content. It is also important to note that traditional PR has different goals and advantages.
Fortunately, many helpful tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush help you monitor and measure ROI. Having a specialized digital PR agency can also help.