January 6, 2021
The acronym PR typically conjures up images of well-groomed professionals helping clients cultivate a great reputation, and get glowing, positive media exposure. While that is still true, the insertion of digital into the mix has brought about some inevitable and powerful changes in the evolution of public relations (PR).
While traditional PR focused on offline media such as newspapers and other publications, digital PR is used to increase awareness, reputation, and understanding of a brand using online platforms. There are multiple ways this can be achieved – building high-quality links through online coverage on various platforms such as blog sites, social media, podcasts, mentions, honest (hopefully good) customer reviews, and so on.
In turn, this boosts the brand’s website ranking, traffic, and conversions through SEO because the higher and more valuable (e.g. an unknown blog vs Forbes.com) your backlinks are, the better you rank on search engines.
Traditional PR vs Digital PR
Traditional PR involves networking with journalists in order to get featured on media platforms like newspapers, magazines, radio, and television through unpaid or paid methods. The industry was built to serve big companies in the market who did not have direct access to the media, depending on PR professionals to obtain it.
However, today, there are thousands of startups and almost as many online platforms that are easily accessible to individuals to publish and build their brand. Access to most media is within reach of everyone and publicists struggle with less newsworthy announcements and low PR budgets.
Fortunately, digital PR finds other ways to win media coverage and online reach. Digital PR strategies predominantly focus on publishing articles and securing backlinks from relevant websites and blogs. It still involves nurturing relationships with journalists and other media professionals to get mentioned in the press, especially online publications.
Why Digital PR?
A well planned and executed digital PR strategy can provide enormous benefits to a brand, both directly and indirectly:
- Grow your digital presence – Creating a digital footprint is challenging but critical for a brand today.
- Reach the relevant audience: Identifying target personas and creating customized content is a key pillar of the strategy.
- Increase website traffic: Through link building, keyword research, and SEO focused articles your brand features on search engines frequently, thereby, increasing traffic to your website.
- Boost SEO: When your high-quality content is published on 3rd party platforms and other high authority sites that link back to your website, your SEO improves. And traffic to your site increases.
- Become an expert in your niche: High-quality inbound links to your website from credible sources not only increases brand reach but also improves trust in your brand. This, in turn, makes you an expert, thought-leader, and expert solution provider in your niche.
- Improve your brand image: With more and more positive content, reviews, and insights about your brand on the Internet, you see increased trust in your brand.
Digital PR: six steps to getting started
- Identify your audience – For digital PR to work, it is important to use your existing channels, such as customers, clients, social medial, email lists, etc. to identify your audience personas
- Content strategy – Based on your business goals and audience personas, build custom content on the platform/s that best suit your business as well as target the relevant audience
- SEO – Research, identify, and analyse keywords to bring in web traffic. Digital PR unlike traditional PR allows you to analyse keywords and determine the type of content that is relevant to your specific audience. Build relationships with customers, influencers & bloggers to increase backlinks and traffic.
- Produce high-quality content that is not only limited to text but also includes other formats, like infographics, videos, animation, etc. Digital PR also means the opportunity to interact with your customers and potential clients, grow an audience through content, gather positive reviews, and work on the feedback you receive from customers.
- Pitch to online media platforms: Request credible sources, bloggers, and influencers to talk about your brand on their website or profiles – ensure there is a genuine connection and relevance
- Measure and manage: Unlike traditional PR, digital PR can have key performance indicators (KPIs) that are clearly measurable. Here are a few digital PR metrics that can be used to measure ROI:
- Traffic data from Google Analytics
- Number of active backlinks
- Social reach and engagement
- Customized campaign data
- Domain authority
- Online reviews
Digital PR is, of course, easier said than done. While some of its tactics may differ from traditional PR, it continues to require brand understanding, awareness, and very good media relationships.
An individual founder or CEO may find it a challenge to take on this responsibility, in addition to running a business. It may be worth hiring a professional with both traditional and digital PR expertise to get the best of both worlds.