First we need to remember that PR is about getting people to speak positively about your organisation – for free. We’ve talked about media relations quite a bit. Your objective is achieved by building links with journalists and other press to get them to share your story for free. Digital PR works in exactly the same way, it’s just that it’s digital. Digital PR is where you build relationships with journalists, bloggers and influencers in the digital world, sending out press releases and comments in the hope that they will mention you and provide links to your content/website.
There are a number of reasons why you need to think of digital PR as a separate part of your PR plan
- Everyone is going digital – Back in 2016 The Independent was the first UK newspaper to abandon print to move to a 100% digital distribution. The influence of online publications and ‘news’ versus print is increasing.
- Website traffic – One of the reasons digital PR is so important is because it generates direct traffic to your website. A link to an article or other content is worth even more when it’s from a reputable source like a news article or publication.
- Boost your SEO – And this leads on to SEO. The more links to your site from reputable sites, the more ‘Google brownie points’ you’re going to get. In fact, if the content is created wit SEO in mind, you can seriously boost your search rankings generally.
- Brand recognition – Of course, all PR is about brand recognition but digital PR has a hidden gem. When your name is mentioned, or content shared within a reputable online source it helps Google and other audiences (clients, targets, referrers, journalists) to see that you’re a credible source of authority.
- Social media shares and followers – Within all of this is the wonderful opportunity for boosting followers on social media. In essence, digital PR can ensure you have an audience that has opted in to follow your every word – gold!
- Developing brand loyalty – People see, more often, that you’re sharing and commenting on good things in a reputable place. They learn to trust you more quickly because they’re seeing more of what you’re doing and how.
- Cost effective – One of the things that’s wonderful about digital PR is how cost effective it is. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and can be done far more quickly and inexpensively than traditional PR, that requires professionals with press contacts.
- Measure everything – The other wonderful thing about digital PR is how everything can be measured. Unlike traditional PR (which can be hard to measure the ROI of) digital PR is entirely measurable in terms of clicks and website/social media traffic.
With all of these things in mind the best digital PR people develop strong content with a unique hook or angle that the press will be interested in and combine it with SEO strategy – optimising the content to tick all the relevant search boxes.
Some types of Digital PR activity include:
- Publishing your own articles online (on your website and LinkedIn profiles)
- Networking with press to gain backlinks and publication of complete comment/articles
- Press releases shared with press for publication and back links (and making sure these are written with a digital audience, SEO and back links in mind)
- All of the above shared with bloggers and online news site editors to gain backlinks and mentions
- All of the above shared with influencers (think that referrer that has a huge online presence) to gain backlinks and mentions
- Offline press events or blogger events that aim to gain online coverage
- Sharing and syndicating infographics, videos, gifs, white papers, downloadable guides etc
- Using social media to identify hashtags and wider conversations to ‘jump into’, building relationships with key influencers and audiences to share content etc
- Online organisation profiles and reviews
Thinking of the right things to say online
Finally, we wanted to mention the big question everyone has, concerning what to say. This is where we go full circle in terms of where digital PR sits within your overall PR strategy. We think, for professional services, that digital PR is one tool within your PR armoury. In the same way we don’t believe in social media strategies we don’t believe in digital PR strategies. You should work out your overall communications strategy and objectives, then use the tools that best suit. Digital PR may well be a part of this but it’s unlikely to be 100% of the plan. Your messages and understanding your target audiences all come from this. Yes, of course, there are different audiences online and there is benefit in spending time brainstorming personas and digital messages, as well as in looking at SEO and keyword use to get it right… but it doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. Existing print content can be repurposed as infographics or a series of blogs. As with all things the success lies in understanding who you’re talking to and about what… the rest will follow!