What Is Digital PR? Here’s Why You Need It
People tend to keep to their own circles in the realm of digital marketing, but a unique approach known as digital PR ties all of these circles together into a neat bow alongside traditional PR principles.
Like its traditional counterpart, digital PR aims to expose a brand to as many people as possible while presenting it in a highly professional light. Like content marketing and reputation management, having brand messaging turn up on search engines is also priority. Like influencer marketing, digital PR departments extensively network with trending influencer sites and video channels to collaborate on content, creating optimal conditions for a viral takeoff.
Finally, a website design oriented towards brand values along with other strategically crafted content can further the reach of PR messaging through an omnichannel spectrum.
The sum of these activities, under the wing of an experienced PR team, will create a strategic brand outreach designed to increase the number of positive conversations surrounding a brand. Research on audience and competitors drives all of these decisions through a coordinated and connected strategy that produces far more impact than each activity acting separately.
That, friends, is digital PR in a nutshell. But, just a simple nut provides many diverse culinary uses, digital PR can be used in many applications to fit the goals at hand. You can explore those capabilities along with the finer details of digital PR and how it can benefit you by reading on.
How Is Digital PR Different from Traditional PR?
Ever since companies began hiring spokespeople to talk to the public on their behalf, public relations has played a critical strategic role in their operations. Traditional PR techniques serve as the mouthpiece of that business with an aim to influence public opinion, albeit in a neutral sounding light.
When a company wants to announce a big project, they don’t go out and make a commercial first. They either craft a press release, hold a press conference or do both and pitch the idea in a way more digestible to the news media.
Likewise, when a company ends up in the crosshairs of negative public opinion, PR representatives must put out fires and do damage control. This type of PR shows how traditional methods could manifest themselves in different ways, mainly through the release of public statements and the coaching of any executives who may have a news mike thrust in their face.
There is also the cross-promotional type of PR, where a company becomes involved in a joint, non-commercial operations, such as sponsoring a major charity event or promotion. PR teams not only craft the press release materials associated with these campaigns, they likely conceived of them to enhance the company’s image.
Digital PR, by comparison, is less concerned with feeding news-oriented topics and announcements to proscribed channels. Instead, digital PR firms aim to connect audiences directly with company messages. It does so with the objective to sound authentic rather than over-promotional.
In fact, even though they often work on the same team, digital PR can help temper overambitious marketing efforts if they feel that overreaching could conflict with brand messaging. In essence, digital PR companies become the online voice of the brand, but usually directly to audiences rather than feeding materials into the news cycle. When it does pass along newsworthy content for collaboration, it usually has far more control over the outcome than would be found in an interaction with traditional media. More on that type of influencer-based digital PR in a moment.
Two identical companies release announcements for two nearly identical experimental technologies they will be using in future products. One hires a traditional agency, which crafts ready-made news stories and a segment for nightly news shows.
The other hires a digital PR agency, which creates an announcement video event with a pre-release hype cycle on Facebook, Twitter, paid display and other possible channels. After the video is released, the digital PR agency releases a detailed white paper and also schedules appearances on popular Youtube channels. They also submit press releases to local and national news outlets, which likely end up covering the announcement a few days after-the-fact. A traditional PR company, on the other hand, will likely just stick to the last step of reaching out to news organizations.
How Digital PR Can Improve Important Marketing Metrics
1. Search Engine Rankings Growth
As we’ve stated before, one of the most important parts of digital PR is reaching out to industry influencers to backlink to your content. When they do so, that sends a signal to Google that you are important and authoritative enough in your field for the big players to pay attention to you. As such, it is more likely that your search engine rankings will improve.
2. Website Traffic Growth
Depending on your industry, related influencers could have thousands or even millions of followers. When they post your content directly, or even just link back to it on your site, those followers are introduced to your products and/or services. That increase in traffic growth both signals to Google that your rankings should be boosted, while also naturally increasing sales.
3. Increasing Brand Trust
When consumers follow influencers, they generally do so because they trust that influencer’s opinion. So, if that influencer points to your site, it increases your business’s trustworthiness. While this is great from a sales standpoint, there is also a second benefit. Google knows these influencers are trusted, so when your trustworthiness increases, so do your rankings.
Is Digital PR Similar to Content Marketing and SEO?
In short, yes. But, it is much more research- and strategy-based.
In a traditional content or link-building campaign, the content may reflect a set of audience segment or keyword goals. However, the sum of these goals usually amounts to covering bases well, with a sub-goal of meeting demand for certain types of content.
With digital PR, each piece of content fits into a much more calculated strategy for presenting the brand. Instead of writing content just to answer the odd Google question, digital PR agencies aim to make their clients thought leaders on a subject. The release of infographics, which are often readily shared, occurs regularly, as does special pieces of long-form content.
Social media marketing can reinforce these engagement efforts, teasing content with main website links or repackaging content into bite-sized pieces.
The end result is the influencing of public opinion regarding a company and its values.
The Importance of Research and Audience Measurement
In SEO and traditional marketing, objective, numbers-based metrics rule the roost. Influencing opinion may matter, but only in terms of trying to make one company seem “better” than another through a differentiating value or feature.
Digital PR agencies cannot afford to be so vague. Instead, they reflect their clients’ values in ways that concern highly subjective and context-specific opinions. For example, an eyeglass company may be considered to have high-quality frames as a marketing goal, but being recognized for making all materials in America and having that reflect the quality of the frames may be a PR goal.
To accomplish these goals, digital PR agencies consider what ethical values a brand can embrace to craft a highly specific persona for that brand. They then diligently measure public opinion through social listening, surveys and other research, which could include the metrics that marketers obsess over.
Digital PR agencies also research the most effective avenue for messaging, including connecting with the aforementioned influencers. By collaborating with people with large online audiences, like blog curators or YouTube channel hosts, to share preferred brand messaging, digital PR can influence the public opinion of their legions of followers.
So, as we expressed before, digital PR is everything good about content marketing, SEO, social media marketing and traditional PR wrapped up in a nutshell. But, it can be prepared in so many different ways and interact with so many other main ingredients that keeping a firm eye on the data is imperative. Though it does take work, when used correctly, digital PR can propel your business to an unprecedented level of success.