Digital Public Relations (PR) has become more than just a simple buzzword thrown around as a topic of conversation or method of getting coverage. In the world of integrated PR, digital marketing and communications media, digital PR has become a strategic method for companies to boost their brand awareness, storytelling abilities, expand their target audiences, and earn more media coverage.
Digitization has become essential to the success of businesses, and any business that has not expanded its online presence through digital transformation is sure to struggle now and in the future. The present and future digital age does not wait for public relations professionals who do not adapt.
A Diversion From the Traditional
Traditional PR is a reference to what public relations used to encapsulate, before the digital age “revolution” and the internet bubble of the nineties. Its methods lie in using a media strategy to help a client (business, celebrity, politician) gain brand coverage in print – more often than not in newspapers and industry-specific magazines – as well as on traditional broadcasting channels such as TV and radio.
Now, as we all know, there is more to the world of media than print and television/radio. As industries adapt, PR experts, including PR specialists, must follow – and sometimes, PR must lead in digital transformation. Tradition, while somewhere to look to for guidance, does not dictate how PR professionals should act and react to the needs of the client and the consumer. Instead, we must look to tradition and offer more in this digital world to help clients reach their target audience.
With the advent of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, and the capabilities to reach consumers who want to be reached, online PR campaigns became more inclusive and open to various audiences. There are hundreds upon thousands of media outlets that cater to every kind of industry and person – the limitations to what PR professionals can do to reach a new target audience is almost infinite though some boundaries must remain.
Now, What Exactly is the “Digital” in Digital Public Relations (PR)?
“Digital” sounds like an intimidating word (including for PR professionals), simply because it encompasses so much. Everything seems to be digital, or everyone wants to go digital. But what is it?
Digital became what it is known more widely as, “relating to, using, or storing data or information in the form of digital signals [in TV or broadcasting]”, in the 1960s. Before then, it was simply in reference to the numbers one through ten – the number of fingers or “digits” on one’s hands.
In PR, enabling the digital is about using online data or client/consumer data to make better and faster decisions, devolving decision making to smaller teams, and developing much more iterative and rapid ways of doing things. Thinking in this way shouldn’t be limited to just a handful of functions.
Digital PR campaigns are necessary for strong media relations, elevated SEO for brand awareness, storytelling, capturing new and old audiences and consumers, and earning tactical media coverage.
What Digital PR Can Bring
There are more benefits to digital PR efforts than there are disadvantages. Digital PR makes your agency and/or company stronger, while also showing you are savvy when it comes to adapting and expanding business opportunities. Some of the main benefits include:
Creates Media Credibility That Is Earned, Not Paid
While paid media has its place in PR, by enabling digital PR tactics, a brand can produce thought-leadership content and commentary across media outlets that get them organically earned media coverage rather than backed up by payments.
Initiates Brand Loyalty
Consumers are more likely to trust a brand that enables digital accessibility and produces online PR content that feels organic and personal; consumers will look to a company for advisory rather than just a product with more trust.
Improves Search Ranking Score
When a brand becomes more trustworthy due to organic media backlinks to your site, source credibility and thought-leadership commentary, search rank improves greatly on Google.
Produces Social Shares
Genuine stories told with the aid of online public relations earn genuine social media buzz and attention. Social media attention earns brands more consumers who 1) enjoy their content and 2) are more likely to trust them.
Delivers Tangible Ways to Achieve and Track KPIs
With fully integrated digital PR, agencies with PR professionals can assist a business in tracking nearly every aspect of consumer interaction/success rate which helps businesses track results for a more productive future.
What You Need for Digital PR to Thrive: Digital PR Strategy
Digital PR is not obtainable without any tangible strategy. Oftentimes, an agency with PR experts will help a business develop the most successful strategy, but businesses will need to address several things to initiate the creation of a truly digital PR campaign and useful digital PR strategy:
- Identify what you already are successful in
- Set objectives for what you know you need and want. Ask yourself:
- Do you want more traffic to your homepage?
- Are you hosting an event that needs support?
- Is there a new product release you need media support on?
- Do you want more media content published about your company?
- Build out achievable goals, with activation strategies and details to help you build out a plan that will actually garner the results you desire
- Be as communicative as you can with your team.
Digital PR is an array of many things, and it may seem intimidating, even for public relations professionals, to internally initiate internal strategy and planning. But with the right support, including from PR specialists, and the right tools, digital PR can bring more success for your company in the long-run. So, choose each digital PR tactic wisely, but don’t be afraid to try something new.