Why Digital PR is an important part of your Communication Strategy
Public Relations (PR) can be traced as far back as the Greek philosopher Socrates persuading crowds of people in public debate.
The formal profession of PR dates back to the early 20th century with Edward Bernay who would write the book Crystallizing Public Opinion and is believed to be the first book to define and explain the field of PR.
Since then, PR has continued to evolve along with the changing roles of leadership in corporate America and advances in technology.
Today, PR as defined by the Public Relations Society of America as the following:
Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
Some of the things that traditionally fall within the spectrum of PR include things like Corporate Communications, Crisis Communications, Internal Communications, Media Relations, Content Creation, Local Events, Social Media, and Reputation Management.
So What is Digital PR?
Digital PR is a new term that has emerged in the last several years.
You will be hard-pressed to find a definitive definition, but there is a growing body of work on the topic that I will summarize below.
Traditional PR helps manage an organization’s reputation by reaching out to media outlets and the local community in order to get third-party validation for the organization.
Digital PR still focuses on managing the organization’s reputation but does so through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques like backlinks, link building, and domain authority to name just a few.
In order to help with this, agencies and organizations still network with journalists but they also include bloggers and other influencers to increase high-quality backlinks, social media mentions and improve the SEO.
While there a lot of overlap with traditional PR and modern SEO practices, ensuring you take advantage of the digital aspects of your PR work can result in some good organizational benefits.
Benefits of Digital PR
Just like traditional PR, Digital PR should increase awareness of the brand but will do it by increasing the quantity and quality of backlinks.
This should increase website traffic, which results in leads, which means potential sales.
If done correctly, Digital PR should also increase trust in the organization.
Choose the outlets and individuals to proactively engage that you feel will reflect well on the organization and then do your research, prepare, and make the pitch.
It should also generate engagement about the brand.
If engaging an influencer or media outlet, they will typically highlight the results on their platform.
Depending upon the outlet, this may expose new people to your organization and generate engaging discussions on their channels which you can then amplify.
RebootOnline has a list of 11 Digital PR examples and explains why each one of them was successful.
How to Measure Success
Digital PR has some basic metrics which can be easily measured:
• Domain Authority
• Estimated Page Views
• Bounce Rate
• Social Shares
When the goal of the engagement is to increase trust and reputation, that is a little harder to measure but falls within the field of Reputation Management.
The ultimate metric of success is whether or not Digital PR helps generate leads and sales for your business.
Tools and Resources
If you would like to get started with Digital PR, there are some websites that can be useful when conducting research and generating options.
HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, connects journalists seeking expertise to include in their content with sources who have that expertise.
If you register as a Source, you’ll get three emails a day with lists of journalists looking for interview opportunities on a variety of topics.
Prowly has a journalist database, allows you to create a press release, pitch to the media reps, it has a simple online CRM, and can give you a company-branded “newsroom” to post all your press releases.
It is a great one to use at a relatively low cost.
If you’re looking to raise the bar a little more, the next three options are used regularly by PR professionals.
The prices are not listed on the websites if that gives you an indication, but from personal experience, I’ve sorted them from least expensive to most expensive.
MuckRack is another journalist database that allows you to find the right journalists for your story, build targeted media lists, send customized pitches, collaborate with your team, and quantify your impact with reports.
Meltwater is the next level and has areas of emphasis in Brand Management, Media Relations, Crisis Communication, and PR Reporting.
Depending upon which level of subscription you choose, you can get media monitoring, social media management, social influencer management, and more.
Cision is probably the oldest and largest of the group and it has evolved over the years through a number of different mergers.
It has media monitoring, a relationship manager, audience and attribution, and analysis and reporting features.
I have used all of these services at different points over the years, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but your budget will likely help determine how in-depth you go with your Digital PR software.
Get to Work
The technical aspects of Digital PR are fairly easy to learn, implement and assess. The Media Relations aspect of Digital PR involves a little more nuance.
Reporters and some influencers don’t like to be spammed, they are typically overworked, understaffed, and it would behoove you to do a little research prior to engaging with them.
If you pick the right person and do the preparation, the results could provide tremendous benefits for your organization.