WHAT IS DIGITAL PR? A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS VITAL BRAND-BUILDING TOOL
For much of the 20th century (and well into the 21st), traditional public relations was the go-to for generating brand awareness and increasing visibility.
During that time, companies turned to traditional PR outlets like print publications, radio and TV to get the word out and build brand memory among potential buyers.
Occasionally, companies made small strategy shifts to beef up impact. But for the most part, PR messaging flowed through traditional media. PR was pretty straightforward and more-or-less predictable.
But over the last 15-20 years, the explosive growth of digital technologies has turned the traditional, well, on its head.
What was once the conventional marketing approach has rapidly evolved into an ever-changing digital PR landscape.
This is a place where things like search engines and social media outlets not only matter. They also provide the very foundation for building awareness and shaping the brand conversation.
WHAT IS DIGITAL PR?
Simply put, digital PR is the use of digital tools and methods to increase brand awareness and reach online. A digital PR agency will utilize anything from brand audits, keyword research and technical SEO tactics to online content marketing, social media promotion and high-quality backlinks to bolster its digital PR efforts and ramp up client visibility in critical search engine results pages.
Well-designed digital PR strategies focus on creating online narratives that position your brand in the best light possible. The right digital PR campaign has the potential to:
Highlight your brand’s best attributes and value-add
Cultivate positive brand sentiment and trust among potential customers
Promote and increase brand engagement across various web properties
Maximize visibility and reach at key points in the online buyer’s journey
Increase impact and competitiveness in local search pages
Improve crisis management and head off issues before they get worse
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PR AND DIGITAL PR?
Like traditional PR, digital PR aims to cultivate a positive brand image and drive prospects to the point of sale. But unlike its predecessor, a digital PR campaign isn’t built around traditional press releases or managing crises through radio or TV. It’s designed to steer the brand conversation online.
In other words, conventional PR and digital public relations share the same goal, but part ways when it comes to the means and venue for getting there.
Yet, when they’re working together, traditional PR and digital PR campaigns can provide a powerful way to reinforce a compelling narrative. They can also help amplify your brand’s message across your target audience.
HOW IS DIGITAL PR DIFFERENT FROM DIGITAL MARKETING?
At first, it can be hard to separate Digital PR from online marketing, primarily because they have so much in common. In fact, both outreach methods often rely on many of the same methods and tools to achieve their ends. And in their own ways, they can also work to generate awareness and boost business revenue.
So, what exactly sets digital PR apart from online marketing? At the end of the day, there’s one important distinction that really defines and differentiates the two: objective.
The ultimate purpose of online marketing, or any type of marketing, is to convert customers and drive more sales. Marketing strategies tend to center on direct product or service promotion. They also involve efforts to compel prospects to take the next step.
Digital PR strategies, however, focus more on creating a positive and compelling brand image. In turn, this cultivates positive sentiment and benefits your business for the long term. An effective digital PR campaign involves outreach and efforts to promote your brand, with the eventual results being better customer loyalty and business growth down the road.
Each type of campaign offers unique value to your business. Knowing that value and the difference between digital PR vs. marketing is critical to maximizing the impact and ROI of each approach.
HOW DOES DIGITAL PR WORK?
Digital public relations combines various digital PR tools like SEO, content marketing, social media channels, digital influencers and review management to control the online conversation. A smart, customized digital PR campaign utilizes each element to elevate consistent and positive messaging to the forefront. Ideally, this strengthens brand awareness everywhere customers interact with your business.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Because digital PR takes place online, it’s only natural that SEO should have an integral role in shaping your digital public relations strategy. Much like in digital marketing, SEO provides the fuel online PR efforts need to achieve greater visibility and impact.
Search optimization ensures your quality content and messaging reach the top of search engine results. It’s also essential for improving your site’s domain authority, driving up your website’s ranking and ultimately boosting your website traffic numbers.
Additionally, SEO techniques can be powerful digital PR tools for combatting negative media coverage and cleaning up your image for important target keywords. SEO gives your digital PR strategy the muscle to replace harmful online reviews and press features in search results with relevant content that reenergizes your brand.
From improving visibility and domain authority to increasing organic search traffic and burying negative content, SEO has nearly limitless digital PR potential.
Any digital PR agency worth its weight knows the value of a robust content marketing approach.
That’s because a good content marketing strategy provides the crucial framework needed to create and build press releases, blogs and high-quality articles your audience will actually engage with. This high-quality content also helps define your brand as a thought leader in the future.
Quality content marketers help build the PR content you need to cultivate lasting customer connections. They also help establish relationships with high-authority websites and other online publications. These are essential for guest blogging and getting quality content published across the web.
This helps expand your digital PR campaign reach by generating buzz across online media outlets and spreading your message even further.
SOCIAL MEDIA OPTIMIZATION
Social media accounts for a healthy portion of the digital communications universe. It also has a sizable impact on brand awareness, perception and trust among online consumers. This makes social media channels an essential conduit for carrying out any digital PR strategy.
Take online press releases. At one time, it took traditional PR specialists countless hours and extensive networking to promote a press release announcement. But thanks to social media, it takes minutes or even seconds to get the word out.
In fact, social channels help facilitate the promotion of any blog, guest post, article or company news you share online. With a good social promotion strategy, you can instantly spotlight your messaging and numerous social platforms.
An active social media presence also allows you to quickly identify and manage new online crises, an invaluable feature of any digital PR campaign. Unlike the delay in many traditional PR settings, you can respond to new social media mentions and crises as soon as they pop up. Doing so helps mitigate complaints and controversy before they erode your brand.
Digital influencers may best be known for their impact on social media. But an influencer’s reach can often go far beyond the normal social channels, providing a valuable digital PR lift on high-authority sites and search results the minute your brand is mentioned online.
High-profile executives, leaders, online journalists and popular bloggers all have a level of influence that can carry a lot of weight with audiences you’re working to reach. Even the slightest brand reference by an industry expert can immediately elevate your message and strengthen your online brand credibility.
Of course, building relationships with online influencers and others with industry knowledge takes time and care. But the payoff for your brand promotion and digital PR efforts can be enormous, broadening your outreach far beyond expectations.
What does managing online reviews have to do with your digital PR strategy?
If your aim is to build trust with consumers and generate leads, the answer is simple: quite a lot.
Like it or not, reviews have become integral to the brand-consumer connection. So much so that 78% of consumers need to see that you have 100 or more reviews before trusting your brand. What’s more, 79% trust digital reviews as much as a loved one’s recommendation.
But it’s not just their importance to trust-building that makes digital reviews so critical to your company’s digital PR. Review platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, Trustpilot and others are now considered high-authority websites by search engines. That means that whatever feedback or ratings you have on those sites likely gets top billing in brand name searches.
As a digital PR tactic, review management allows you to monitor and cultivate brand sentiment at a critical juncture of brand interaction.
And the digital PR benefits of responding to reviews and mitigating potential PR nightmares are significant, to say the least.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DIGITAL PR?
While I’ve briefly touched on the advantages of a well-built digital public relations campaign, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate how digital PR benefits your business and, most importantly, your bottom line.
Digital PR helps:
EXPAND YOUR ONLINE REACH
A smart digital PR strategy provides the guest posting and influencer partnerships needed to reach new audiences and expand into new markets. High-authority article placements and high-profile media mentions carry your brand message further than ever.
INCREASE VISITORS TO YOUR SITE
An effective Digital PR campaign populates the web with original, optimized articles, blogs and social posts that spread your message and link to your website. This leads to more website traffic and more opportunities to nudge customers toward the point of sale.
BOOST RANKING IN GOOGLE SEARCH
Backed by SEO, optimized content production and publication on high-authority guests posts and blogs, digital PR generates the high-quality, relevant backlinks that boost your ranking across valuable Google search real estate.
SHARE BRAND NEWS AND UPDATES
A focused digital PR effort allows you to share each new press release and other high-quality company announcements with followers on a variety of channels. Once in their hands, those followers become brand ambassadors who spread the news even further.
BUILD BRAND AWARENESS AND AUTHORITY
More positive media mentions on high-authority news and industry outlets mean wider coverage and higher credibility for your business. And with the right digital PR approach, those brand mentions travel even further, capitalizing on the power of social media and online promotion techniques to increase brand awareness in critical consumer sectors.
STRENGTHEN BRAND LOYALTY WITH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
The increased authority and media coverage delivered by effective digital PR helps generate and reinforce trust in your brand. Featured as a credible source of info, your business earns the continued confidence of past and existing customers. In turn, these customers are far more likely to return and buy from you in the future.
GENERATE AND NURTURE LEADS
Digital PR provides the positive web presence and ongoing media coverage needed to improve public perception. It also works to cultivate the trust at the heart of quality lead generation. Higher levels of trust make it easier to nurture new leads and turn those prospects into direct sales.
SO, WHAT IS A DIGITAL PR AGENCY?
A digital PR agency specializes in strategies that empower brand awareness and authority on the internet.
An experienced digital PR team understands the factors that impact reach, sentiment and trust. They also know how to leverage all available digital technologies and methods to optimize brand visibility, and nurture lasting customer relationships across key customer touchpoints. These include search results, social media, paid ads and more.
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT DIGITAL PR FIRM FOR MY BUSINESS?
If building awareness and strengthening customer connections are at the top of your priority list, finding the right digital PR agency is essential. But with so many firms to choose from, how do you narrow your options and identify a firm you can trust?
When evaluating what’s out there, it’s important to consider:
When it comes to digital PR, experience is everything.
The best digital PR companies don’t just make lofty claims about delivering great service and industry-leading results. They back it up with the know-how and insight only possible after years of firsthand experience.
Many companies talk about cutting-edge SEO and utilizing the latest techniques to pursue positive outcomes. Yet, few actually maintain the principled focus needed to continually push the envelope and take on the ever-changing digital landscape.
The right digital PR firm doesn’t just understand the value of innovation. They also maintain the flexibility and follow-through needed to adapt and continually maximize online impact.
The best digital PR firms design strategies that not only fit your needs and budget, but which work seamlessly with your digital marketing and offline methods to deliver the best results possible.
A trustworthy agency works closely with your internal marketing and PR teams to ensure all efforts are aligned and aimed at the same objective: maximizing your online potential.
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