When we’re asked “What is Digital PR?” the simple answer is that it is just part of PR and that things have evolved since the arrival of the internet and social media.
The thing is, we’re asked about it so much that we thought would be useful to explore the differences between Digital PR and ‘Traditional PR’ or old-school public relations involving newspapers, magazines, journals, lobbying, radio and TV.
Can You Spot The Difference Yet?
With Traditional and Digital PR, the goal is the same, you are still seeking to manage the relationship between your brand and its target audience and stakeholders to present your brand in the best possible light or limit damage in the event of a crisis situation.
There are two big differences when comparing Digital PR to Traditional PR: channels and permanency.
Back in the old days, a regional brand would have its local newspaper, radio station, and regional TV station as its main media. If the story was big enough, you could get some national TV channels (apparently our oldest directors can still recall a time when there was just BBC1, BBC2, and ITV!). Nothing wrong with that at all. They all had big and loyal audiences. Fast forward from the 1980’s to today though and there are millions of channels and platforms with smaller more niche audiences. Of course, people consume their media in a completely different way mainly through choosing what they want to see in their social media feeds. At this point, you could be forgiven for worrying about the quality of what they are consuming in a ‘FAKE NEWS’ world – our MD Martyn King tackles this subject in more detail if you want to hang around a bit longer…
These days, news sticks! Every time your brand posts something online or gets a mention online you are increasing your digital footprint. The old adage of, “Today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper” has gone completely.
How Is Digital PR Carried Out?
Of course, strategically most of the thinking involved in public relations hasn’t changed. Working our what you are saying and the impact you’d like it to make is critically important. When you turn your attention to where you are going to say it and where your message is likely to (permanently) end up with when Digital PR tactics really kick in.
While there are many contributing factors, quality content supported by an excellent SEO strategy is the key to an effective Digital PR campaign. This means posting stories and features that will interest your target audience but will also please our crucial ally, Mr Google. Thoughtfully using internal and external links while targeting relevant keywords is crucial to effective SEO content writing and effective SEO content writing is essential to improving a brand’s searchability online. We won’t bore you with all the technical aspects of SEO right now, but you can read more about this in our last article on why SEO is an important part of an overall marketing strategy. (Editor’s note: the technical aspects of SEO are not boring. SEO content writing is where cold-hard data, the art of writing, and the challenge of a 1000 piece all-red puzzle intersect; what could be more interesting?)
Basically, we want any content that we publish to encourage customer interaction and to drive traffic to the brand’s website. An example of this is posting a press release or publishing and article on closely relevant, reputable websites with links leading to your own brand’s site (using the appropriate rel=”sponsored” and rel=“Nofollow”, of course). By promoting your brand on trusted sites with good levels of traffic, visitors to the said site are likely to see your content and recognise its worth. What’s more, if an existing customer sees your content posted on a trusted website, it will improve brand authenticity and consequently encourage further interaction.
Another way you can get your brand assets to appear on other websites is through Google Display advertising. Unlike SEO, Google Display advertising is a paid channel and you will be charged when your Display ad is clicked on, a pre-determined action is carried out, or every time it has been seen a pre-determined number of times; it all depends on your bidding strategy. That said, no matter which bidding strategy you go with, Display ads provide excellent value for money as they run at a very low cost. Display ads can be targeted toward specific audiences, made to show (or not show) on specific sites, and provide invaluable data that can be used to improve their performance on an on-going basis. There is much more to them than this, but what we have briefly covered should be enough to give you a good idea of why they are renowned for being such a powerful brand awareness tool.
While Search Engine Marketing may be crucial, we cannot answer “what is Digital PR?” without mentioning social media. Love it or hate it, social media is one of the best ways to get people talking about your brand. The more a brand is mentioned on social media, the more it is talked about in real life and the greater the brand’s online presence gets. Every Like, Share, Comment, Retweet, etc. is an instant interaction with the brand.
Interestingly, one of the most effective Social Media channels for Public Relations is YouTube. What makes YouTube particularly interesting is that it blurs the line between Traditional and Digital. In terms of advertising, the similarities it shares with TV advertising are stark, with many videos featuring ads before playing and during. That said, YouTube really highlights the advantage that all digital channels have over traditional ones, in that advertisers have access to a wealth of data that allows them to better target who sees their ads and when. On the other side of the coin, videos published on YouTube can also be powerful PR tools, especially when your channel starts to pick up subscribers or a particular video of yours (or one that happens to positively mention your product, service, or brand) becomes popular.
This leads us to another key aspect of Digital PR, which is promoting conversation about the brand. Online, people can leave reviews, they can comment on videos or images, and even react to press releases and articles. The internet presents an invaluable opportunity to facilitate a high level of brand interaction, which simply wouldn’t be possible in Traditional PR. Although this should come with a warning…
There might be no such thing as bad PR when it comes to getting famous, however, in the world of Digital PR, there really is. Bad PR is 100% worse than no PR when it comes to a brand’s online presence. It’s easier to reach a larger audience more quickly online, which means it’s also easier for bad news to do the rounds more quickly. Additionally, once uploaded, online content is incredibly difficult to remove, leaving brands at risk of significant, if not permanent, damage.
This is why a well-thought-out and well-planned Digital PR strategy is so important, and why it’s always worth seeking advice from established Public Relations agencies. Established Public Relations agencies like Fuel Communications, for example.
How Can Brands Benefit From It?
That’s enough on ‘what is Digital PR’. Let’s be honest, what you’re probably more interested in is how it can actually benefit your brand.
To cut a long story short, an effective Digital PR strategy will increase your brand’s presence online, which will ultimately drive more traffic (and with that, sales) through your door. It does so by:
- Improving brand image and identity – A focussed campaign will help foster a unique identity for your brand, whilst quality content and interactions will build brand authenticity.
- Increasing brand engagement and interaction – get your audience talking by posting content and articles of interest.
- Improving your website’s Organic ranking – Appearing higher up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) makes your brand more visible to users who are searching for the exact service or product that you have to offer.
If you’d like to learn more about Digital PR and the services that we offer at Fuel Communications, please call us on 01752 987909 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, if you found this article on Google and would like to make our SEO guy particularly happy, you can visit our Public Relations service page and send us a message through the form at the bottom of the page.