A Marketer’s Guide to Digital PR
Digital PR is a vital part of any businesses’ marketing strategy. No matter what is at the top of your list of goals, from building brand awareness, to growing organic traffic, to increasing sales, having a developed and well-implemented Digital PR strategy in place can provide the advantage you are looking for.
A combination of traditional and digital-based marketing, Digital PR uses the targeting capabilities and data available to digital campaign teams and combines them with traditional PR techniques to improve traffic, rankings and brand awareness.
In this in-depth article, you will learn the importance of analysing data, how digital PR strategies are put in place and the tools we use at Click to ensure success.
What is Digital PR?
Literally meaning ‘digital public relations’, Digital PR is a form of online marketing used by businesses to launch, build and grow their online presence. Often described as “a strategic communication process that builds relationships between organisations and their public”, digital PR is all about subtle promotional tactics in order for your ideal clients/ customers to start the buying journey with your business.
Digital PR strategies look to boost a business’ online prominence by building relationships with journalists, bloggers and social media influencers in order to generate wider media exposure across as many mediums as possible. Remember to keep it relevant, as always it’s about quality not quantity .
By creating and distributing content online that is engaging, your business can build the foundations of a solid relationship with your target audience.
If developed and implemented correctly, the exposure created through a Digital PR strategy can see your business build effective targeted campaigns across an array of influential online platforms, with the ultimate goal of reaching out and indirectly influencing a much wider audience.
Why Digital PR is important
Although there are multiple ways to grow an online company, increase profits and exceed your goals, the most important aspect of building a successful business is ensuring you have good visibility in your chosen marketplace.
As the ways in which customers shop continue to evolve, modern businesses need to do so much more than simply lean on a brand name to improve performance, induce growth and increase profits. Influencing and engaging with a range of media outlets and members of the public through a digital PR strategy is the best way to enhance your brand’s reputation. By controlling the narrative of content and collaborating with a selection of media outlets and influencers, and ensuring an honest and distinctive brand voice is maintained, your business can reap the rewards simply by connecting with a much wider audience and getting the message of your brand out there. If done well, growth and boosted performance for your online business should follow.
While this process may sound simple and you may think a formal strategy is not necessary, it’s important to remember that the success of a digital PR campaign depends on the quality and reputation of the websites you are able to work with and who links back to your site.
By having Google’s trust you can send positive signals to your website and therefore increase site’s visibility.
Search engines, such as Google, analyse the link profile of websites, if they believe that you are attempting to purposely manipulate the system with unnatural content and poor link building techniques to achieve rankings, you are likely to be penalised.
Websites that hold real authority, such as national news outlets and popular independent journalists/bloggers with a good number of followers, are viewed by search engines as valuable, reliable and user-friendly sources of information. For this reason, when links to your business appear on these sites, they may be more likely to be rewarded with better rankings, leading to a wider audience for your business and higher website traffic.
How does Digital PR affect SEO?
We must stress that digital PR is so much more than link building – in fact, this side of a strategy is a bonus! Digital PR and SEO can work as a symbiotic relationship, but only if the PR has content that an audience would naturally engage with.
Modern digital PR strategies have closer ties with SEO than ever before. When implemented correctly, digital PR campaigns see these two branches of digital marketing work closely together to grow a brand’s credibility, reputation and online visibility. This is because relevant content that has been written in accordance with keyword research carried out by an SEO professional is more likely to accrue the quality links with third party media outlets and platforms that is needed in order for a brand to feel the benefits of digital PR.
To put it simply, a well-thought out and implemented digital PR campaign should positively impact SEO performance and a strong SEO performance should positively impact the results achieved by a digital PR strategy. Working in tandem, these traditionally different approaches to digital marketing should now be implemented together to potentially improve your website’s search engine visibility and ranking and your brand’s reputation.
What are some Digital PR techniques?
However, adopting a digital PR strategy that fits your brand while ensuring content stands out from the crowd is not always easy. Fortunately, there are a number of digital PR techniques that we use at Click, to make your content more appealing and give your strategy a greater chance of success. A general approach to your strategy might be:
- Creating the best content for your audience:
- Pitching to the right people:
- Keeping an eye out for non-linking coverage:
From conducting surveys and producing beautifully designed infographics to creating interactive assets, games, video content and long-form articles, striking the right note when it comes to launching a Digital PR campaign all comes down to selecting the best content type for your target audience.
Whether you’re targeting a news outlet with several thousand journalists or a social-media subculture, doing your research to ensure you locate and pitch to the specialist individuals most likely to connect with your campaign is essential. Pitching blindly will see you waste time and money, while putting the research hours in before pitching will give you a much higher chance of achieving meaningful and successful links.
No matter how hard you work on a Digital PR campaign, you won’t always get the credit you deserve. If a journalist, blogger or influencer covers your content but fails to provide a link to your brand’s site, never be afraid to follow this up. A polite email to a journalist or influencer can go a long way. And remember, if this fails, many major news outlets even have a specific corrections email which you can reach out to.
We have two main approaches for how we offer digital PR as a service; traditional Hero campaigns and Always-On. Our traditional Hero campaigns are ‘big splash’ style campaigns that are usually a one off and receive both digital PR and Influencer Marketing.
You can find more information about these different types of campaigns by reading Damien’s article. But, we thought we’d share key insights from our ‘Always On’ approach to digital PR.
– this technique is about responding to opportunities in real-time. Preparation is key here as you are essentially waiting for something to come in that you are prepared to jump on.
– you don’t need to be a soothsayer for this technique, but as the name suggests you have to have a proactive approach. We suggest using social listening tools, and do in-depth research into a particular client’s industry – what are people already engaging with?
– seemingly similar to our ‘reactive’ approach, the key difference between the two is timing. You need to be extremely quick off the mark for a newsjacking article to do well. Fleeting trends and breaking news are what affects this technique. Try to always remember the key rules of digital PR; make it relevant and engaging!
How to create a Digital PR campaign
The key to creating a successful Digital PR campaign revolves around your ability to outreach. If your brand is able to build strong and lasting relationships with third parties that can help your business reach relevant audiences, create a buzz around your brand and develop quality inbound links to boost your search visibility, your Digital PR strategy will pay dividends. However, how do you do this? Well, to get you started, there are four areas you need to focus on:
- Developing and maintaining authentic relationships with brand-relevant journalists, bloggers, social media personalities and/or influencers.
- Creating a genuine and loyal following that interacts with your website, social media pages and each other.
- Researching, identifying and contacting the most suitable third parties with whom you feel you can develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Producing high quality and unique content that will keep your followers and third party journalists/influencers engaged, as well as wanting to feature and share it as part of their own work.
And remember – Digital PR campaigns don’t happen overnight. They require a lot of time and effort, both in terms of initial research and when it comes to developing and maintaining relationships with your contacts.
What are some of the best examples of Digital PR?
Although we have launched hundreds of successful digital PR campaigns over the years, we’re particularly proud of the work that went into a campaign for Oxfam.
In order to achieve the desired results, the digital PR campaign objectives were set as:
- Increasing brand awareness across demographics.
- Positively impacting page rankings across the whole ‘Unwrapped UK’ site area.
- Increasing the organic rankings for the vital ‘Charity Gifts’ search term.
- Creating natural, high quality and shareable content.
- Creating a campaign which empowered bloggers, making them want to be part of it.
Increasing brand awareness was achieved in a variety of ways – each of which was nested and interlinked with all of the other areas of the campaign’s aims – from outreach to and conversation with bloggers carried out on social media, to the creation of a bespoke ‘badge’ to generate links and the creation and distribution of high-definition, high quality images and informative fact-sheets to encourage the active participation of existing and newly fostered blogger communities.
You can find the full case study here.
Best Digital PR tools to help with campaigns
Although the tools used to help with Digital PR campaigns can differ from agency to agency, there are a number that are used almost universally. Here at Click, some of the best tools we use include:
Answer The Public
We use this during the ideation stage. This free tool takes search data for your chosen keywords and shows the most commonly asked questions, the most searched for terms surrounding the topic and the comparisons that are often searched for, surrounding that topic. We primarily use this to help us find topics that the public is genuinely interested in as well as to justify why a topic is worth exploring.
This is a free chrome extension that is incredibly useful when building out a media list. It quickly shows you a list of similar sites to the one you’re currently on and even ranks them by readership/visitors. This is especially useful for clients who operate in a niche industry or when we’re looking to target a specific type of publication, such as eco friendly.
Our most-used tool, Cision is essentially a database of journalists’ contact details in the UK. Once we’ve identified which sites we want to target as part of a campaign, we can search for a list of all contacts at each site, making it invaluable. It often contains pitching preference notes from the journalist as well, so you know who prefers to be chased via email and who would prefer a phone call, for example. It also allows you to search via topic so you can narrow down which journalists at that publication are most likely to be receptive to your release.
Similar to Cision, Muck Rack allows you to see which stories a journalist has published recently. This is really helpful when building out a media list because it lets you check if the journalist you were planning to contact actually does cover that topic or not. It can also be useful in helping you track popular angles as you can see successful approaches other journalists have taken with your topic.
Another extension but this time for emails, Hubspot sends tracking info with all your emails allowing you to see which journalists have opened your email, how many times and even if they’ve clicked on your attachments. This is helpful during outreach because you can identify where you may need to target a different journalist at the same publication because your first choice isn’t opening our email.
Actually more an SEO tool than a Digital PR one, we use Ahrefs’ link intersect tool to help track coverage. By searching for the client blog post URL that was linked in the press release you can see which sites have picked up the release and are linking.
ResponseSource is a tool journalists use to source what they need for their upcoming stories. Essentially they will send out a request to anyone who is subscribed to that topic detailing the story they’re working on, what they need and when they need it. This is obviously useful for our Digital PR campaigns because the journalist is actually coming to you. We also often use this tool to provide products to relevant journalists for review.
Digital PR can be pivotal to a brand’s success, why not leave it to the experts? Get in contact with us!
- Category: Digital PR