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Digital PR – What is it and Do I Need It?

In the realm of marketing, businesses large and small need some strategy in place to ensure they remain visible to potential customers and clients. Millions of companies operate online, and the vast reach of the web generates both opportunities and challenges in marketing a business successfully. Enter digital PR – the new wave of public relations that is focused solely on brand-building and visibility through online avenues.

According to a leading digital PR agency, shifting efforts to encompass the breadth of online marketing is necessary for nearly all businesses in today’s highly digitised environment. However, creating a valuable digital PR strategy is not always an easy task, particularly for companies that do not have the connections or relationships with influencers in the space. Building a sound digital PR campaign requires understanding the differences between traditional and digital PR, what tactics are used most effectively in the space, and where to get started as a business.

Breaking Down Digital vs Traditional PR

The concept of digital PR is relatively simple on the surface. Instead of using channels pertinent to traditional public relations, such as print newspapers and magazines or television and radio media, digital PR focuses its attention on online mediums. The intent of digital PR is the same as traditional – to improve brand visibility and reach through multiple avenues. However, a digital approach does so with publications found online that may have a far greater reach than traditional paths.

With the right digital PR strategy, businesses can move the needle on several marketing factors. First, digital PR can increase brand awareness across all relevant audiences, as well as help create and nurture relationships with target audiences. A digital PR strategy, either as a stand-alone campaign or intertwined with a traditional plan, can ultimately bring in more customers. Digital PR also helps in improving search engine optimisation when a focus is placed on being a thought leader or authority on a certain topic.

Strategies Used in Digital PR

In addition to being an online strategy, digital PR differs from traditional public relations by using different avenues to build brand awareness or create buzz around a business or topic. For instance, digital PR specialists or agencies may focus efforts on building relationships with highly influential online personalities or bloggers, as well as journalists in the field. Digital PR also involves creating and pushing out online press releases, as well as including links back to a business site within each press release. In many digital PR strategies, a combination of traditional PR tactics and search engine optimisation is used to ensure the maximum reach of a target audience.

An often-overlooked advantage of digital PR over traditional strategies in public relations is the ability to track progress over time. Businesses in any industry, or of any size, can utilise a digital PR strategy more effectively than traditional mediums like print and television to determine what messages work best with the desired audience. Although digital PR takes time to produce a return on investment, the ability to reach exponentially more people through digital channels, and with less time, is turning digital PR into a priority for many businesses with an online presence.

Where to Start

Before diving into digital PR as a viable strategy for a business, it is necessary to understand if an online public relations campaign is the best fit. If you are looking for a viable way to increase brand awareness, promote the visibility of a brand, or improve the reputation of a brand, digital PR is likely a sound choice. These goals differ from a traditional marketing campaign in that the focus is not necessarily sales, but instead, boosting the impression a brand presents to the world.

Once digital PR has been determined to be a good fit, working with a professional digital PR agency is often a smart choice. Digital PR agencies typically have solid relationships with influencers, online publications, and individual journalists that can help take a brand from barely known to well-known with a strategic PR plan in place. However, businesses on a budget can tackle the initial steps of building out a digital PR campaign on their own if they have the time and know-how.

Typically, this starts with researching recent news relevant to the brand, and then coming up with a topic that relates to that news for which an article or other content can be developed. Once the content is created, reaching out to influential bloggers, journalists, or other online personalities is the next significant step. This is where most businesses turn to digital PR agencies for help, since many of these contacts receive multiple requests for support with PR on any given day. 

Although the steps of digital PR may seem overwhelming, they can be hugely beneficial for businesses willing to put in the work. Overall, digital PR is a necessary strategy for those who want to build their brand more than standard SEO or organic growth can provide.