Digital PR is a contemporary twist on traditional PR and communications. It promotes products and services and influences public opinion and perception. With proper strategies in place, you can bring a spotlight to your brand to increase your media coverage, increase trust, generate leads, and improve your brand image.
- Traditional and digital PR are similar but also quite different.
- 88% of digital public relations teams believe that storytelling is crucial.
- Different stories will generate types of ROI — some might be revenue-focused, whilst other strategies might improve branding and SEO.
What is digital PR?
Digital PR is the practice of developing digital strategies to elevate brand perception, gain visibility, and achieve marketing goals. Traditional PR and digital PR are not the same.
- Traditional PR: Includes print media, billboard advertisements, press releases, TV, and radio.
- Digital PR: Includes social media campaigns, linkable asset creation (infographics, case studies, research, memes), influencer marketing, guest blogging, content creation, and influencer and blogger outreach.
Both traditional and digital PR involves building relationships with reporters and bloggers. But there is one key difference that digital PR has over traditional PR: collaboration.
There is often a collaborative element associated with campaigns with digital PR that is rarely discussed online. By collaboration, I mean people will develop relationships, help each other out, and do favours.
Digital PR statistics
- Since 2016, digital PR has rapidly expanded in the market, growing from US$14 billion to a whopping US$63.8 billion in 2018, according to Statista. In 2022 it’s expected to continue growing and hit an astounding US$93.07 billion.
- 88% of leading PR professionals have listed digital storytelling as a critical strategy due to the growing trend of digitalisation.
- The cost for a press release on Business Wire can cost as much as US$760 for 400 words.
- 79% of brands use Instagram influencer marketing as their digital PR tactic, as 92% of consumers trust influencers more than a celebrity endorsement.
- 48% of decision-makers spend more than an hour each week consuming thought leadership content, and nearly half of survey respondents consider a brand’s thought leadership before making purchasing decisions.
The importance of digital PR
Every business needs a solid online presence and good digital PR that helps to improve the overall reputation of their brand online. Here are some of the reasons why you need to invest in this compelling strategy to reap significant benefits:
1. Builds brand identity
Digital PR helps build your brand’s know-how and reputation. By showing off your company and its expertise, a brand can provide potential customers insight into why your brand is valuable, reliable, and trustworthy.
News offered through regular stories, social media, and thought leadership creates positive brand impressions. It’s vital to have a well thought out strategy to strike while you’re hot.
2. Enhances reputation
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s either going to make or break your business, depending on the experience. According to data provided by Zendesk, a positive customer service experience increase the chances of consumers making another purchase by as much as 81%.
Social media has replaced word-of-mouth as the most trusted way for consumers to research and learn about new brands before purchasing them. Businesses must ensure their brand reputation stays positive and remains at the forefront of everyone’s mind regarding quality and service.
3. Boosts SEO visibility
Digital PR helps brands gain authoritative links, which helps to increase a brand’s domain authority, organic search volume, and backlink profile, whilst at the same time, it can result in sales.
Some examples might include:
- Guest posts.
- Positive reviews.
- Social media interactions.
- PR and influencer outreach.
Brands should not underestimate the sheer power of branded searches. From what we see here at Earned Media, there is a positive correlation between branded search and keyword rankings.
Meaning that if a brand has a considerable amount of branded search and its organic traffic from its blog is performing poorly (I.e. SEO was not a core component of their digital marketing strategy).
When a brand receives a lot of branded search and starts optimising its content and building links, it can yield 1,000% faster results when compared to not optimising content or building links.
In some cases, we’ve seen clients immediately land on page 1 of Google Search for competitive queries by creating optimised content due to their strong branded search and domain authority. Link building supercharges this.
4. Expands your audience
Digital PR can expand your audience. With a good PR agency, you can become more known for your business, products, and services and expand your business to increase revenue.
Digital PR is one of the best ways to get your message across to your prospects without spending several thousand dollars on billboards or print ads that will only reach a few people.
5. Drives targeted click-through traffic
When crafting marketable campaigns, you have to take linkability into account. Linkability requires all links embedded within articles about your brand to be hyperlinked and redirected to your website.
Links drive traffic, and when a brand is mentioned in topically relevant publications, the popularity of that traffic tends to be from users who could potentially be customers or clients of yours.
Retargeting should be at the heart of any digital PR campaign. Add these potential customers to your retargeting lists and target them on social networks or other display channels to drive sales.
6. Enhances credibility
Showcasing “as featured in” logos on your site can be a powerful form of marketing, especially if you’re working in an industry where trust takes precedence when making serious lifestyle-related purchases or for unknown companies. A “featured in” section on a website adds credibility.
It is easy for consumers to determine whether a brand has already been tried and tested by influential publication outlets. The more top-tier publications you have appeared in, the greater the trust you can instil in your consumers.
If a top tier publication featured your brand, consider adding coverage to your “about” page. You can even mention it across social networks like Facebook and Twitter to add credibility to your brand name.
Some examples of digital PR
An effective PR campaign is one of the most critical aspects of successfully getting your brand noticed in a market where everything has become digital. Here are some of the examples of successful digital PR by top brands.
Example 1: Uber lost and found index
Most of us have probably used Uber to travel at least once, so chances are quite a few of us had left something behind when we reached our destination. Last year there were approximately 5 billion trips taken.
Uber created a ‘Lost and Found‘ index to help its customers that have left something behind in Uber’s ridesharing service. The index became quite popular among and valuable for its users.
Uber collects data from their “lost item” submissions on the app to compile a list of the most commonly forgotten items and the most unusual — ranging from the most frequently left items, including phones, to keys and wallets.
The strategy used by Uber is one of the great examples of utilising internal data to create a clickbait digital PR campaign. Uber has gained links across multiple publications that significantly boosted its online visibility from this campaign.
Example 2: Semetrical’s office demand campaign
When the lockdown eased, Semetrical created a PR campaign for a company that offers businesses serviced office space.
Semetrical ran a PR campaign with the data story where office spaces are most in demand. A considerable challenge that Semetrical faced was that people started to prefer the work from home (WFH) option.
Through this campaign, they gathered links to access regional and business publications. And this campaign helped their business establish itself as an influential voice in the industry.
Example 3: Sky’s “The UK’s favourite small talk” campaign
With most people stuck in their homes for a significant amount of time, companies were momentarily unable to develop ideas on what they wanted to advertise. In a desperate bid to make the best of a bad situation, Sky TV used its case to achieve fantastic marketing by asking Britons what they would talk about whilst trapped at home.
Many people assumed that it would be the weather, but television was what Britons discussed the most during the lockdown. Forty-one per cent of respondents affirmed this. This was excellent marketing by Sky because they were able to show how their services helped people get through the difficult times.
Example 4: AXA’s digital PR
The French multinational insurance firm, AXA, used the media to spread awareness about seatbelt safety throughout Chinese schools. The company produced an educational video and education program that highlighted the importance of bringing seatbelts into school culture.
Over six months, more than 125,000 children and parents participated in one of these programs.
Afterwards, consumers remembered AXA as the brand associated with this initiative (77%), showing some favourable associations; a quarter of people considered buying insurance from ACE — this was double what it had been before the campaign began. Their brilliant strategy doubled their profits.
How to plan a digital PR strategy?
If you are pitching a blog or news site, the most important thing for you to focus on is making their lives easier. That means coming up with exciting topics that their readers will enjoy. Here is how you can plan a PR campaign.
Step 1: Define your goals
Clarity is at the heart of all digital PR strategies. Without this, everything else will fall apart, seeing your hard work crumble before you. But it’s vital to layout your plan by first knowing why you’re engaging in public relations in the first place.
While the main objective always involves increased sales and more money, take some time to write down what precisely specific content must accomplish to get prospects interested enough to make those purchases.
Your checklist might include things like:
- Increase the traffic to your home page or product/service page.
- Grow your email list to get consistent revenue over repeated sales.
- Enhance brand visibility.
- Gain brand authority.
- Earn quality backlinks to improve SEO.
Step 2: Analyse your audience
Tailor content to your audience so that they can relate to your content and connect with your brand. You can do this by identifying their pain points and needs. Consider their demographics:
- Socio-economic information.
Step 3: Research and pinpoint hot topics
How do you find the trending topics for your PR? The answer lies below the layers of analysis. Here are some things you can do:
- Head to Google Trends, type in your main topic area, and find what’s trending.
- Filter some topics and start doing content and keyword research using BuzzSumo, Semrush, or Ahrefs.
- If you focus on social media marketing, search hashtags and see what people are talking about in your niche.
- Research the top ten blogs in your niche, observe the main topics they have covered, and see if you can develop a new angle.
Step 4: Check whether your topic is new and fresh
Before jumping the gun, you’ll want to ensure that your content isn’t already there. Nothing is worse than going through all of the hoops to create and pitch before realising somebody else beat you to it.
Search for competing sites or original content similar to yours if it exists in a similar form, then attempt to find another unique idea or angle.
Step 5: Create a killer piece of content
It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of actually making your content come alive. Decide on what type of content piece it will be, for example:
- A YouTube video.
- A linkable asset. I.e. An infographic, case study, report, an online tool, etc.
- Coining a specific term in your industry.
Once you have worked out the content piece, you’ll need to create a design brief to get the content created.
Step 6: Outreach
Once you are ready with the content, it’s time to start reaching out to journalists to publish your work. For an effective digital PR campaign, you need to try and get as much coverage as you can for your business.
Start by creating an outreach list and find relevant journalists to pitch your stories. You can find reporter’s emails in a variety of ways:
- Using PR software like Cision, Meltwater, and MediaConnect.
- Using email finder tools like Hunter, VoilaNorbert, and my personal favourite, ContactOut.
- Or search for reporters on Twitter, as many share of them will share their email addresses in their bio.
There are three ways to go about pitching journalists.
- The mass approach: While this can sometimes work if it is a timely-sensitive story — often you’ll find that it doesn’t. That’s because reporters will assume that you’ve contacted another 100 other journalists.
- A personalised approach: Emailing a reporter 1:1 with an exclusive — if the reporter is not interested, you can consider emailing another one. But, only after that you’ve confirmed the reporter was not interested in the story.
- Introductions: Getting an introduction to a respected journalist from a source that they respect builds trust but can also help you break through from the noise and truly stand out.
Remember that journalists receive hundreds of emails daily. It is essential to respect their time. Be unique, thoughtful and strategic.
The advantages of digital PR
- You can stay in front of your target audience while consuming content on publications.
- You can drive targeted traffic to your website by enhancing SEO.
- It opens the door for social engagement and lets the people open up the conversation on your brand.
- Through high-profile placements, you can earn credibility for your brand.
- It introduces your brand to new audiences and expands the brand reach.
- Less expensive when compared to digital marketing and advertising campaigns.
- It can offer an excellent return on investment (ROI).
The disadvantages of digital PR
- It is not easy to track everything and measure the performance.
- Developing relationships with media professionals is time-consuming.
- The landscape is highly dynamic, making it hard to keep up with trends.
- If your strategy is not strong, you won’t get the desired results.
Digital PR tools
How would you keep finding better content ideas, organising an outreach campaign, and measuring the results? Well, you can use several tools for the entire process. Here are some PR tools you can use.
Google Trends is a tool that helps you see how search behaviours for specific queries have changed over time. Google Trends is also super helpful because it allows users to layer their top terms by category. After all, then, as marketers, you can better determine the most efficient keywords within any given market.
Similarly, you can also look on social media networking sites to see what stories are trending now, for example, on Twitter:
It helps you analyse competition and search volume and check domain authority and backlink profile. This can be especially useful for ranking and analysing sites by:
- Domain rating (DR): The strength of the domain.
- Organic traffic (OT): The total number of traffic a particular website gets from search engines.
- Traffic value (TV): An estimation of how much the monthly traffic value is worth.
Cision is one of the leading tools for creating a catered list of prospects, journalists, and editors. It also allows you to reach out to reporters and create lists based on specific beats and locations.
Responsa can be used for digital PR and link building. The platform contains email addresses and ways for you to get in touch with reporters, bloggers and influencers. Alternatively, you could also try HeyPress, JustReachOut, and PitchEngine.
You can use Mailshake, ActiveCampaign, Outplay, and Yesware to send emails to reporters, bloggers, and influencers. You’ll need to upload a CSV file of names and email addresses, create an email template, and hit “send.”
Google analytics shows data on traffic insights, user behaviours, traffic growth rate, and more. This tool is free to use and is offered by Google. You can create an account and start tracking the data related to your PR campaigns.
Google Search Console
You can know about the organic search volume, the average click-through rate, impressions, referral traffic, and position in SERPs results.
Google Reverse Image Search
If you want to find whether your images or visual content appears on the search results, you can use this tool.
Take the guesswork out of your multi-account, cross-channel reporting process with Whatagraph — a performance marketing analytics tool that automates data visualisation.
Social Planner is another all-in-one content marketing and social media scheduling to help you find, plan, and publish content that connects with your audience.
This tool allows you to track your brand mention, impression, sentiment data, engagement rates, finding influencers, etc.
Several platforms allow you to connect with reporters looking for quotes on various topics. You’ll need to sign up and begin answering queries from journalists to become a source. Some examples include:
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO).
- SourceBottle (for Australian media).
Monitor brand mentions
You can use tools like Brand24 and Mention to monitor the web, including social media, for brand mentions. This is quite handy, especially the social media monitoring, as it allows brands to chime in on the conversation.
With tools like these, you can also use them to monitor competitors’ media mentions and set up daily alerts. Occasionally brands can jump in on conversations if they see specific opportunities arise. For example, if a competitor’s customer wants a feature that they don’t offer — but you do — it would make sense to chime in and let them know.
No matter what kind of digital PR route you take, getting started is the main thing. If something isn’t going well, consider reviewing your strategy and look for areas that you can improve.
PR can work for every business, including businesses in boring niches. The key is to find angles. If you’re finding that nothing is working, then it might be better to have an external PR consultant view your current strategy to see if they can identify areas of improvement.
The ROI generated from digital PR will vary across business niches. It is important to point out that different stories will generate types of ROI, and that’s for a good reason.
- Brand ROI: A story about a founder or company’s background story will likely not generate revenue but will result in a positive brand ROI.
- Revenue ROI: If a story is product-related and shows the benefit of a particular product or service.
- Thought leadership ROI: If a spokesperson from a company is sharing their view on a particular topic (e.g. a quote), this may not result in sales but instead can add to branding as a thought leader in a specific industry.
- SEO ROI: If you’re able to obtain a link from the outreach (e.g. a linkable asset), this can improve keyword rankings.
- Traffic ROI: The amount of web traffic a story generates to your brand.
- Word of mouth ROI: The number of people talking about a story or piece of media (e.g. YouTube clip, infographic, etc) on social media.
Digital PR is transforming how businesses interact with the media and their customers. Not only has it reshaped the traditional media landscape by reinventing the way brands communicate with the world.
But it has also drastically increased the efficiency of PR teams through the introduction of various software like email CRMs, quote source software, reporter databases and the way that businesses can measure their ROI from PR.
When adding SEO into the equation, digital PR offers businesses the potential to capitalise on improving keyword rankings and organic search traffic. Used correctly, digital PR can supercharge your rankings.
Earned Media digital PR solutions
At Earned Media, focussing on achieving the unachievable is core to our ethos. We believe that if 99% of SEO agencies can get the same link, it’s probably not valuable. So we focus on the 1%, which makes what we do quite different.
We’ve built links on some pretty big sites like:
- The Next Web.
- Snack Nation.
- Dive In.
- Business Insider.
- Plus a lot more …
Want to learn more? We’ve helped plenty of businesses, and we can help your business too. Schedule a quick 15-minute call with Nick Brogden, the founder of Earned Media, by clicking on the blue button in the right-hand corner. It takes just 30 seconds to set up a meeting.
Digital PR can consist of a variety of media forms, such as:
- Blog content and articles.
- Social media shares.
- Videos (e.g. YouTube, TikTok, Vimeo, Twitch).
- Online podcasts.
- Advertisements (both traditional plus digital) if they get people to talk about them online.
The primary reason why businesses use digital PR is to enhance their online presence and brand awareness. As this strategy networks with journalists, bloggers and influencers, it provides you with high-quality battlings and improves your SEO and can result in an increase in website traffic.
Digital PR is primarily focused on acquiring high-quality backlinks to support SEO strategies. The most common strategy is creating a linkable asset and then outreaching out to respected journalists, bloggers and influencers to generate stories about your brand.
Digital PR helps your brand become a thought leader in your industry by developing informative and engaging content for your target audience. Creating content that people love to hear establishes you as an expert in your field while enhancing your brand’s visibility.
Digital PR focuses on generating brand awareness and improving the public opinion of your brand. On the other hand, digital marketing identifies the target audience and converts them using different online promotion strategies such as Facebook ads, Google ads, and remarketing.
Digital PR provides brands with a large volume of high quality and high authority links and significant traffic from publications. When used in conjunction with technical SEO, it can be powerful. It is an excellent strategy to increase domain authority, create brand awareness, generate sales, and improve a business’s keyword rankings.
Founder of Earned Media. Nick specialises in SEO and he has been working in the industry for over 12 years. He is a recurring digital marketing expert guest on Kochie’s Business Builders on Channel 7 network TV. Nick is a member of the Entrepreneur Leadership Network and regularly contributes to many top business publications. Nick has also guest lectured on SEO and content marketing at the University of Technology Sydney.