What is Digital PR? Your Top Questions Answered.

From the rise of social media to streaming services like Netflix, audiences have been given the means and opportunity necessary to define their own consumption preferences, thus launching a very new, complex media environment.

With the creation of this new atomized and in many ways fractured media world, there has been an increased urgency to figure out how we can develop marketing programs within these new channels. Because of this, there has been an equally large divergence in the agency world. With the proliferation of specialty shops like social media agencies, lead generation (or inbound) agencies, SEO agencies, and the like, many have headed the call to a new channel-centric call to arms.

While this change in the market has inspired some PR agencies to become full-fledged digital shops, others have remained much more “traditional” in nature.

So, the question for many PR agencies has become: can we still compete with digital agencies in driving forward our clients’ conversations and brand awareness?

Let me be clear – the main objective of all PR is still the same: to increase brand awareness and enhance a client’s reputation. The difference is that now we’re being challenged to re-think how we help shape conversations and drive meaningful awareness in the digital. To do so, the PR industry needs to rethink how PR functions and what tools we have at our disposal to achieve these goals going forward. Say “hello” to Digital PR Services.

So, what is “Digital PR” anyway?

Simply put, Digital PR is the use of digital channels and tactics to complement and supplement media relations and brand communications strategies. When done right, Digital PR elevates the brand message and drives online engagement through referral traffic from external sources leading to the brand’s website.

Easy, right?  Well, here’s where it gets a bit interesting. There are a number of different views on what Digital PR is comprised of, including strategic approach to differentiating tactical options.

To get a better picture, let’s look at how Digital PR compares to digital marketing.

How Does Digital PR Compare to Digital Marketing?

Truthfully, most agencies tend to include almost any digital marketing tactic in their definition of Digital PR, simply due to the fact that they may have strengths in a number of digital areas. Some of these include:

Looking at this list, you’ll notice that as comprehensive as it is, there is neither any clear direction nor indication as to how they complement PR strategies designed to manage relationships with a brand’s audience.

So, for that reason, if we’re looking to increase brand awareness and enhance a client’s reputation through PR strategies, then your options are far more defined, being:

  • Influencer and media relations
  • Social media (including paid)
  • SEO / Blogging
  • Contributed content
  • Sponsored content
  • Grassroots efforts

So, what do each of these disciplines have in common that makes them a more natural fit into our definition of Digital PR? Each of these relies on external third parties as a source of brand validation and relationship building. Let’s break each one down:

  • Influencer relations
  • Social media (including paid)
  • SEO/ Blogging
  • Sponsored content

 

With all this said, how do we measure success?

Similar to digital marketing, utilizing the tools and dashboards available to us such as Google Analytics are going to be key here. By measuring your website hits, tracking their sources and understanding how your audience engages with your brand on social through growth and engagement, you’ll be able to get a sense of how our brand strategy is making an impact.

That said, the real challenge is not in finding and identifying your data; it’s in the purposeful selection of appropriate KPIs to judge success. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Influencer and media relations
    • Engagement level per post
    • Comment sentiment
    • Traffic from influencer page
    • Post shares
  • Social media (including paid)
    • Channel growth
    • Engagement levels
    • Traffic from social channels
    • Specific actions taken, such as downloads
  • SEO/ Blogging
    • Domain authority changes
    • Website traffic from organic search
    • Keyword ranking
    • Organic search traffic engagement
    • Number of inbound links
  • Sponsored content
    • Impressions and number of visits to content
    • Clicks on associated media such as banner ads
    • Comments
    • Traffic to website
  • Contributed content
    • Impressions and number of visits to content
    • Comments
    • Traffic to website
    • Social media shares

 

Ok, I get it. But where to now?

Before looking for a strictly Digital PR program, start to think about how your larger PR goals may fit into the digital ecosystem. What are some of the audience goals, where do those audiences go for information and how do they consume content?

Each of these key considerations should give you a good picture as to how to fit digital into your overall PR strategy.

Should you have any questions, or if you’d like more information on Digital PR and how we can help, send us a note!