What is Digital PR and why do it?
PR is often misunderstood, by both individuals and businesses, who don’t necessarily see what the benefits of undertaking public relations activity are, or what they could be. Traditionally, public relations has been the discipline of promoting your product, service, brand or business by using methods of mass communication, such as newspapers or magazines. In the modern era, many people talk about ‘Digital PR’, which again relates to building a presence, but using online channels to do so. The issue here is that the line between ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ PR has become so blurred, they are now one in the same.
Unfortunately, there are some ‘traditional’ PR agencies and professionals out there who refuse to acknowledge or make an effort to understand how there is no ‘traditional’ or ‘digital PR’, there is just in fact, ‘PR’. However, newspapers all have websites, and some have switched to a digital-only approach, closing their print production altogether, and these websites have an even bigger following than the physical newspaper, with figures suggesting online readership to be anywhere between 100% and 320% more than physical copies.
So what are the benefits of PR?
- Build Brand Awareness
Arguably the primary objective of PR is to build awareness of your brand with your audience through media channels which they are engaged with. For example, this means targeting relevant industry publications read by the audience or building your profile in the local area by contributing to regional publications.
- Build a relationship with your audience
Through building awareness of your brand, you will also find the opportunity to build a relationship with your audience. This relationship between a brand and its audience is key to a brand’s success – after all, people buy from people, right? The more ‘human’ or in-touch and relatable the brand is to its audience, the better the relationship will be. In addition to this, Social Media has further enhanced the opportunity for brands to communicate and build relationships with their potential customer base.
- Increase Sales
Once your audience has an awareness of your brand and has built a relationship with it, the easier it is to sell to them, and so you are likely to be able to see an increase in sales volume. Of course, this is very much part of a long-term strategy, so don’t expect that just because you have had your brand featured in a national newspaper yesterday that sales will double today!
- Website Backlinks & Improved Search Rankings
These two aspects go hand in hand with each other, as one of the most important ranking factors is the acquisition of backlinks from credible, authoritative and relevant sources. Undertaking PR activity, such as contributing to industry-specific publications, and getting a link back to your website from them will have a positive effect on your web rankings, as Google’s algorithms will see the publication as a ‘trustworthy’ source. This is where many ‘traditional’ PR agencies miss a trick, as they fail to try and secure a link back to their clients’ website, as they are not digital marketing specialists, and therefore underestimate the value of the link.
- Easily Measurable
One of the positives of PR is that it is easily measurable. Using PR-tracking tools such as Precise (Kantar Media), or even Google Alerts, you will be able to track when and where your brand is mentioned. Similarly, if the source has included a link back to your website, this will appear in your backlink profile, which can be analysed through Majestic or Ahrefs.
Although an obvious correlation between PR and return on investment may not immediately be apparent, it can significantly increase brand awareness with your prospective customer base, and providing that your audience journey is clear, you may find that this converts into more customers.
So, there are multiple benefits to undertaking PR activity, however it is something which shouldn’t be a stand-alone strategy. Instead, it is something which compliments your overall marketing strategy, and goes hand in hand with SEO and social media.