If you haven’t generated the visibility and exposure you want for your brand, there could be a strategy missing from your campaign: digital public relations (PR).
In 2008, IKEA partnered with digital PR agency Ketchum to explore an amusing idea to increase brand awareness and boost sales simultaneously. The concept? Let comedian Mark Malkoff live inside their Paramus store for a week. Malkoff accepted the invitation, moved into a spacious bedroom at the store and posted videos of his IKEA adventures online.
Through this campaign, the furniture retail company successfully told its brand story, achieved a 5.5 percent sales increase and won prestigious PR awards. This is just one of the many stories displaying the power of digital public relations in action.
Digital PR is the practice of enhancing a brand’s reputation and online presence by tapping online solutions such as online reputation management, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing and social media. It explores the spaces traditional media cannot reach and brings brands where the people are.
But First, What Is Public Relations?
While this term has been interpreted in many ways since its formal practice began, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has put together a more modern definition:
Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
With this definition as our guide, what is public relations in more practical terms?
We can think of it as the practice of disseminating messages to influence how a company is perceived. Publicists typically do public relations marketing in two ways: spread positive messages about a company or respond to negative issues around it to mitigate the impact.
What’s the Difference Between Traditional PR and Digital PR?
How – and where – PR professionals do public relations marketing has significantly evolved over the years, thanks to the rise of digital technologies.
Before the internet and social media platforms became so widely used, PR was focused on tapping the general press. Traditional PR professionals reached audiences and managed a brand’s image using print-based publications, radio and television.
While this practice is still relevant today, publicists learned to experiment with online platforms to widen their reach, thus giving birth to digital public relations.
Digital or online PR relies on internet-based strategies to increase brand awareness and oversee a brand’s reputation. Rather than getting their clients on the front page of newspapers or releasing a radio or TV ad, a digital public relations strategy typically involves these tactics:
• Releasing a search-engine-optimized digital press release
• Scoring interviews with online publications
• Gaining high-quality backlinks from websites with high domain authorities
• Monitoring and responding to customer reviews
• Partnering with influencers to promote products or services
Digital Marketing vs. PR: Which Is Which?
Marketing and public relations in the digital realm have a few points in common: They leverage the same channels and implement similar tactics, and both increase brand awareness and sales.
Given these similarities, tackling the question of marketing vs. PR can be difficult. What makes one different from the other? How can you tell if what you’re doing is marketing or PR? And which one should you focus on?
The answer: It all boils down to the objective.
The ultimate goal of a marketing strategy is to drive sales. It requires you to identify the best audience to sell to and then employ tactics to get them to convert. Moreover, marketing involves a direct promotion of a product or service offering.
On the other hand, the aim of a digital public relations strategy is to create a positive image for a company. PR influences public opinion by crafting positive messages around the brand and dealing with crises promptly. When you practice online public relations, you are promoting the brand itself, not the product.
Pitting one against the other in some sort of marketing vs. PR debate does not make sense. Both are important, helping you grow your business in their own unique ways.
That’s why you must find ways to integrate public relations in marketing and vice versa to unlock your business’s ultimate growth potential.
Marrying Your Digital PR Strategy With Your Digital Marketing Efforts
With the digitalization of media platforms, PR has become more closely intertwined with SEO, content marketing, social media and conversion rate optimization. Considering this, it’s best to stop thinking of online public relations as a standalone field. Instead, you must explore the possible applications of public relations in marketing and, reciprocally, marketing in public relations. This mindset will help you crack the code on how to create a digital PR strategy that truly works.
Here are some ways you can effortlessly mix marketing and public relations together:
1. PR and SEO
Digital PR campaigns are run online, so they should be shaped with SEO in mind to earn higher visibility and great results. Similarly, your SEO efforts should work hand-in-glove with your publicity efforts to boost your website’s performance in search engines.
A practical example:
While your digital PR company focuses on accumulating press mentions and high-quality backlinks, your SEO professionals can assess the impact of these links on your site’s ranking. They can then work together to develop a link building strategy that generates the best coverage and SEO value.
In the end, the successful collaboration between these increases your website’s domain authority.
2. PR and Content Marketing
Digital public relations and content marketing are easy to interlink because they strive to do the same things: tell awe-inspiring stories and reach the right people. But while both deliver great results on their own, together, they can be beyond amazing.
A practical example:
A great PR specialist stays up to date with the latest marketing trends, giving your content team actionable insights on how to leverage them. On the other hand, your content marketers can give your PR team creative advice on the forms of content people want to read. Such synergy enables you to get the most mileage out of every piece you put out.
Other ways to make PR and content work together:
• Engage in guest blogging to build thought leadership in the industry.
• Get a digital press release successfully published to showcase your company on bigger platforms.
• Repurpose existing content for different platforms to help drive online visibility.
3. PR and Social Media
A lot of the work that public relations and social media specialists do intersects, so it’s best that both teams’ efforts are in sync with each other. For example, a social media team can amplify the message of a digital press release recently secured by the PR team by sharing it on social channels.
This effective collaboration can enable both teams to achieve their respective goals and take brand awareness to new heights.
Other ways to make PR and social media work together:
• Widen the reach of content published via news releases, email marketing and other PR-related means by sharing it on social media.
• Actively respond to questions and customer feedback left on social media pages to manage online reputation.
• Gather PR and social teams to brainstorm the best trends to focus on for their respective content pieces.
4. PR and Pay-Per-Click Marketing
Gaining an online PR placement is a big win in itself. However, to get more out of this achievement, make sure your mention gets a lot of visibility. This is where pay-per-click (PPC) can complement your PR efforts.
A practical example:
Through specific keyword targeting, you can put your PR message at the top of relevant search results. Keyword targeting increases your visibility, improves brand awareness and encourages a positive perception of your company.
5. PR and Lead Generation
Linking marketing and public relations in the examples above seems easy because these areas share obvious similarities. But what does PR have to do with generating leads and acquiring new customers?
Their relationship may be indirect, but your PR efforts can impact your lead generation and customer acquisition efforts. Here are just some of the ways how:
• Publicity gained through promotional efforts builds brand awareness and, eventually, credibility.
• Maintaining a great brand image helps you gain customer trust and loyalty.
• Participating in events gives you opportunities to connect with attendees, who can then turn into qualified leads.
Considering these, expertise in lead generation is also an essential factor to look for in a digital PR company. Agencies with such specialty can develop a digital PR strategy that enhances your brand’s trustworthiness and makes it easier for you to attract prospects.
4 Fast Reasons Your Business Needs Digital PR
Building a digital public relations strategy and enlisting digital PR services present numerous advantages to your business, like the following:
1. It Widens Your Reach
Getting PR placements or partnering with influencers enables you to tap the same audiences leading publications and well-known personalities already have.
2. It Boosts Your Website Traffic
Digital PR articles are like signages that point people to where you are. Since these articles bear links to your website, they easily direct audiences who want to learn more about you to your site. This quickly increases your website visitors and organic traffic.
3. It Improves Your Search Engine Ranking
Receiving mentions or links to your website from high-authority sites positively impacts your technical SEO. This, in turn, improves your domain authority and pushes you up the rankings for your target keywords.
4. It Strengthens Your Lead Generation Efforts
The positive online media coverage you secure through public relations marketing enhances your credibility. Consequently, this influences your audiences’ perception of your brand and makes them more receptive to your sales messages. When prospects trust you, nurturing them to become a lead and eventually a paying customer becomes easier.
Invest in Digital PR and Make an Unforgettable Impression
In this article, we answered fundamental questions such as “what is public relations?” and “what is the difference between traditional and digital PR?” We also covered how dedicating time and effort to digital public relations helps you widen your reach and build a positive image around your brand, which then aids your lead generation efforts.
That said, tackling online public relations on your own can be an overwhelming task because it is a multidimensional field. There is no one-size-fits-all answer on how to create a digital PR strategy. Moreover, you must find opportunities to fuse public relations and marketing according to your business’s specific needs. Successfully marrying these two areas can enhance your overall digital strategy and significantly boost your return on investment (ROI).
If you need digital PR services that help you make an unforgettable impression, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency is here to deliver. Our digital PR agency has all the answers to the burning question: What to look for in a digital PR strategist. The answer? An experienced team, up-to-date skills, a wide range of digital marketing expertise and a proven track record of success.
Get in touch today to team up with a skilled digital PR strategist and start getting your brand all over the internet.