Updated January 2016
Digital PR is a blend of traditional PR and technology. With Digital PR you can reach and engage your audiences wherever they are online and on any device they use. It makes it possible for your message to be found online and shared on social media. Digital PR is about relationships and conversations, not just broadcasting content.
Digital PR and Social Media are often thought of as the same thing, but social is just one part of Digital PR. Just as media relations is a big part of traditional PR, but not the entirety of the discipline, social media is one technique among many used in Digital PR.
PR – offline or online – is about building brand awareness, credibility and goodwill. It’s about building a presence, delivering the right message to the right audience and gaining the understanding and support of your stakeholders.
PR has always been about creating a favorable operating climate for a company or organization. Digital PR is no different. It’s about building that presence online, understanding the digital landscape you operate in and developing strong relationships with all the players in your social graph.
Techniques of Digital PR
Digital PR covers all the techniques used in traditional PR with some new areas added:
- Research – monitoring online conversations and data mining
- Strategy & Planning
- Audience identification
- Stakeholder relations
- Employee relations
- Influencer Relations
- Blogger relations
- Media Relations – Digital PR requires the ability to do this online
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content development – and in Digital PR this includes visual content
- Development of websites and online newsrooms
Social media and consumer-generated content can have a rapid effect on your reputation – both positive and negative. Understanding SEO (search engine optimization) is not just a vital skill for PR practitioners today – it’s crucial.
Should an online crisis hit your business the event itself will be bad enough, but the aftermath of the negative content online can extend the effect of the crisis well into the future. Every time someone does a search for your company’s name that pesky negative content will show up. Search engines index content on relevance. If you don’t understand how the search algorithms work and how to move that content down the rankings, it will linger like a bad fish smell.
Digital PR makes use of social media platforms, networks and tools to interact with people online and build relationships. The social media part is the content and conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. The Digital PR part is the support functions needed to make those conversations relevant and effective – research, social audits, identifying influencers, developing and distributing the content.
The demand for visual content is growing rapidly and is shows no signs of slowing down. Part of Digital PR today is adding visual content to the PR mix – images, videos, infographics. These are new skills for most PR folk, even recent graduates. Few schools are including visual content production and distribution in their curriculum. You need to know how to use your phone and your tablet to take great photos, make interesting images and produce quick videos that enhance a news story.
Monitor and Measure
Another new area for PR people is measurement. We’re not used to monitoring conversations and tracking everything. In the digital world it is possible to track everything and there are many affordable tools you can use:
- Facebook Insights
- YouTube insights
- Twitter Analytics
- Open Site Explorer
- Google Analytics (Read SAMS Teach yourself Google Analytics in 10 minutes and Avinash Kaushik’s blog)
- Sendible Dashboard
Digital PR is not so different from traditional PR – the goal is to create an online presence that correctly reflects who we are, what we stand for and what we do. The aim is to reach and build relationships with our stakeholders, so we can develop and foster that favorable operating climate. We use a number of techniques to achieve that. Social Media is just one of them.
If you have not yet mastered the new skills needed to succeed in Digital PR, start with this free email course on the 15 Essential Digital PR Skills you need in 2016. If you’re looking for an agency to help you, make sure they are experienced in Digital PR, not just traditional PR.
A good digital PR Agency will be skilled in all these areas.