PR is a communication strategy that builds a brand’s positive reputation with the public. Traditional PR involves building relationships with journalists and various media outlets to receive brand exposure. This tactic translates to digital PR, but the digital landscape also affords brands other ways to build their public presence outside of such relationships.
Digital PR encompasses SEO-related activities like link-building, which itself involves a number of different tactics. However, there’s more to the strategy than that. A common term in content marketing is “storytelling,” and this concept can be applied to digital PR as well. Your goals are to shape your audience’s understanding of who your brand is, what you have to offer, build positive relationships, boost website traffic, improve search rankings, and ultimately increase sales.
While digital PR is still an emerging part of digital marketing, there are various tactics that not everyone uses but should. It can be something that not only generates brand awareness but can affect your site’s overall search rankings. These are, or should be, both critical goals in your overall marketing strategy. Here are some ways to get into digital PR.
Become a Publisher
Whether you use a blog, a content hub, a podcast, or a YouTube channel to publish will depend on your business offerings and model. But it’s important to use one or more of the many available channels to share your expertise and to educate the public about your services or products. The former should be your focus while the latter can be supplemental; PR is, after all, about relationships, not straight marketing. If you’re helpful to your audience, they might turn to you next time they need something in your industry.
An easy entry into publishing online is LinkedIn—anyone with an account can publish long-form blog posts. You can use the platform to share content you publish elsewhere, but you can also use it as a standalone avenue to sharing articles with your professional network.
A few great examples of sites that publish content are Moz, Hubspot, Neil Patel, and Oh My Disney, among plenty of others. If even companies as reputable as Disney believe in publishing content, you will need to do the same if you want to compete.
Become a Contributor
This tactic mimics traditional PR in that it involves connecting with editors of online publications to pitch stories. Rather than using your own publication channels, you take advantage of the existing authority of well-established channels to gain brand exposure to their audiences. One of the other benefits of this tactic is that you’ll receive backlinks from authoritative sites, which helps you in the rankings.
Good sites to start with include HuffPost, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc., Mashable, and any highly trafficked sites in your particular industry. Use BuzzSumo to identify those sites if you aren’t familiar with them yet. Note that it’s often not acceptable to mention or link to your company in the article, but you’ll be able to put that info (and often contact info) in the author bio at the end.
Not sure how to start with this suggestion? This article explains how to become a contributor to 11 popular websites.
Build Relationships with Bloggers
If you’re networking with journalists offline, you should be networking with bloggers online (and even if you aren’t doing it offline, do this). Influencers offer built-in audiences and can become brand loyalists. They can help expand the reach of your brand as well as increase the public’s trust in your company.
You can identify influencers on specific social media platforms by searching for relevant tags, do general searches on Google to see who’s ranking for the topics important to your business, or use specific tools designed for the purpose. Find and communicate with these people before you want to use the connections: build the relationship before you ask for something. When it comes time to release a new product or launch a big marketing campaign, coverage from digital influencers will go a long way toward greater reach. Established blogger relationships can also increase your site backlinks, which boost site authority and increase your chances of higher rankings.
Manage your Reputation
Online reputation management is an important part of digital PR. You can’t control the information customers share about your brand, but you can put tools in place to respond quickly and mitigate damage.
The first step in reputation management is to set up monitoring. Google Alerts is one tool and it will notify you when someone mentions your business on social media sites and elsewhere on the web.
Next, be prepared to address negative feedback you receive. Approach negative feedback from a place of humility and don’t rush to respond before you’ve considered your words (but do be timely–if it’s a complex issue, a simple message saying you’ve heard them and are working on it will help).
Some companies have mastered the public apology—some great examples of this are mentioned on Hubspot. An apology can go a long way, and being explicit about your commitment to improving, especially in the face of repeated complaints, can repair the damage negative reviews do.
Build a Strong Social Media Presence
You know you need to be where your audience is, and they’re on social media. Other than your own site, social media is the most direct route to presenting your brand in a controlled way. Rather than using social media to promote your products or services, use it to communicate with your audience.
Social media is the perfect place for you to talk about your community initiatives, give customers a way to reach you in real time and get immediate responses without adding a live chat function to your website, interact with journalists or influencers, or make company announcements.
What’s more, social media listening is a powerful tool beyond the benefit it has for reputation management. Implementing social media listening can help you gain valuable customer insights, identify influencers, and spot trends.
Give an Insider View of Your Company
This tactic gets back to the storytelling part of marketing. Not every business has an interesting backstory, but many do. People like to do business with other people. This tactic is best executed with a visual medium such as a video or photo shoot.
What don’t your potential customers know about your brand? Your great employee benefits, the story behind your logo, or the quirky passion your president has could be the hook a potential customer needs to try you out. You certainly aren’t the only business offering what you offer, but your passion for your product or service can make you stand out.
Measure the Results
One of the benefits of digital PR as compared to traditional offline PR is the opportunity for measurement and analysis. The information you learn in this step is a valuable guide to your future PR moves. Use Google Analytics or Moz Open Site Explorer, and choose KPIs for campaigns ahead of time. Here are some ideas for what to measure.
This is not an exhaustive guide to digital PR, but if you aren’t doing these things yet, it’s time to start. If you are, good job! There’s more out there for you to do, but make sure you can stay strong with these tactics before expanding.
Latest posts by Morgen Henderson (see all)
- Digital PR: What You’re Missing Out On & How to Fix It - December 5, 2018
- Content Marketing: Use a Robot to Create Your Content - September 10, 2018