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Have you digitised your PR strategy yet?

It’s a tiresomely hackneyed idea that the internet is transforming every aspect of life and business. Yet, it has become a tiresome, hackneyed idea because it’s true. Public relations (as a discipline) is not an exception and has been variously killed and resurrected by the internet (depending on who you listen to). But PR truly has had its digital rebirth. If your organisation has a PR strategy in place, then it will most likely need to be addressing digital tactics too.

Read on to find out why.

Has your business embraced digital PR yet?

To PR or not to PR?

The media matters. What you read, hear and see in the news affects your perception of the world. If the media picks up and focuses upon a topic with enough force and focus, they can set the agenda of governments. The same goes at regional and local level, and with industry and trade media. The business press can have a significant impact upon the fortunes of a company. 

A whole slew of philosophers, thinkers and writers such as McLuhan, Bernays, Baudrillard, Debord and many others have all established the social, cultural and economic impact of the media.

In short, you need a PR strategy.

If you deal with the public or other businesses or organisations, then there is the ever present risk that your reputation and the perception of your business could be moulded and shaped by someone else. With an effective PR strategy in place, you maintain control over your company’s reputation and public perception.

We don’t mean this to be thought of just as a tool for battling the negative … Yes, an effective PR strategy will protect you from crises, mishaps and mistakes, but it will also help you get your success stories heard by the people you want to hear them. An effective PR strategy will position you and your business as thought leaders; position you at the front of mind amongst key decision makers and influencers. An effective PR strategy will get your name in the media, and keep it there.

Yes, you need a PR strategy.

So, what is digital PR?

Just as media is becoming digital first, so too is PR

Digital PR recognises the huge impact the internet and, more specifically, search engines have had upon the media and seeks to harness this to benefit your business.

At its most rudimentary level, digital PR is about gaining backlinks from high-quality websites to your website. But like anything of value, there’s a whole load of different things that go on behind the scenes!

Digital PR is about creating a story, a piece of content, a video, or interactive tool which is so compelling, so ‘clickable’ that a journalist will be willing to write about it and include a link to that piece of content which is sitting on your website waiting to entertain, inform or educate web visitors.

At its core, a successful digital PR campaign will achieve three things for your business:

  • Get you coverage in your target news/media outlets (be they national newspapers, trade journals and everything in between).
  • Improves your SEO by getting you backlinks from these news/media outlets that link to your site. These backlinks will provide benefits such as:
    • Referral traffic to your site. Depending on the media/news site in question, the story could be read by thousands of people – many of whom will click on that backlink and end up on your website.
    • Improve the domain authority of your site. Google uses backlinks to determine the ‘authority’ or quality of a website. Major news/media sites typically have excellent domain authority. If they then link to your website, some of their authority ‘rubs off’ on your website. It’s like an indication to Google – if The Guardian is linking to Bobs Builders, then Bobs Builders must also be a trustworthy, decent website. Increased domain authority also makes it easier for you to rank for your target keywords in Google. So, yeah, it’s kind of a big deal!
  • It is analytical. By its very nature, digital PR is very ‘trackable’. This means that a piece of coverage with a backlink can be tracked; when someone sees the story, clicks the link and then lands on your website and makes a purchase, you can literally measure the impact of that news coverage. Aside from generating sales, digital PR can provide you with lots of other insights. For example, you may find that visitors from some news websites behave very differently on your website than visitors from another news site. So, you can learn and adapt more effectively for different audiences.

Next, let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these three points.

  1. Coverage

Print media isn't dead, but it's not exactly setting sales figures ablaze

Like traditional PR, digital PR aims to get your business in front of relevant audiences, readers of news websites, readers of niche trade journals and anywhere else online that your target customers may spend time. Many of these online news outlets have sizable audiences. Getting your brand featured in those news outlets will enable you to piggyback those audiences and draw attention to your brand.

What kind of numbers are we talking about? Let’s take a look at several of the major online newspapers as well as some more niche trade titles (data via SimilarWeb):

  • Daily Mail – 330m per month.
  • The Guardian – 280m per month.
  • Metro – 41m per month.
  • Liverpool Echo – 17.3m per month.
  • Health Service Journal – 150k per month.
  • The Manufacturer – 60k per month.

We’re sure you’ll agree; those are some BIG numbers. Digital PR will help you get your business in front of A LOT of people. If you’re a B2B business then gaining coverage in niche, trade titles will get your brand in front of a VERY relevant audience.

Digital PR also represents an effective response to the digital-first trend of news media. Increasingly, print is being abandoned (or in the case of new media sites, not even begun). The clearest example of this trend is The Independent which became digital-only in 2016 after 30 years of publishing a print edition.

2. Improve your SEO

Backlinks from high Domain Authority sites can supercharge your website's SEO

In today’s digital-first world, if you can’t be found on Google then you pretty much don’t exist (as far as potential new customers are concerned). A huge number of purchase journeys begin on Google. So, it’s vital that you appear on page one of Google for your target keywords.

Digital PR can make it easier for your website to claim those coveted page one positions.

How?

It’s all about Domain Authority. Domain Authority is a search engine ranking score which predicts how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). The score ranges from 0 to 100, with a higher score corresponding to greater ‘rankability’.

Domain Authority is calculated using a number of factors, such as the number and quality of linking root domains and the number of total links (a website may link multiple times to your website).

If you improve your Domain Authority score, then it makes it much easier to rank higher on Google for your target keywords. And, you can improve your Domain Authority score by using digital PR to gain links from websites which themselves have high Domain Authority. As we stated earlier, by gaining links from the likes of The Guardian or the Daily Mail, some of their Domain Authority ‘rubs off’ on your website.

To put Domain Authority scores into context, we’ve set out the scores of the news outlets we listed above (data via Moz):

  • Daily Mail – 94 Domain Authority, 782k linking root domains.
  • The Guardian – 95 Domain Authority, 1.2m linking root domains.
  • Metro – 93 Domain Authority, 177.2k linking root domains.
  • Liverpool Echo – 88 Domain Authority, 53k linking root domains
  • Health Service Journal – 65 Domain Authority, 8.7k linking root domains
  • The Manufacturer – 61 Domain Authority, 8.5k linking root domains 

As you can see, a link from any of these websites will give an enormous boost to your website’s SEO. And, if your digital PR campaign is good enough, you can gain links from multiple high Domain Authority websites; truly putting you on the map. 

Not only can digital PR campaigns boost the search visibility of your website, but they can give a boost to all of your other digital marketing efforts. If you are also running a content marketing campaign (e.g. regularly blogging activity), the newly earned backlinks will help your content rank higher, gain more organic traffic and more. A higher Domain Authority (as a result of your digital PR campaigns) will also improve the performance of your paid search campaigns (PPC, Display) as Google will recognise that you are attempting to direct traffic to a website which is of a high quality.

3. It’s analytical

Like every other type of digital marketing; digital PR is awash with data. The ability to track the number and value of backlinks, the volume of referral traffic, brand mentions and conversions to sales all mean that digital PR campaigns can give you a very clear Return on Investment (RoI) figure. For marketers having to justify every pound of spend in the current climate, this is a god-send.

Digital PR can also be combined with your other marketing and sales efforts; for example, if you have certain times of the year that you need to have a sales push, a digital PR campaign can be the ideal way of generating traffic and sales via your website. And, once again, it’s immensely data rich, so you can see the effectiveness of your efforts near enough immediately.

Beyond digital PR campaigns

Aside from the core benefits detailed above, digital PR tactics can be used in a number of other ways that can benefit your business.

Digital PR for crisis comms

Is a rival firm about to launch a new product? Perhaps they’ve got a major announcement that could impact your business? Digital PR, if used intelligently, can help to get your message out into the market, diluting your rival’s message and perhaps even surpassing it.

How?

By targeting news outlets based on their domain authority.

In all likelihood, you and your rival firm will be looking to earn coverage from the same pool of media/news outlets e.g. the local general press, business press and industry specific titles… 

By focusing your coverage efforts on those outlets which have a higher domain authority than the others, you stand a better chance of appearing higher in Google for searches around your rival’s story. In the best case scenarios, we’ve managed to get our client’s story to above their rival’s big announcement; effectively diluting the rival message and positioning our client back in the forefront of the conversation.

Using domain authority to target PR efforts can have a pivotal impact on a client’s business.

Leveraging influencers for SEO

Although the main focus of the majority of digital PR campaigns is earning backlinks from high profile news and media websites, there is an emerging trend in which digital PR campaigns also seek to earn links and brand mentions from social media influencers.

It’s because influencers with sizable audiences can have an impact upon your website’s SEO:

  • Social media profiles rank in Google. Getting mentions and links from influencers can increase the likelihood that a potential customer will both discover your brand and visit your website.
  • Social media platforms are search engines. Nowadays consumer searches don’t always begin on Google. Increasingly, consumers are using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms as search engines in their own right. Incorporate influencers into your digital PR campaign and you can increase the pool of people that can discover and engage with your brand.
  • Social media is a distribution engine. When you launch your digital PR campaign, you want to make sure it’s being shared and engaged with on social media. Journalists use Twitter as a means of sourcing content/news stories. Make use of Twitter to increase the likelihood your campaign will get picked up, published – and most importantly – linked to!

Influencers and social media platforms, if used correctly, can be used to turbocharge your digital PR campaign and deliver results.

Either/or: Why not both?

Having read all of this, you may have come to the conclusion that digital PR is the future and that traditional PR will be going the way of the dodo… Not quite. Digital and traditional PR don’t have to be an either/or choice. As our (media) consumption behaviours change, the tactics to get people to consume (see, hear) what you want them to, change. 

Your overall strategy dictates the combination of methods to be deployed. We work with clients providing a mixture of ongoing ‘traditional’ PR throughout the year, alongside the tactics which deliver the difference, digitally. 

We provide what you’d expect from a three-decade strong PR practice:

  • Communication with the press and media.
  • Reputation management.
  • Organising press events and press releases (and distribution).
  • Crisis communication.
  • Public affairs activity.

With the activities not seen in the office 30 years ago… 

  • Creating stories and content that earn high value backlinks from quality news websites.
  • Outreach to influential profiles (journalists, companies, individuals). 
  • Social media management and influencer engagement.

In recent years the combination tends to be digital led but, whatever the weighting, the impact remains significant. It’s not a case of either/or; but both!

If you’d like to have a chat and find out more about how PR (whether traditional, digital or both) can deliver real results for your business, drop us a line today! rosie@kenyons.co.uk 

Digital PR is about creating a story, a piece of content, a video, or interactive tool which is so compelling, so ‘clickable’ that a journalist will be willing to write about it and include a link to that piece of content which is sitting on your website waiting to entertain, inform or educate web visitors.