When most people think of public relations (PR), they often picture a publicist who crafts press releases and attempts to place them in newspapers and industry-specific publications by reaching out to their contact list for that industry. Decades ago, this is exactly what PR was. It was all about building successful relationships with the press, journalists, editors, and other influencers, so that press releases, radio segments, and TV commercials got picked up and distributed.
Public Relations Evolving in the Digital Age
While traditional PR tactics are still used by many agencies across the world, Digital PR allows businesses to manage their brand’s digital footprint through a wide range of online brand management techniques.
Digital PR encompasses many online marketing strategies to control how a brand is presented online and boost visibility.
In fact, Digital PR is the key to success for both individuals and businesses who want to protect their reputation on search and social media, gain and retain customers, and stay ahead of the competition in the search results and assets. Without it, it can be a real challenge to thrive in today’s digital era.
What Really is Digital PR?
So, what exactly is Digital PR? At its core, Digital PR uses the following strategies and tactics:
- SEO (Search engine optimization)
- Social media
- Content marketing
- Web development
- Digital press releases
- Review platforms
- Podcasts and videos
- Influencer campaigns
- And, more
to control your brand image, build an online presence and increase brand awareness. While you may see some success with a press release that gets picked up by a popular newspaper, this strategy just isn’t enough because consumers simply live and breathe search results and social opinion.
Here’s why: CONSUMERS ARE DIGITAL & CONSUMERS ARE SMART. You and most of the people you know use the internet to make informed decisions. When consumers are researching people, products, services, surgeries, foods, recipes, you name it, they suddenly become detectives with the power to look into every aspect of your brand.
Example 1: Let’s say you are researching personal injury lawyers for your loved one who has just been in a car accident and find a few different attorneys that look like good candidates, but you decide to pick back up your search tomorrow. The next day, you decide to search the personal injury lawyer that you saw on a billboard on the highway earlier: Stan Smith. When searching Stan Smith, you notice his website is ranking on the front page toward the bottom, but he has no reviews on Google, his Facebook has no activity, and he’s mentioned in an article posted from 2013. You suddenly feel apprehensive and go back to the online research you were doing yesterday. This is a prime example of CONTROLLING your brand presence as an individual and a brand in the search results by utilizing Digital PR.
Example 2: Let’s say you want to plan a beach vacation in Cancun for your family. What do you do? Chances are you take out your smartphone or laptop and search for various resort options online. You look at Google’s search results, read reviews on social media or trip advisor, do an image search on Pinterest… you know the drill.
Then, once you find a few resorts that pique your interest, you most likely visit their websites and social media pages to make a final decision and perhaps even ask your friends on social media. The resort with the nicest website, best reviews, most active Facebook and Instagram page, and engaging videos will take the cake. The resorts with outdated websites, no social media presence, inactive social media accounts, and/or poor reviews are unlikely to get your business.
Why Traditional PR Isn’t Enough On Its Own Anymore
Since digital platforms drive consumer decisions and opinions, attorneys, resorts, and ALL brands simply can no longer rely on one radio ad or a well-written article in a magazine. To thrive in today’s increasingly competitive market, a strategic Digital PR strategy that creates a cohesive brand experience on all platforms is a necessity.
After all, consumers trust what they see online far more than what they read in a print publication or watch on television, if they ever get the chance to consume it. They believe articles they see in Google’s search results, social media pages with a ton of followers and fans, positive reviews by REAL people, and influencer campaigns by someone who is rooting for your brand. These are authentic and trustworthy ways to control your brand image.
Traditional PR & Digital PR Can Certainly Work Together
We’re not saying a 15-second ad on the radio isn’t going to get your brand influence. We’re saying that the first thing a user does in our digital age, is look you up on Google, Facebook, and other digital platforms, and you need to control what results are shown.
Digital PR tactics include SEO, content marketing, syndicating digital press releases, to control what your brand looks like in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Controlling search appearance isn’t good enough either. Once brands capture clicks, the need for superior website development comes into play as you don’t want users to click away to an outdated website that isn’t mobile-friendly or has a poor user experience.
Additionally, by keeping social media profiles active and boosting social media presence brands can boost followers to prove credibility and spark positive reviews for their brand.
Digital PR encompasses Every. Single. Moment. Of your brand.
Digital PR Builds Authentic Relationships
When it comes down to it, Digital PR creates a genuine story that builds trustworthy relationships with the public. If you are an individual or brand that people trust, you’ll receive more support from customers, stakeholders, community members, and the media. This concept of “digital trust” in your brand reputation online is what will help you move forward and succeed in 2020 and beyond.