The world of digital PR (digital public relations) has changed immensely over the last decade. Your online reputation places a significant role in your business, whether you like it or not.
Understanding digital PR, and how it impacts your business, is imperative.
So let’s go through it together.
The need for a positive online presence cannot be stressed enough. Most people search for your company, product or service on Google before engaging with you. Having a positive online presence is going to help drive customers. You can achieve this with good digital PR.
There is the option to handle digital PR on your own. An example of this would be a CEO of a financial company doing an interview for a publication in the finance sector about saving money or investing.
Or a bicycle store writing an article about ‘how to service your mountain bike at home’ and then using Contento to offer it to blogs.
For those people or companies that simply do not have the time to handle their own digital PR, there are plenty of options to outsource.
The difficult part of this is that not all PR companies are created equal. A company being more expensive than their competitors does not guarantee superior work. Do your research before outsourcing your digital PR or any marketing campaigns.
Consider whether it’s best for you to run with an agency, outsource to a contractor, or do you keep it in-house?
The following information is designed to help you make these decisions.
Ever-Changing Digital PR
PR, digital marketing, and SEO (search engine optimization) have started to converge in 2019 where they had previously been separated.
SEO used to rely on generic content simply to get backlinks. Gone are the days when you could buy hundreds of backlinks and see a huge increase in search traffic. Google is much smarter now and gaming the algorithm doesn’t work. Google now de-ranks low-quality content posted on sites that are not remotely relevant.
Google now focuses on the quality of content. It rewards engaging content that holds the users attention. In 2019 we will see a move away from listicles and other generic templated articles to more substantial in-depth articles.
Digital PR relies heavily on content, coupled with SEO, to maximise reach. Website editors have become more discriminating when it comes to the content that they publish. A catchy headline like “5 Tips To Get a Promotion” could get some clicks, but holds little value to the publication if readers exit if the tips are just common sense.
Outreach via email has become increasingly important as the days of a PR professional being glued to their phone trying to speak with editors of magazines are long gone. Editors are swamped with content requests and most emails, including press releases, are sent to trash before opened. Nowadays digital content placement is pay-to-play. You’re either paying for the placement directly or paying for the editorial by buying ads.
We will also see more emphasis on reviews. To search engines, the quality of your products and services will be determined by customer reviews. These reviews will hold more significance in your rankings.
The changing world of PR
Digital public relations is an ever-changing beast. Many of the old tactics have now lost their effectiveness, like bulk-sending press releases, as we mention below.
Previously, advertisers were the main source of income for print and digital publications. Nowadays advertising saturation has dramatically devalued ad placement leaving most publishers looking elsewhere for revenue.
The emphasis is now on remuneration for any kind of content placement or social mention.
The times have moved on from when a free product could get you free placement.
Editors are spoilt for choice when it comes to content ideas. Turning your press release into a worthy article is going to take time, but who’s paying for that? Publications are looking for quality articles from real brands that are willing to pay for placement.
For this reason, businesses and agencies should be focusing on custom content instead of mass press releases. Individual articles will cost more to create, but when it comes to content; the more you put in the more you’ll get out.
Publishers might be willing to reduce their publishing fee if the content is high quality enough and they believe will attract a healthy amount of traffic.
PR will continue to morph as online marketing is constantly changing with a focus on higher and higher quality content being produced.
How Digital PR Has Changed (Press Releases are the new spam)
Press releases are now looked at as generic, advertorial and even spammy. Consumers are discerning with what they spent their time reading. They have access to content in a variety of forms, from a vast number of platforms at any given time. If there is no real value to the reader, there’s no point in them spending time on it.
Many publishers will simply copy and paste bulk text from press releases not understand how a Google can penalize pages with duplicate content. Press releases take a considerable amount of time to convert into a unique and compelling article. Unless there is some sort of remuneration to the publisher, they are not going to put the resource into doing that.
Nowadays, media is pay-to-play. Content placement is valuable and if you want to guarantee placement you should consider how your paying for that value.
The ability to send out a press release to many editors at once seems like an efficient way to get your story in front of media. Most of these end up either being ignored or binned. You’ll have better results simply offering high-quality articles to media.
Make as easy as you can for the editor and they will love you. Give them a unique article, along with some remuneration, and you’ll almost guarantee your placement.
How Technology Has Changed Digital PR
Technology has changed digital PR in a variety of ways with tracking of campaign data coming out on top. Unlike traditional PR, where it can be difficult to track results, digital PR allows tracking of all kinds using a number of tools and services.
Different metrics associated with websites have changed in importance according to the changes in Google’s search engine algorithms.
Search engines have changed the way we search, find and evaluate companies, products and services. They are the first place most of us turn to. So keeping on top of the algorithm changes is imperative.
We are spending a lot more time online. This has increased the need for digital PR.
Decreasing the impact of any negative associations with your brand by pushing down negative search results is crucial. The last thing that people want as their first impression on a person or potential business partner is the person seeing mistakes that have been made first rather than positive content on the company or person.
Over the last decade, a lot of digital PR effort has been spent in engaging and coaxing brand awareness through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
These platforms are a great way to promote and share content either through your own profile or through others.
Enter influencer marketing.
Utilizing people of influence isn’t new. Companies have been sponsoring sports stars and celebrities for decades. But now with social media, companies can target and pay for product placement with influential people based on their followers. Instagram changed the way PR agencies and brands use influencers.
Artificial intelligence will also start to make a larger difference in these campaigns. Machine learning can pick up on trends at a much higher rate than a human would be able to. AI can be used to analyse brand sentiment and alert PR agents before issues arise.
How To Do Your Own PR
There are plenty of reasons to do your own PR as a company or an individual. For most businesses, getting brand or product awareness is their main PR priority.
Brand awareness involves working with media and bogs to mention or write about your company, product or service.
Media placement is great for a number of reasons.
- You’re getting your brand in front of a new audience.
- You’re being endorsed by the media. This is also known as ‘social proof’ and is incredibly important for brand authority.
- Driving hot leads from a targeted audience to your product or service.
Creating engaging content is the most important aspect of doing your own PR. Editors want value-adding content that teaches or entertains their audience. Consumers aren’t going to spend time reading an article that doesn’t have any real value for them. So refrain from writing advertorial guff solely focusing on your product or service. Think about what makes your writing unique, what can you teach people that others can not?
While it’s easy to outsource your digital PR to an agency, most of the time you’ll get better results if you do it yourself. No one knows your company and industry as you do. No one else truly understands the needs and pains of your audience. You are the best person to write engaging content that will drive real sales.
Doing your own digital PR isn’t hard. Accessing media is the only real hurdle and that can be taken care of by Contento. Contento is a web-app that gives you access to a vast array of media and blogs. You can simply offer your article to the media and have them placed within minutes. Contento makes media placement super simple and costs much less than going through a PR agent.
What To Look For In A Digital PR Agency
If you do decide to outsource your digital PR to an agency, it’s best to select one that understands the basics of SEO as well as traditional PR strategies.
Unfortunately, they’re plenty of these PR agencies that rely on working with clients that are unfamiliar with digital PR. The most important thing that a company can do when vetting an agency is asking for results that they have garnered from another client in a similar niche.
Refusal to show these results can be a warning sign as most companies are more than willing to show results of their work.
Traditional PR has changed dramatically over the last decade. Technology has forced PR agencies to learn digital strategies, however, a lot still don’t understand the value of backlinks.
Backlinks are links from media and blogs back to your website. They act as a ‘vote of confidence’ and help search engines understand that your content is valuable. So looking out for agencies that understand the value of backlinks is important.
Taking a look at the company’s history is also important as many companies in digital marketing as a whole have rebranded due to issues they have encountered with Google.
Ask about the process that the PR agency goes through to get content placed on related publications. Unethical tactics can lead to Google penalizing a company’s website and in extreme cases deindexing it from search results completely.
Asking if the agency is willing to track their work with a time tracking software is imperative as well. If an agency wants to charge hourly then it is important that they have full transparency to make sure the PR campaign is being billed appropriately.
The best way to find a reliable digital PR company is that of asking for referrals on LinkedIn or through an email blast. Most of those in your professional network will not be willing to tarnish their name if they do not feel that a digital PR agency they have used is up to par. Take a look and reach out to certain contacts that the agency has listed as happy clients. This can help legitimize endorsements and recommendations that the company has earned.
Digital PR is going to continue to be important in the digital age as a part of a marketing campaign. Take the time to define the goals of one of these PR campaigns then start creating a strategy. Creating a strategy before goals are defined can lead to time wasted and the scope of the project changing multiple times.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Carl Thompson
17 years of playing in the digital marketing space. Over that time Carl has worked with many companies, created a clothing label, and co-founding tech companies Tradegecko.com, Bronami.video, and Contento.marketing
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