Digital PR strategy has become a vital area of expertise for any leading PR firm, but for many brand and product managers the understanding of what exactly digital PR is, remains a point of confusion. More often than not, the first link people make is to social media, but social media marketing is not digital PR and understanding the difference is extremely important to ensure the successful implementation of a digital strategy.
Simply put, digital PR is building presence on the internet and managing online reputation for brands and businesses. This can be done through various means such as social media, websites, blogging, and online media coverage. PR practitioners have a number of different resources at their disposal when it comes to building a brand’s online reputation, and that social media forms an important part of this mix, but does certainly not define it.
Looking at the top digital PR tools, search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most effective. The objective of SEO is to improve a brand or company’s search visibility and this is done through the creation of compelling content in the form of press releases, blogs, audio and visual clips, and the like, in which key search words have been strategically included. Ultimately, SEO assists brands to build their online reputation and widen their reach.
As we’ve already mentioned, social media forms an integral part of a digital PR campaign. The main objective of social media marketing is to initiate positive interactions with consumers and if possible influential online personalities. It involves the development of online content that emphasises positive news around the brand, minimising the effect of negative publicity. However, there needs to be a significant amount of brand transparency and integrity when it comes to social media, as users will quickly pick up on content that is not authentic.
Blogging is another way to develop a greater online following. Companies that post their own blogs, develop a platform from which they can disseminate relevant content and in doing so, increase their search engine ranking.
Amongst any brand’s digital assets are video, audio and podcasts. A different format in which to produce interesting and relevant content, they too are helpful in the establishment of a greater online presence and improved search ranking. Submitting assets such as these to socially interactive sites only increases your brand’s number of entry points on the web.
Lastly, it’s important to make use of online tools that help to monitor the brand’s online image. These come in the form of Google Alerts, Social Mention and Twitter which are designed to bring any mention of your brand or company name to your attention. Not only are these tools effective in helping you to counteract negative publicity quickly and effectively, but also to identify potential brand ambassadors.
The skills, tactics and strategy which are used in digital PR are not all that different to those used in more traditional PR, and in fact they both involve creative, interesting content that communicates the brands key messaging to their target audience. It is important to understand which platforms are best utilised to meet your objectives and how they are most effectively implemented.
Lucinda Boddy is managing director of Livewired PR.