How to Get Creative with Digital PR
Whether PR is done online or offline, the goal is always the same: establish credibility, build brand awareness and foster support among stakeholders. In the online arena, however, PR requires a new skill set, as well as a solid understanding of the ever-evolving digital landscape and global marketplace.
Today, public relations professionals must be able to combine traditional strategies with cutting-edge approaches in content marketing, social media and organic search in order to transform static news into engaging conversations with the target audience. In other words, digital PR should not only be used to spread a brand’s message but also to truly connect with clients.
Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial skill for PR professionals who hope to manage their clients’ reputations. If and when a crisis hits, it’s imperative to have a robust plan in place to counter the danger of negative news going viral, a situation that can have long-lasting ramifications. Without a firm grasp on SEO, it will likely prove impossible to extinguish those fires while also fueling positive customer experiences.
Indeed, SEO is no longer just about link-building and improving search rankings. It is equally about telling stories that engage consumers. Creating relevant content must be a priority.
You can’t have PR without the public and authentic interaction is a key component of successful marketing. Digital PR uses the burgeoning world of social media platforms and tools to build relationships, gauge public interest and customer satisfaction, and identify key players and influencers.
Social networks also allow for greater audience segmentation, allowing PR professionals to tailor their messages based on the particular demographics of social media sites, whether it’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
There is no shortage of digital tools available to PR professionals seeking to enhance a client’s reputation and brand recognition. Among them:
- Press releases remain an effective method of disseminating information, with a plethora of online submission services in the marketplace, including Vocus, PRNewswire, Business Wire, Cision and PRWeb.
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects PR pros with reporters and bloggers who need to find experts willing to comment on specific subjects.
- Seek or Shout, which is similar to HARO, provides an online community where public relations professionals, bloggers and journalists can share ideas, sources and research.
- FlackList is a venue where public relations managers and specialists can post news about their company or clients, including video and photos, allowing reporters to easily access information and connect with experts.
Of course, sharing information is one thing. Measuring its impact is something entirely different. Word travels at lightning speed on social networks, and what’s red hot now on Twitter is often ice cold within a few hours.
With so much chatter and volatility on social media, monitoring tools are an excellent resource for PR professionals. Google Alerts, Social Mention, Viralheat, Twilert, Topsy and Thismoment are just some of the digital options for monitoring brand mentions, industry news and other relevant information.
In PR, as in many walks of life, timing is everything. Even the most engaging and relevant content will lose much of its impact if it’s not timely. In other words, a press release about the latest trends in floral arrangements is probably going to wilt if it’s distributed on Feb. 15.
By creating an editorial calendar, PR professionals can help ensure that company information is shared in a timely manner, as well as with the reporters and bloggers most likely to find it useful.
Diane Pierre-Louis is a writer for Bisk Education and covers a variety of topics related to higher education and the workplace, including Internet marketing and social media training.