Digital PR, in the last few years, has disrupted the mainstream public relations landscape.
PR campaigns are all about creating buzz, but this particular disruption has had little buzz about it. And now, as we enter an era of digital-only-everything, digital PR has become a buzzword no marketer or business wants to stop talking about.
Digital PR, in this sense, has been a great leveller.
Today, even the smallest of businesses and youngest of start-ups can invest in digital PR to expect and achieve good returns. In this post, we will break down the concept of Digital PR, what features it brings to the table and how it generates a significant ROI for your business.
As always, PR companies and marketers have found ways to come up with convoluted definitions that do everything but answer the straightforward question.
Take this – coming from the Public Relations Society of America – for example. They define Public Relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”. Digital PR, as far as they are concerned, is the digital-equivalent of the same concept.
All is good – except that this definition doesn’t tell the full story. In fact, digital PR differs from traditional PR on so many accounts that we might have to create a whole new post to talk about the differences.
Coming back to the point, let’s define Digital PR in a simpler and more inclusive way.
Digital PR is a measurable effort made by businesses and individuals to improve their online presence by collaborating with relevant content creators and authority publishers.
In other words, digital PR allows your business to leverage the popularity, trust value and domain-goodwill of digital media, authority websites/publications and individual content creators. At HQ SEO, we have devised an original digital PR methodology that helps our clients achieve impressive, industry-leading ROI on PR spend. You can get in touch with us here to request a free proposal.
Let’s break down the above definition further to better understand what effective digital PR really is.
This is the most commonly misunderstood point about digital PR.
Many businesses have the habit of including any and every online mention they receive under one big digital PR umbrella. A high-authority website letting you guest post is a good example of digital PR, but a passing mention of a not-so-important page on your website by a rookie blogger most certainly isn’t.
As a business trying to improve your online presence, you should never be too excited about accidental backlinks or unimportant mentions. They, in most cases, do nothing but give false positives to skew your PR metrics.
That brings us to the next point.
Improving your online presence should always be a default rider on every single digital PR campaign. Generating high-authority backlinks is at the very heart of digital PR, and a good digital PR campaign never strays off this course.
This is better explained with an example.
Let’s say your business sells innovative educational games and toys for kids. If you get a glowing reference in a mainstream online parenting magazine, that’d be a massive PR success. But it will also be a massive digital PR success only when they include quality backlinks with relevant anchor text to drive traffic to your website. If they don’t, your digital PR campaign will only create a bit of buzz that will, in time, die down.
Of course, this isn’t to say that such efforts always go down the sink. The point here is, every single penny you invest in digital PR should keep giving you returns over a long timeline.
An effective digital PR campaign always tries to collaborate with relevant and high-authority publishers.
This, again, boils down to the type of your business. Barring exceptions like general press releases and non-specific announcements, digital PR campaigns should stick to working with high-authority publishers in the same industry.
Now that we have seen what digital PR is, let’s take a look at some examples to see how it works.
A business trying to launch an innovative/disruptive product or service can work with popular media publications and websites to get the word out.
For example, Coinbase – a popular and somewhat controversial – blockchain business released this news article on Forbes.com to announce a new, first-of-its-kind payment processing service. This digital PR campaign works because:
Using relevant authority publications is a sure-fire way of getting a good return on your digital PR budget. This approach works really well for businesses that operate in a highly specific sector.
For example, take this article contributed by Mitsubishi Electric to ArchPaper.com.
ArchPaper.com may not be a name familiar to general public, but it holds a good deal of traction among architects and designers. By choosing this channel for digital PR, Mitsubishi Electric received valuable backlinks and promoted their technology to only those who may want to use and buy it.
Writing a guest post is an incredibly effective way of adding a personal, more intimate dimension to your digital PR campaign. At HQ SEO, we firmly believe that guest posts are the best starting point for all digital PR campaigns. To know more about how we build successful digital PR and marketing campaigns around guest posting, you can reach out to us here.
A good example of this point is this guest post penned by Clear Green (an insurance comparison website) for BritainOutdoors.co.uk (a popular micro-niche blog). The post discusses what horse trekking is and where you can do it. In the post, they have ‘plugged’ their horsebox insurance service in a completely natural and organic way. This does three things:
This is where the fine line between digital PR and marketing gets blurred (we will compare the two right after this). Businesses can use the social trust and goodwill of ‘influencers’ to reach their PR goals.
The above YouTube video by BuzzFeed features two of their most popular creators. At 27 million views and counting, this video has already created enormous social media buzz for the three Las Vegas food joints it covers. The takeaways from this example are:
Earned media is the publicity you get because of the quality of your services or products.
Think about online reviews, referrals, opinion pieces, blogs and articles you never paid for – they all count here under one roof. Earned media is usually a by-product of all other PR and marketing campaigns.
Earned media can also be used as an indirect KPI for your marketing efforts. It’s a good way of noticing – not measuring – the real effects of all marketing campaigns. All this attention to earned media is thanks to two reasons – people tend to trust earned media more than any marketing channel, and earned media assets offer phenomenally better conversion rates (5%) than paid advertising (1%).
The differences between digital PR, digital marketing and SEO are so subtle that you’ll often find digital PR agencies combining these departments. All our services, for example, are carefully developed to be consistent with and complementary to digital PR. This avoids any potential overlaps and conflicts, and, in turn, saves our clients money. Moreover, this is the best way to collectively measure the results of all campaigns.
You can know more about our services by getting in touch with us or requesting a free proposal at the end of this page.
The differences between digital PR, digital marketing and SEO can be summarised in two points:
The main objective of digital PR is raising brand awareness while creating backlinks. Digital marketing, on the other hand, can be geared towards a range of specific objectives – from generating leads to selling products.
Unlike these two, SEO concerns itself only with bringing in more organic and social traffic to a website.
Digital PR uses only a handful of specific channels (discussed in the earlier point). Digital marketing can use any and every channel available – from PPC ads to social media promotions.
SEO doesn’t need to use any ‘channels’, per se. It works with the on and off page quality as a function of dozens of metrics. An effective digital PR campaign walks hand in hand with SEO.
Digital PR is fabulous for businesses across the board – that’s well and fine.
But what about the returns? How does a digital PR strategy make you money?
Digital PR is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding investments a business can make. As a business hopeful of investing in digital PR, you should remember that a major share of ROI comes indirectly and can be measured with regular KPIs.
Here’s how an effective digital PR campaign provides an attractive ROI and makes your business money:
We’ve already seen how brand awareness is the common objective for most digital PR strategies. When your business is featured in a reputed, widely followed and relevant online publication, it reaches thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people from well-defined and well-targeted demographics.
Brand awareness is not an abstract idea – it’s an important metric that is directly related to sales performance.
This is a tangible and clearly measurable return on your digital PR spend.
When you get a PR hit in an online publication, it brings in visitors directly to your website or landing page. If our extensive experience in digital PR and content marketing is anything to go by, you can rest assured that such referral traffic is rich in people who are interested in knowing more about you, learning more about what your business does and potentially becoming your customers.
Digital PR can complement and fuel your lead generation campaigns at much, much lower costs. Who, after all, would mind getting cheap, consistent and pre-sold leads?
This is where digital PR enters the SEO territory.
Every ‘good’ backlink your digital PR campaign scores from an authority publication has long-lasting positive effects. As search engines start realising that your business is cited by top news media, publications and blogs, it exponentially improves the authority of your own domain.
This has a sort of ripple effect on the overall SEO quality. As the authority of your domain and the quality of its backlinks improve, your website keeps rising through the ranks. Better search rankings mean more organic traffic, more leads, and, of course, more sales!
Source: Customer Thermometer
This part of digital PR ROI, non-measurable as it may be, is massively important – particularly for small and local businesses.
Getting a PR hit on the website of a national daily can skyrocket the trust people have about your business and brand. This, over time, positively influences customers to give you – you guessed it – higher returns on your PR budget.
This benefit of digital PR is similar to traditional PR.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this post, it’s this: Digital PR makes public relations accessible, measurable and effective.
Gone are the days when only big-ticket brands could afford or even think of doing PR. Also gone is the air of exclusivity PR agencies had about them. Today, it’s much less about having newsroom friends or boardroom contacts, and a whole lot more about executing strategies that work.
At HQ SEO, we know how to make digital PR work for our clients. Many of our services are, in fact, geared around this very objective. To know more about how our expertise can help your business, get in touch with us. You can also request a free proposal below.