PR is PR, isn’t it, whether it’s printed or online?
Well, sort of. If you’re baffled by what makes digital PR different from what you’ve been doing before, or you’re not entirely sure if you’ve been taking full advantage of it, you’re not alone.
What is traditional PR?
Traditional PR is what businesses are used to: press releases, statements, magazine features and comment opportunities all sought out, planned, written and disseminated to give brands exposure to their target audiences.
We might have replaced typewriters and fax machines with Macbooks but the methods of securing coverage remain largely unchanged. Printed and broadcast media is traditional PR’s bedrock.
You could be forgiven for thinking that digital PR is the same thing but for online. Indeed, even some marketers think that’s the case. But that’s not quite right, because traditional PR does encompass news websites.
So what does digital PR mean, then?
Digital PR is where traditional PR practices meet and support SEO strategies. The goal is not just to increase a brand’s visibility through media exposure, but to also build high quality and relevant links back to your website – which, in turn, helps enhance the visibility of it online through search engines.
To rank higher in search results, your website needs to have links pointing to it from a variety of authoritative sources, with news and niche informational websites being some of the most effective. To earn a link, you need to have something credible that people want to reference – a piece of unique content rich with fresh insight. Digital PR focusses on making the content famous first, adding value to the industry in hope the masses will reference and link to it.
As well as directing traffic (known as referral traffic in Google Analytics) to your pages, each link is a vote of trust to Google, denoting your website as a reliable source of information.
Four key differences between digital PR and traditional PR
i. It’s not just one channel
To achieve these links, you need specific content hosted on a landing page or blog. Creating this content is why digital PR is more of a two-pronged approach than traditional PR, which concerns the media-facing communications alone.
Digital PR requires thinking not just about the headline or hook of the story, but also giving the journalist, reporter or writer enough of a reason to link back to your website.
ii. It develops strong social signals
This multi-channel approach extends to the world of social media. Social’s influence on search rankings might be less direct but, in the modern world of influencers and social channels’ heavy draw, brands have an important role to play. Using it effectively takes serious consideration, but can be an important tool in the campaign’s arsenal.
The content and buzz created from digital PR means that coverage is much more likely to be shared on social media channels and the topics within it discussed – something far less likely to happen to articles achieved with traditional PR methods.
Digital PR is more than just someone’s opinion. It’s about creating, and drawing attention to, the insights that a whole industry or sector can benefit from. When people learn something new, or have their own thoughts confirmed by a visible expert in that field, is when they are motivated to comment, share and engage with it.
These social signals are monitored by search engines, directly contributing to your SEO impact.
iii. Digital PR is easy to measure
Traditional PR is notoriously difficult to quantify. For many years, the measure was advertising value equivalent (AVE) – what it would have cost to buy an article’s amount of editorial space as an advert. Alternatively, a publication’s circulation or audience of a website might be used. This ambiguity can cause issues, such as when a campaign’s target audience is going to be better served by coverage in titles with a lower AVE or circulation but have a precious readership for that sector. With digital PR, the quality and quantity of links achieved are key markers, with referral traffic and the impact on organic visibility being the main goals. Of course, this needs to be coupled with an ongoing SEO strategy focused on creating quality content and a solid technical foundation for your site.
iv. Use both to maximise exposure
Traditional PR is much more focussed on a brand’s reputation among its target audience, hence its incorporation of crisis management, thought leadership and comment opportunities on current events.
Digital PR takes a more subtle approach to brand messaging, which can be one step removed from the product or service to allow the campaign to speak more independently, be more creative or use original research. This more effectively secures links to the desired part of your website and, ultimately, improves your search visibility. For this reason, using both tactics is the best way to maximise your business’s exposure and success.
Intrigued? Visit our digital PR agency page or continue reading the following articles to learn more about digital PR: