There’s been a lot of talk among the marketing industry this week about the importance of Digital PR, and actually, what it really is.
This week, John Mueller, one of Google’s senior search analysts, engaged in a Twitter conversation and stated that he feels Digital PR (when done right) can be as powerful as technical SEO, if not more than.
Now I can imagine there were plenty of SEOs around the world who didn’t take too kindly to the comment nor the fact that this tweet is clogging up the LinkedIn feed as PRs share their excitement. But the main thing I’ve been thinking is…if we as an industry can’t agree on what it is and why it’s needed then how are brands meant to know what’s right for them?
So, I thought I’d give my perspective and try to help any brands looking at Digital PR as a potential option a little guidance on what to think about.
Firstly, Digital PR is so much more than just link building. While link generation can and often is an important part of the process and output, it isn’t the be-all and end-all.
Google is built to answer human questions – questions coming from your potential customers. So if they’re online, are you also online? Visibly online I mean, and engaging with them. Answering their questions. Inspiring them. Creating content they want to share with their friends and save in their bookmarks.
While it’s much more complex than the below explores, I think if you as a brand answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions then it’s worth having a conversation about how your brand is being activated online, and whether Digital PR tactics need adding to the mix.
Q1. Does your business rely on e-commerce?
Back in the day when I first started in this industry, the only reason you’d involve a PR team in digital, techy stuff was to build links to help the SEO strategy – by any means necessary. Thankfully I think we’ve come a long way in the last few years and now, PR teams understand a lot more about the insight going on in the background, how to use and how to report on it. Google has also progressed a lot in that time, and where dodgy links from anywhere and everywhere we’re being targeted, that is no longer the case.
The focus now is on high quality, relevant links to content that engages the audience. These links are the ones that will not only help your ranking performance, but also speak to your audience in a way they understand and build brand trust. A followed link is a gold star for your SEO profile, but even if it’s not followed, that link may drive brand engagement and even conversions! IF you do it properly.
Q2. Do your core target audiences live online?
Depending on your brand, that may not be the case. If you’re a hyper-local brand or rely on bricks and mortar engagement, Digital PR may not be the most cost effective way to market yourselves. But for the most part this will be the case – in 2020, more than 70% of people in the UK either read or downloaded online news, newspapers or magazines. Couple that with the fact that on average, people interact (swipe, type, click, tap) with their phone a whopping 2,617 times each day and you can be pretty sure that your brand needs an online voice.
Naturally you’ll consider things like social media paid ads and PPC to target exactly who you want to be in front of. But, brand awareness and trust are huge factors in whether a consumer decides to engage with you. That’s where Digital PR comes in, to make sure you have a consistent voice and are engaging with your audience in a way they relate to.
Q3. Do you want your brand activity to be more reactive?
These days, trends come and go overnight, and if you don’t move quickly enough your audience is onto something new before you realise it. Using Digital PR allows us to react quickly, whether it’s with data or expert comment, creative content or product recommendations.
For this to be successful you need to know exactly who you are as a brand. What are your areas of expertise? Who are your spokespeople? What can you say or share that nobody else can? How brave do you want to be?
Often, brands say they want to be ‘disruptive’. To make noise in a busy marketplace takes bravery and assurance, and having a smooth, reactive process in place with your agency is crucial. From designing assets to drafting comments and sourcing data, we can make sure that your brand is involved in all the right conversations before your competitors.
Q4. Do you need your brand activity to be more measurable?
It’s always been tricky to show the real value of traditional PR techniques in a tangible way. While we can estimate how many eyeballs might see an article or the value of the brand mention, Digital PR allows us to be much more detailed in our reporting.
We can look at everything from the reach, the SEO power of any links, brand visibility, the traffic and engagement metrics of any links and content, brand sentiment, and if you’re an e-commerce brand, even potential conversions. So, if your boss is asking ‘but how is this beneficial to the business?’ then perhaps looking at digital activity could be the best way forward.
Q5. Are you creating great content that nobody is reading?
One of the most frustrating things as a brand is when you feel like you’re doing everything right and still not seeing the engagement. When it comes to content creation, there’s no point writing it if nobody sees it.
We can look at social media outreach and targeting audiences that way. We can also look at either building campaigns around content to help it rank and drive traffic, or even reactive press office to share the brilliant tips and advice you’ve written. Campaigns don’t have to mean creating micro-sites and infographics and whizzy tools – often the most authentic and effective content is the expert tips, advice and suggestions you as a brand can offer.
So, if you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above and would like to have a chat about whether Digital PR could work for your brand, drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help.