How to put the ‘digital’ into digital PR

23 Nov 2018

Brands these days want it all – and, in a world with only increasing noise, you can’t exactly blame them. Most new business briefings we receive at Sinclair are no longer limited to the traditional PR scope of work, but now often extend to social media management, KOL and influencer marketing and, more and more often ask for digital services that tap into the technical side of SEO to generate publicity for a brand. So how do we, as PR practitioners, put the ‘digital’ into digital PR?

‘Traditional PR’ usually covers tasks like brand awareness, brand advocacy, brand messaging, press release writing, acting as a press office, staging press conferences and more. But there are multiple ways that we can consider adding digital elements even to these traditional touchpoints. Consider a unique hashtag in a press release headline, a carefully crafted photo moment at a press event, or even a QR code at a press conference for media to download the relevant press release and high-resolution images while on-site to ensure stories are published faster. My personal experience is that by the time you wrap up your event, go back to the office and insert the event images into a release, you probably would have already seen the first story or two published online. All these tactics, which are already being implemented, are just some of the ways in which PR has gone digital.

As PR practitioners, we build valuable relationships on behalf of clients to maximise opportunities for the generation of positive stories on reputable and popular media platforms. Today’s media professionals work with an integrated approach, much like PRs – a story is published both online and in print. But how are we able to make the story visible to our target audience? How can we make the content created via our PR efforts appears on the first page of a Google Search? This is where it gets a little more technical.

First of all, we need to understand that there are multiple reasons for an organic article ranking at the top of a Google Search result – usually, it’s a piece of high-quality content or it comes from a popular website. Content and click rate are just two important factors that can make a particular search result rank higher.

Here are some tips on how to execute an SEO-driven strategy:

  • Keywords: Identify a set of keywords for the brands to associate with. Valuable keywords should not be too generic or specific – you’re looking for a sizable search volume. Keywords can include product names, key people or industry-related terms.
  • Engagement: Identify the right media platforms with authoritative domains and KOLs to create long-form content that will best align with and communicate your brand messages
  • Follow the SEO guidelines: Write your piece of content based on SEO guidelines – does your content title and the lead-in include the target keywords?
  • Quality over quantity: Content is king. Quality content can absolutely help search ranking and increase authority. Be authentic and stay relevant.
  • Driving traffic: Use every channel available to create click through to (that is, get eyeballs on) your content
  • Less is more: Avoid posting the same content on multiple platforms to avoid mirror pages. Instead, try and tailor your content to each platform to retain authenticity

How do we measure success though, and how long will a high ranking last? The outdated metric of PR value or AVE does not reflect the outcome of digital PR efforts – in fact, this should not be a KPI at all as it in no way reflective of the outcome of our work (read more about the AMEC Measurement Framework). There are more than 100 ranking factors in Google, and search results can be quickly and easily changed and replaced. Therefore, it’s important that you work towards agreed KPIs and capture results at the right moment. Other channels that contribute to link clicks that should be taken into account when it comes to measurement include likes, shares and comments on social media posts.

But remember, in the digital world it is still critical to apply the critical PR skills such as well-crafted emails, friendly phone calls or even a cup of coffee with a journalist. If it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it – but it never hurts to add to our PR toolkit.

Remember, in the digital world it is still critical to apply the critical PR skills – but it never hurts to add to our PR toolkit

By Holly Chan
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