The Complete Guide to Digital PR

Digital PR , SEO

Digital Public Relations (PR) is a strategy to raise the awareness of your brand in the digital space. It is becoming a more powerful way to obtain credible backlinks to help boost your website’s ranking with Google.

Digital PR and Digital Marketing can go hand in hand, but there are subtle differences. Digital PR and SEO is where StudioHawk can help you. This article aims to explain what Digital PR is, why it is an important part of your overall SEO and public relations campaign, and how StudioHawk can help you implement some good Digital PR Strategies

What is Digital PR?

Digital PR is a tactic used to increase brand recognition online. It is a strategy to get your story out into the world through press releases and publicity, and it is a way to get your content used to produce high-value backlinks to your site.

It is this last element that is now bringing Digital PR into the realm of SEO. Where people would tell you it was a marketing ploy only, using Digital PR tactics for backlink purposes, is a smart and effective way to increase your page authority, your brand outreach, and ultimately your Google ranking.

Examples of Digital PR can include:

  • Guest blog posts on other websites – this involves writing good content for a website related to yours or posting articles about topics you want traction for. You can get a writing credit and a backlink to your website.
  • Directory inclusions – adding your company’s website to a directory that lists other similar companies with services such as yours. Include a powerful and attractive blurb.
  • Press releases – great to send to journalists when you have something newsworthy to say. Feed the journalists some quotes and good information, and they can release a story for you in their publications, with the associated links back to your website.
  • Unlinked Mentions – while not as strong as linked mentions, any positive brand awareness can have people searching for your website.

Digital PR & SEO

Digital PR is growing in popularity as an SEO tactic due to its effectiveness in picking up backlinks. If you have a great story, and a linkable asset on your website, one press release, sent to enough interested parties, can get you a swathe of backlinks, and a mountain of web traffic.

This will raise your page authority in the eyes of Google, and if done correctly, this digital PR campaign can bring more customers to your website, with the potential for high conversion rates.

Why is Digital PR important to your business?

Digital PR is essential to your business for both brand awareness and SEO reasons.

Brand awareness is getting your brand out there. Think of those big stories from brands that aren’t trying to sell to you.

Nike is a big player in the Digital PR space. They produce inspirational advertising, such as their Dream Further campaign, where a ten-year-old girl steps onto a soccer pitch and imagines her international soccer career. While there was a child-sized Nike soccer shirt being sold, the real success was around 20 high-quality publications online, linking back to the campaign page. There were also close to 2 million views of the campaign on Youtube.

This, of course, converted into sales of Nike branded soccer gear and a raising of awareness. 

Traditional PR v.s Digital PR

There are some similarities between the two and some differences. Let’s look at both.

Similarities between Traditional PR and Digital PR

  • Brand Awareness – no matter the medium, both styles of PR are about raising brand awareness in a positive light.
  • Positive Messaging – Following on from above, you want to produce a positive message about your company, brand, and any products or services you may be promoting. You always want to deliver a good news story for the press to write about.

Differences between Traditional PR and Digital PR

The main differences between the two types of PR are the communication channels. 

Where Digital PR uses social media, blogs, and video platforms to get the message across, traditional PR is more into newspapers and magazines, TV, radio, and events.

Think of product launches with celebrity guests and music. Think radio ads and those advertorial articles you read in magazines. These are the traditional PR methods that have worked successfully for years and still do.

While the world may be leaning more on the digital space, traditional PR still has its place in the mix.

Different kinds of Digital PR Campaigns

There are different kinds of Digital PR campaigns which StudioHawk can run for you. Here are the three main ones, in more detail. 

Existing data campaign

This is a campaign where you have content and data, and you want it shared with the world.

Guest posting could include this kind of campaign, rewriting and refreshing an article for a new audience, or writing fresh content for products and services you already have, to generate backlinks.

What is good about an existing data campaign is, the heavy lifting has already been done. You have data and content to share already, and it is now just a process of running a digital PR campaign to make people aware of it.

Survey campaign

A survey campaign is an effort to feel the pulse of your target market. You have a product or service to solve a problem, and you want to know if your target audience would use you if they had such a problem.

The answers you find from such a survey campaign can help make changes to your solution, and it can give you some robust data and subscribers for your list.

Often this PR campaign has free samples, or gifts, to encourage people to try a product or service and to commit to the survey afterward. 

Map campaign

Map Campaigns are where you generate data and then use that data in conjunction with a map. Overlaying your data and results with a map is great for Local SEO and for ways to show off how effective your marketing and your brand are at a local level. This effectiveness can be raised to a city, state, or country level, depending on your target audience.

This is good Digital PR because journalists like a good story with some facts to back it up. If they can also talk about localised stories, then they can get a readership at a local level.

How often have you seen stories where a particular suburb has the highest rate of fish and chip consumption? Or the highest housing prices? How about the best plumbers by state? You can make a safe bet that the journalist didn’t research the story themselves but used a Digital PR campaign.

The next great thing about doing some localised Digital PR, and a map campaign, are the backlinks you get from these journalists and other articles which reference your work. Providing good data and a good story will get you good brand exposure and some quality backlinks.

How to Do Digital PR

How can you plot, plan and execute an awesome digital PR Plan? There are four main phases to a good digital PR campaign.

1. Ideation phase

Ideation is a fancy word for coming up with ideas. You need some ideas to work with, which match the topic you have and the channels you can work with.

Some great techniques to come up with ideas include:

  • Brainstorming– a group of people in a room, throwing random ideas up on a whiteboard. Nothing is off-limits until you sit back and review. It’s good to have one person herding the cats, if you will, so discussions don’t get too out of control.
  • Worst Idea– What’s the worst that could happen? This helps people realise that some ideas are good because what’s the worse that could happen? A lot of fun too. Sometimes, the worse that can happen could be exactly what you want. Think of those late-night infomercials, where something bad happens, and they provide the solution.
  • Mind Mapping– is a visual technique for introverted people or those who are averse to adding to an open conversation. Take 5 minutes to write down solutions to the problem. At the end of the time limit, someone at the front adds these solutions to the main problem. You build upon each solution outwards, linking ideas together.
  • Sketching – for visual people, or artists, sometimes drawing solutions can help. Combine this with a storyboard, and you could map out a great idea into a campaign easily. You don’t have to be a great artist. Stick figures work fine.

Don’t be afraid to mix up the ideas and research other ways to get ideas from people. Make it fun as well. If you work on something you enjoy, the work tends to be so much better.

Choose a topic that is relevant with your business

What does your market want from you? How-to guides and videos? News and current affairs? Ways you can use your product and services which are different? These are called ‘hacks’. Check out the Ikea Hacks community for crazy things you can do with regular stock from Ikea.

The better you know your target audience, your prized customers, the better you will be able to serve their content needs. On the flip side, you can also introduce something entirely new for them, which you know they’ll like and appreciate.

Check to see if similar campaigns have been done recently

Competitor research. You need to see if something similar has been done by competitors in your market or in a new market you are trying to break into.

This research is good for two main reasons:

  1. If a competitor has done an excellent job, you can emulate what they did but do it better. You already have an idea of how successful the campaign can be. Do a better job, give better incentives, get better results.
  2. If a competitor tried something and it didn’t work, you know pretty well that it is not a good idea, and you shouldn’t go down that path.

It’s also a good idea to check if a campaign has been done recently as people have good memories. If your customers see your campaign and think- didn’t so and so do that last month? The impact won’t be as significant.

However, if they remember something similar from the year before, they can feel nostalgic and want to get involved again.

 2. Create the Narrative 

A good campaign has a narrative, a story structure that a customer can latch onto or they can relate to. Through this narrative, you bring the customers along a journey to salvation, and solution, through your products and services.

Create custom designs for your campaign!

This is the part you get the crayons out. This is when you get to have fun with words and slogans, and catchphrases. 

  • What keywords do you have that can be a part of the catchphrases, the narrative you’re telling?
  • What colours are you going to use to identify the campaign? Will they be your brand colours or new colours for the campaign?
  • Do you need a designer to come in and make designs, or can you come up with something yourself?
  • Are the designs going to be memorable?

It could be argued that the creative process is the most enjoyable part of any marketing or PR campaign. Again, have fun with this stage. If you have fun, then others will have fun and enjoy it too.

 

3. Build an outreach list

This is the stage you look at what journalists are after, what the news cycles are looking like, where you can land your story.

Not every news outlet or journalist will be a good fit for your digital PR, so don’t try and send it to everyone. The more you know your networks, the better you will be at this stage.

Do your research, have a database of outlets, and what their wants and needs are. It’s also a good idea to develop relationships with journals and journalists. This can make it easier for future digital PR campaigns to get out to the public. 

 

4. Pitching phase

Now it is time to pitch your idea to the journalists, to the public. You’ve got the campaign ready to go. You have assets, such as an image, interview opportunities, graphics, and data, all ready to be shared.

It is a good idea to have all your ducks in a row by the time you send the press release out. If you get a quick response from a journalist, you need to be ready with all the details to run with your story. Do not leave them waiting for you to get back to them. The news cycle can spin pretty quickly.

 

Digital PR tools

Tools that you can use to boost your Digital PR are third-party options. Here are some of the better ones out there for you to try:

  • Business Wire – This is a website that has a reach of over 162 countries and over 100 000 media outlets, to which you can release a press release. You need to sign up to see the pricing, but considering the reach this website has and the reputation it has for worldwide journalism and news outlets, it is one of the most important tools in your Digital PR toolkit.
  • BuzzStream – This is a great little platform for research, pitching, making contacts, getting backlinks, and more. It has a free trial offer, and the basic rate is $24 per month.
    BuzzStream is very easy to use and very user-friendly. It has automatic list building, social metrics, contact information from websites, and some great automation rules.
  • BuzzSumo – Not only can you get access to influencers and marketers and content discovery, but this tool also allows you to monitor backlinks that occur thanks to your digital PR.
    Set up a Slack integration and get alerts whenever you, or your competition, acquire backlinks from campaigns. This can allow you to do a better content job than your competitors and possibly win those backlinks for yourself.

As well as these third-party sites, we also recommend using LinkedIn for relationship and network building. Finding journalists and editors there and building rapport with them is a great idea. You can publish articles under your profile and also send out press releases to your new connections. If you already have an active reader base, this could convince those editors to take on your material, as you’d have a guaranteed readership.

 

Examples of Digital PR Campaigns

If you want to see some excellent examples of Digital PR done right, check out Reboot, a digital PR company based in the UK. 

They highlight some of their best campaigns, their favorite being a campaign they made for an energy supplier. They were able to link the amount of harm you were doing to the environment based on what Netflix shows you were watching.

This linked a very topical story – the environment, with arguably the most well-known streaming service in the world. People could relate by identifying the shows they were watching and then getting hard data on how much CO2 was being produced by watching it. 

The use of a big brand name got them mentioned in big publications, hence a load of backlinks for their client. The big brand also got them international exposure.

It also had a good news spin by showing how easy it could be for you to reduce your carbon footprint just by watching less TV. Do more by doing less.

Conclusion

As you can see, Digital PR is a valuable tool to have in your SEO tool kit. Not only can it increase the reach of your brand and your values, but it can also bring loads of traffic back to your website. This feeds the bottom line, and it helps raise your page’s ranking.

StudioHawk, a multi-award-winning agency, can get you some big wins through Digital PR and our other SEO superpowers. Check out our DIgital PR page and get in touch with the team to find out how we can get you and your brand noticed on the world stage or in your own backyard.