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THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO DIGITAL PR

By Mark Linsdell

Digital PR, much like digital marketing, has moved a previously offline activity into the online world. It’s the job digital PR agencies to build the exposure of businesses with their target audiences and grow their digital footprints.  

This is achieved through a range of techniques including guest postingbuilding relationships with journalists and influencers, social media engagements and by combining PR with SEO.   

With this in mind, we’ve put together this guide on all things digital PR. We’ll cover:

  • What is digital PR?
  • Digital PR vs traditional PR
  • What does a digital PR agency do?
  • Benefits of digital PR
  • Digital PR tactics
  • Digital PR and SEO
  • Our digital PR success stories

Without further ado, let’s get on with the guide.

What is digital PR?

Digital PR is when you use online platforms to manage and grow the reputation, awareness and understanding of your business.

You achieve this through building relationships with online journalists, bloggers, and influencers relevant to your business. The end goal of this tactic is to win earned media exposure across a range of online platforms, including:

  • News sites
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Social media
  • Business networks

It enables companies to create super-targeted campaigns across a wide range of online mediums, with the aim of reaching and influencing their target audience.

When done properly, digital public relations can be a vital tool in improving your reputation, growing your exposure and improving your SEO. 

Digital PR vs traditional PR 

You may be wondering what’s the difference between traditional PR and Digital PR, and which is better for your business? Well, here’s a summary of the key differences.

Traditional PR versus digital PR infographic

The problem with traditional PR

Traditional PR was designed, quite literally, in a different era. The primary objective of this form of PR is to influence the traditional news cycle by winning positive media coverage.

Although traditional PR has moved with the times and winning earned media from online outlets now forms a large part of its output, it’s largely unsuited to the needs of small businesses and startups. This is because the industry was built to serve the requirements of big corporates.

Traditional PR favors product updates and announcements. However, startups may only have one or two truly newsworthy announcements to make each year. Therefore, it can be a struggle to gain media coverage using traditional PR. 

And then there’s the thorny issue of cost; some agencies can charge upwards of $10k a month and require lengthy retainers. This puts their services out of reach for many startups.

Fortunately, Digital PR finds other ways to win media coverage besides updates and announcements, at a fraction of the cost.

What does a digital PR agency do?

As a digital PR agency, we’re well-positioned to answer this question. Here are some of the main outputs of a digital PR agency: 

  • Builds a PR strategy based on your business goals – Never seek media coverage for the sake of media coverage! It has to form part of a wider objective to provide value. A digital PR company will build a strategy that’s designed to help deliver your business goals, from growing your backlink profile to increase organic traffic, to positioning you as a thought leader to help secure funding.  
  • Media monitors your industry – Knowing where the conversation is in your industry is vital, as this informs the stories that are pitched and the type of content that’s created. 
  • Pitches stories to online media outlets – Pitching to online media outlets is a core output of a digital PR. This could be in the form of guest post pitches, podcast appearances or interviews, to name a few. 
  • Provides keyword research and strategy – A good digital PR company should have in-house SEO expertise available to clients. A core output of this will be keyword research, to identify the type of owned media content you should be creating.    
  • Produces high-value content  A digital PR agency should be well-skilled at producing a variety of different interactive content including, but not limited to, white papers, articles, infographics & data studies. 
  • Creates social media strategies – Social media has become extremely important to a company’s reputation. Your digital PR agency should have a social media superstar who is involved in managing, growing and gathering feedback across all your social media channels. 

However, the list doesn’t stop there. A digital PR agency should also have a clear understanding of your industry and a passion for your business. These are the areas of expertise and expectations you should be asking your next agency.

Benefits of digital PR

Digital PR can provide enormous benefits to your business. A well planned and executed strategy can: 

  • Build your exposure with your target audience – Digital PR can deliver targeted media wins across a range of online media outlets that are consumed by your target audience. Therefore this is a great way to build your exposure.
  • Establish yourself as an authority within your niche – Getting quality content published on high authority websites, such as guest posts, can help establish you as a thought-leader and build your social proof.
  • Increase referral traffic – Digital PR builds your online exposure, as it enables you to win media mentions across a broad range of outlets. This increases referral traffic coming into your website, which in turn feeds into your sales pipeline. 
  • Boost your SEO – PR and SEO are more intertwined than ever before. A major output of digital PR is backlinks from high authority sites, which are still one of the most fundamental ranking factors for Google. The more high quality backlinks you gain, the more your website’s SEO improves. 
  • Grow your digital footprint – Everything now starts with a Google, so your digital footprint defines what people think. Alongside having a great website, you need to be active on social media and win earned media across the web. Digital PR helps with both of these.
  • Improve your brand image – The greater your online exposure is, the more positive things your target audience will hear about you. This builds brand trust and authority within your industry.

Digital PR tactics

Digital PR strategies focus on winning earned media and securing backlinks across a range online media outlets. 

Here are some of the most common types of Digital PR strategies:

  • Winning media mentions by offering expert opinions and insight – If there’s breaking news in your industry, you can add to the conversation and win media coverage, by offering your expert insight to journalists and reporters.
  • Getting guest articles published online – Guest posting is a great way to build your social proof and develop your narrative as a thought leader. A secondary benefit is the link building potential this offers, with many high authority websites offering backlinks when they publish your content.
  • Issuing press releases and syndicating newsworthy content to gain online media mentions – This takes a leaf out of traditional PR’s book. However, in digital PR, press releases are sent out to online reporters and editors, as opposed to print publications. But press releases are just a medium for sending out a company announcement, so they’re only relevant if you have something newsworthy to announce.
  • Building relationships with influencers or micro-influencers – Influencers, particularly micro-influencers, can connect with a very specific audience. Not only can their endorsement help your brand reach an audience it’s previously been unable to, but it can also increase trust in your business. Influencers are seen as 94% more credible and believable than others on social media.
  • Guest appearances on popular industry podcasts – Podcasts are now a great marketing tool. They allow you to show your personality while demonstrating your industry knowledge.
Digital PR tactics infographic

Digital PR and SEO

SEO and Digital PR are very closely linked. To succeed with SEO you need great quality content and high authority backlinks. And two of the main outputs of digital PR are great quality content and backlinks from high authority websites.  

Therefore, a lot of marketers combine their SEO and digital PR strategies for maximum impact. In fact, many now consider PR to be one of the most effective ways to gain high-quality backlinks.

Combining your SEO, PR and digital content marketing strategy

It’s vital that your digital PR agency joins up your SEO, PR and content marketing strategies, in order to deliver the most benefit. The below infographic shows the relationship between these different elements.

Combining your PR and SEO content strategy infographic

As you can see, the process starts with your owned media strategy. You need to develop content that’s optimized to capture target keywords, such as blog posts and product landing pages. 

Once this strategy is in place and you’re producing quality content, this then informs your PR output. This could be in the form of pitching guest posts that discuss similar topics to some of your blog posts, or sending out press releases announcing original research that you’ve published on your site.

The earned media wins you generate from this activity will then often contain backlinks to your owned media content. For example, backlinks within your guest posts to supporting blog content. 

The below 3-step process to uncover keywords shows you how to begin putting together a combined SEO and digital PR strategy. For a complete walkthrough read our guide to PR and SEO.

Our digital PR success stories – AardvarkCompare

Online insurance comparison website AardvarkCompare approached us as they wanted a digital PR company to help build their online footprint, exposure, and backlinks. 

What did we do?

In order to build their digital footprint and link profile, we had to target earned media wins in high-ranking publications.

We leveraged the founder’s long and detailed backstory to create some chin-scratching intrigue and build up the authority of his personal brand. This helped him get accepted as a guest contributor for well-respected publications, such as Entrepreneur

We also used our in-house SEO knowledge to inform our research into trends within the travel insurance market. By media monitoring, we were able to jump on stories relevant to AardvarkCompare’s target audience and offer expert insight and opinion. This resulted in media mentions across a range of industry-specific publications.

The results

The founder, Jonathan Breeze, had this to say about our digital PR strategies:

“PR today is, arguably, more important to a start-up company than it ever has been. The ability to share a message with a wider audience, whilst building critical backlinks, is of fundamental importance.

The world has changed – no longer should we wait until our product is ready for launch to tell the world. We need to communicate immediately. Publicize ‘gets’ the new world of Digital PR. Any founder who thinks that Domain Authority will be important in the life of their company would be well advised to talk with Publicize today. Had I known then what I know now, I would have begun work with Publicize in 2015 when we began building AardvarkCompare, rather than waiting until 2018. Lesson learned!”

Wrapping up…

If you’re a startup who’s taking its first steps on the PR ladder, digital PR could well be a lot more beneficial to you than traditional PR. 

When planned and executed as part of a broader business strategy, digital PR helps to build your authority, increase your awareness, build your digital footprint and improve your SEO. Standing at the center point between content marketing and SEO, it can add enormous value to any business.    

And if you’re considering taking on a digital PR agency to do the work for you, use this guide to inform what type of questions you should ask and to assess which firm is the right one for you.