The world may be slowly opening up in some areas, but businesses are still hampered by the economic hit brought about by the pandemic. But as people have been resilient in the way they communicate and interact with each other, brands can also do the same by enhancing their public relations efforts.
In this article, we touch on what digital PR is and how you can leverage it to keep you on top of your audience’s minds amidst these uncertain times.
What is Digital PR?
Digital PR is, at its core, is not much different from traditional PR. But as the name implies, it’s armed with online channels that allow it to reach an exponentially broader audience. Additionally, apart from boosting a brand’s online presence and visibility, it can also turn static information into conversations, engaging its audience in the process and building relationships.
But to get an even better idea of what digital PR is, we need to couch on what it aims to achieve — to improve a client’s reputation and increase their visibility to their target audience.
Digital vs. Traditional PR
Much like the similarities and differences between digital and traditional marketing, the same concepts are applied, but at an amplified scale with the help of the many and varying online tools you can utilize. So while a traditional PR professional might reach out to publications and journalists to get featured, digital PR practitioners would tap strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, influencer outreach, email marketing, and other digital marketing techniques.
As well, while you might typically look at the media mileage (the value of exposure gained from traditional media outlets (print, TV, radio), digital PR enables you to gather multiple data sets that provide valuable insight. This access to analytics also allows you to monitor your campaigns’ performance far beyond what you used to be able to do using traditional PR strategies.
What does Digital PR involve?
With the constant development of technology, online platforms, and its features, the possibilities when it comes to digital PR are vast. This is especially true when you’re able to combine the best of traditional PR with the latest digital marketing trends like tapping into influential vloggers, utilizing TikTok to reach younger audiences, and webinars, for example.
To get a clearer picture of the trade, here are some of the tactics a digital PR professional uses to improve a client’s web presence:
Preparing and optimizing online press releases
In the digital realm, this goes far beyond the mainly-text press release that used to be the norm. These days, it would be best to create blog materials that fit the different formats used to consume content.
For example, apart from the copy announcing a new product/service, there should also be videos content creators can use, Stories publications can post on their social media channels, or infographics they can embed on their websites.
Additionally, press releases should also be optimized with relevant backlinks to your website. As noted by Digital Marketing Institute, this benefits readers with links to more information and boosts search rankings by securing high-authority links to your website from high-traffic online publications.
Establish relationships with pertinent media outlets
These include relevant influencers and vloggers, social media managers, bloggers, and other online outlets.
Organize online reviews
For example, when a brand is featured in a prominent publication, these are the type of things a PR professional can use as social proof – emphasizing that their client is a recognized brand.
Publish online content
Of course, with everyone having a platform, digital PR specialists will also need to publish content on their client’s communication channels. These include websites, social channels, email newsletters, etc.
Digital PR Strategies to Help Your Business Thrive During the Pandemic
Create blog article with valuable information
Apart from providing your audience with valuable and relevant information, blogs are also crucial to optimizing SEO. When people search online for products and services (or information related to it), your blog articles can show up on search engine results pages (SERPs), driving traffic to your website. You can also add more value to your content just by adding an infographic to your blog. You can use infographic maker tools to make a design in minutes.
It’s also important to note that you should also incorporate visuals (infographics, charts, etc.) to make your posts more valuable and eye-catching whenever applicable. Posts with useful information also help to make you viewed as a thought leader/industry expert. And once you’re viewed as such, there’s a level of trust that’s entailed — something that’s important for every brand.
Speaking of which…
Develop a thought leadership strategy
When it comes to developing a thought leadership strategy, it’s important to note that you should only this if you’re actually an expert in the field. People can spot those that are just piggy-backing on a popular topic/keyword (such as hot takes content creators).
Here are some questions you can ask when developing a thought leadership strategy, as noted by PR Daily:
- What unique solutions for you have for those concerned with your products/services or industry?
- How might your expertise enlighten your audience and ease their fears during the pandemic?
- How can you lead your community through this crisis?
It’s also important to understand that when you’re considered an industry expert, media outlets and content creators tend to come to you or cite you. This further helps add value to your brand.
Engage in community panels
While some countries have it better than others when it comes to inoculating their population, new virus mutations still have people on their heels. Additionally, a significant number of businesses have yet to recover from the pandemic’s economic impacts.
If you have insights on how to best cope during these uncertain times, participating in community panels (or even through platforms like Quora) can strengthen your industry presence and even provide opportunities for you to network with potential clients. As well, this can add to your prestige as a thought leader.
Foster the human element
People are looking for support wherever they can get it during these times. Thus, curating a media presence that’s honest and sensitive to the challenges people are facing is a savvy approach to digital PR in the time of the Coronavirus.
So whether it’s offering free shipping (to minimize exposure), posting healthcare hotlines on your social channels, or creating blog posts on how to treat mild Covid-19 symptoms, it will only help your brand if you offer to help wherever you can.
Utilize live streaming
As mass gatherings are still being limited in most parts of the world, you can still connect with your audiences through the magic of live streaming. Product launches, Q&As with brand ambassadors, and other kinds of content can be streamed instead of holding the usual press event. And when done through the live streaming format, this also adds FOMO (fear of missing out) to the equation. As well, because people are encouraged to comment on live streams, it innately encourages engagement.
As added examples, gyms have held live streaming workouts to help retain memberships during the enforced lockdowns. Royal Carribean has also maintained a live stream channel which shows sunrises and sunsets as their ships travel across ports. These help keep your brand top of mind, even as your audience stays home.
Continue SEO work
As more and more people pivot their activities online, it’s become increasingly important to amplify your SEO efforts, so you appear on top of SERPs. Apart from allowing more people to find you online, it also lends credibility if you’re seen in the top five results of SERPs.
Physical stores more close and in-person events may have been significantly hampered by the pandemic, but this doesn’t mean you can double down on your PR efforts. The technological advancements and constant stream of new features on platforms have provided brands with many tools to regularly connect and engage with their audience.
What strategies and platforms have been most helpful to you during the pandemic? Sound off in the comments below.
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