What is Digital PR?
Digital PR is frequently taken to mean an evolution of PR that is optimised for SEO. Google and other search engines are evolving: from more ‘game-able’ measures of relevance like keywords and links, to more authentic and human signifiers like relevance, semantics and search query satisfaction; and because of this – Digital PR for SEO can often end up looking exactly like PR.
Why? Because PR was solving for the audience all along.
To us at Bottle, we think Digital PR means everything that contributes to your digital footprint, both on your own website and everywhere else you are discussed, whether you controlled that message or not. There is an implicit focus on digital channels: the stories are enduring and findable beyond their publish date, and there are few brands whose audiences aren’t present and active online in some way. Plus it’s far more measurable than ever before.
What do we mean by ‘digital footprint’?
PR is, and remains, the art of earning your way into the news agenda, to conversations and into the hearts and minds of your audience. Digital PR is omni-channel brand building. On steroids. This means it can happen not only in earned media, but social, forums, specialist sites, dark social, in person.
It could be a result of a campaign you’ve run, a new product you’ve launched or really excellent customer service you’ve delivered. All of these could spark a conversation about you. Even what your CEO has been up to. These conversations all culminate in what you’re “known for” by your audience and of course, by Google. As an entity – how positive, consistent and trustworthy do these mentions say you are? This is the key: your reputation is how people talk about you when you’re not around. It’s not just what you say you are, but that our brand truths and narrative evident in every touchpoint of your business?
The SEO bit
Earning media coverage through great storytelling, a focus on audience and a great relationship with journalists are key strengths of PR. This means that it naturally lends itself well to link-building; and so a prominent strand of any brand’s SEO strategy (even if it took everyone a while to realise it). The future of links as the strongest SEO signal is uncertain, which is why audience and content still need to be front and centre.
It still starts with your audience
Understanding your audience is the first step to any PR plan, digital or otherwise. You need to get to know them as people. What matters most to them? What do they care about? What do you have to tell them that will genuinely help them, make their lives easier or make them look good?
Media fragmentation compels us to look beyond mainstream news outlets (does your audience even read that stuff anymore?) and onto specialist sites, niche verticals and interest-based publications. This informs where you need to tell your stories, the kinds of topics your audience care about and what they need to hear from you.
Digital PR is anchored by content
Content is king for a reason, as the benefits are many-fold. Being generous with your knowledge builds trust, familiarity and demonstrates your expertise. It gives you a meaningful reason to get in front of your audience; something else to talk about other than yourself and your product; fuelling channels like social media and email. It can start conversations, show your audience you know them and understand their pain points. From an SEO perspective, it can increase the visibility of your website, find you for the first time and keep people there.
Content is a critical component of your Digital PR strategy. Sitting on an online property that you own, you have control over what sits there and how it evolves: it anchors all of your storytelling. This could be a content hub, a blog, a selection of guides or resources. It is a reason for your audience to visit again and again, and a reason for journalists and relevant sites to link. You maximise its potential by optimising the content for the way your audience searches, and syndicate through other channels.
Without something good to say, PR is just another channel
Some channels, like social media, programmatic or email can get a bad reputation for ‘not working’, but we can’t throw the channel out with the bath water. Sure, social media, done badly, doesn’t work. We’ve heard people say they only post a couple of times a week and don’t engage with anyone on social, because they don’t get any engagement (vicious cycle, anyone?). If the messaging and creative aren’t good enough for programmatic campaigns, it won’t work, and you’ve just spent thousands of pounds showing people a bad message, doing more harm than good.
So, in order for PR to be effective, we need a story, new news, something to make your audience’s ears prick up… and make them want to tell someone else. Your product or business story can only take you so far, so what else do you have to say? A great message is the secret to reach – and when someone else is sharing your content, campaign or brand experience, it’s that much more powerful.
Measuring Digital PR
Unlike its analogue ancestor, we don’t believe Digital PR has a measurement problem – and there’s a blend of KPIs we can use to review its performance and how it trends over time. There are shorter term metrics you can use to understand more immediate outputs. Here are a few examples:
Number of pieces of coverage
Number of links to targeted areas of your site
The quality and relevance of those links
Views of your onsite content, time on site, pages per visit
Then, alongside that there are longer term metrics that tell us whether this activity is laddering up into the business metrics you probably really care about. These are indicators that the plan is working. If you have influenced your target audience, been steadily building your brand, people will seek you out, and they’ll show up in metrics like these:
Organic traffic: how often your site is served as a relevant result to people searching
Direct traffic: indicative of how many people already know who you are and are choosing to come straight to you
Branded search: you are the brand of choice over your competitors. Well done you.
Using a blend of the above metrics allows you to understand immediate outputs, as well as how they ladder up to your business objectives.
So Digital PR is the strategic cultivation of your digital footprint. It’s omni-channel brand building, growing visibility and authority in the eyes your audience, and Google. whether that’s through onsite content, offsite storytelling (earned media, social) or how people are responding to and talking about you.
Optimised for humans.