Understanding a Digital PR Strategy for Beginners
Getting your business’s name out there in local and national media, and relevant industry publications can truly propel your brand into a household name, for all the right reasons. This is the power of digital PR and here at Embryo, we have seen first-hand the incredible benefits that original campaigns and newsjacking can have on a business, from greater exposure to increased sales.
While PR has gone digital, the principles surrounding it remain pretty much the same as they did 10, 20, and even 30 years ago. Fundamentally, it’s about getting your name brand in front of a bigger audience, this used to be in newspapers and magazines but is now predominantly centred on online publications. What has changed is the speed and volume of PR content that’s out there which is why it is so important to understand the fundamentals of digital public relations so that you can be the first to react to the news that’s relevant to your industry, and be the business journalists go to for reaction.
Starting these campaigns can be tricky. After all, where does one start with all this, especially when you’ve never explored this element of organic digital marketing, fear not, we’re here to help.
In this piece, we’re going to break down a digital PR strategy for beginners and show you all the important elements that you need to keep in mind if you plan on executing a campaign. If you’d rather leave your digital marketing efforts in the hands of experts then you can always get in touch with us here at Embryo by phone at 0161 327 2635 or email us at [email protected].
What is a Digital PR Strategy?
The goal of a digital PR strategy is to create a positive image of the company, improve its online presence and ultimately drive more traffic, leads, and sales. It requires a deep understanding of the media, the target audience and their behaviour online, as well as a data-driven approach to measuring and analysing the impact of any efforts.
As digital PR strategies can take a lot of time and effort to plan and execute, many companies choose to hire an internal PR team or outsource the work to an agency such as Embryo. But, if you’re new to it and need some tips on how to get started, this blog will tell you everything you need to consider. You might want to work off a three or six-month plan initially.
A digital PR strategy is a structured plan for using digital channels to build and manage a company’s reputation, increase its visibility and reach, engage with its target audience and improve its overall backlink profile. It overlaps with digital marketing as a whole and involves utilising digital platforms such as news websites, social media, TV and radio.
Digital PR strategies typically include a mix of tactics, but most popular is content creation and distribution that is intertwined with search engine optimisation (SEO), which we’ll discuss in this blog. It can also include other elements like influencer outreach. digital PR can be used to bolster existing SEO efforts by helping with ranking for certain keywords, for example.
Assess Your In-House Capabilities
If you want to plan and execute a digital PR strategy in-house, there are a number of things you should consider when it comes to content creation and distribution. You’ll need staff that can:
- Spot a good news story or media opportunity
- Monitor and understand the news landscape
- Write press releases to a high standard, in a way that journalists write their stories
- Have a good understanding of what makes a good headline
- Be able to work with and analyse data
- Take the time to build relationships with journalists
- Outreach content to journalists
- Have a basic understanding of SEO and work with your SEO team to strengthen the efforts of your digital PR (for example by identifying keywords you want to rank for and creating newsworthy content around this)
- Be responsive and reactive
- Be able to use the tools needed to help with success and efficiency
These are the tools you should consider in order to strengthen your digital PR efforts.
Media monitoring: These tools help you monitor news outlets, blogs, social media, and other online platforms for mentions of your brand, competitor brands, or related topics which can help with ideation and competitor research. Examples of media monitoring tools include Google Alerts, Buzzsumo and Hootsuite.
Media databases: There are a number of media databases out there which include the contact details of reporters, editors, producers and presenters all over the world, and detail all of the different news outlets, which can help with identifying publications or channels you didn’t even know existed. You’ll need these to build your media list when you’re ready to outreach content. For example, Roxhill, Vuelio and Muckrack are popular and helpful tools.
Press release distribution services: These services help you distribute press releases and content to journalists and the media efficiently. Many of them let you track when and how many times emails are opened or links are clicked, and you can automate follow-ups in order to save time. These tools are advantageous because you can still send personal emails to each journalist you contact, but you can set up a template which can be edited rather than having to restructure individual emails to individual contacts. A good example of a press release distribution service is Buzzstream.
Media request platforms: You can use different platforms to monitor the requests journalists put out when they’re seeking stories, data, expert commentary and so on. This is a great way to connect directly with them and build relationships with them, and is one of the best ways to secure media coverage – with many of us digital PR specialists describing it as a ‘quick-win’ method. There are a number of platforms such as ResponseSource, Haro and more – but you can use Twitter at no cost by monitoring the #journorequest hashtag.
Analytics tools: These tools help you track and analyse website traffic, social media engagement, and other metrics related to your digital PR efforts. Examples of analytics tools include Google Analytics, SEMrush, and Moz.
By using a combination of these tools, you can streamline your digital PR efforts and improve your chances of success.
Competitor & Industry Research
Analysing your competitors can provide valuable insight and help you identify opportunities for ideation and improvement in your own DPR strategy.
The first thing you need to do is make a list of all of your competitors, big and small. You can easily see what kind of press coverage they’re achieving by typing in the brand names in quote marks on Google, and searching under the ‘news’ section. For example, by typing in “Embryo” and then using the phrase ‘marketing agency’ next to it, Google pulls up recent news articles mentioning Embryo.
If the name of the competitor is a word or phrase that is likely to bring up other search results, you may need to be more specific like we have here, by using ‘marketing agency’.
You can also identify competitors you may not be too familiar with by using the same search method but typing in relevant keywords and phrases. For example, if you’re a brand that sells flowers, by typing in “Valentine’s Day flowers” and using the news section, you’ll find articles written by consumer reporters about the best Valentine’s Day deals from brands, which ones to buy from and so on. You’ll have pages and pages of results to sift through and this can also help you to identify which reporters you might want to contact.
If there are specific keywords you want to rank for on search engines, identify these and see who is already ranking for them, and what kind of content they’re creating. You can also look at the blog content on competitors websites to see what content they’re creating there, which can help with your own ideation.
When you’re analysing the type of content, take note of whether these stories are expert-led, data-led, consumer-focused product promotions or business updates, for example. Look at your own capabilities and see what you can utilise, for example, you might have your own in-house expert that can provide quotes to journalists in a specific industry. You can emulate what is already working well.
Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush allow you to look at the backlink profile held by you and your competitors to pull through results that might not always be visible in Google. It can be a bigger task if the site has thousands of sites or pages linking to it, but it’s worth doing if you’re conducting a deeper analysis. This allows you to compare your backlink profiles, and identify publications your competitors are getting links to but you aren’t.
A link gap analysis will allow you to see the difference between your own backlink profile, and your competitors, while a link intersects analysis will allow you to view the news outlets that are linking to your competitors and not to your website, highlighting opportunities.
Pay attention to the key messages your competitors are communicating in their efforts. This can help you identify areas where you can differentiate yourself and develop unique messaging.
Campaign & Story Planning
The difference between these two is that a campaign tends to be a much larger-scale piece of content. It involves more work and often includes creating assets such as landing pages or infographics and tables. Many campaigns are driven by data. News stories are exactly that, they’re smaller in scale and while they can still be in-depth, they’re regular articles like the ones you see on news websites.
All of the research methods above will give you the inspiration to create your own stories and content and can help you brainstorm further. You might want to include a mix of campaigns and stories in your strategy and capitalise on different elements like data, expert commentary, and consumer-focused stories to hit different audiences and increase your brand awareness.
Use social media to keep an eye on trending topics. Tools like BuzzSumo and AnswerThePublic are great for identifying these trending topics and the questions people are asking relating to them.
Make sure you’re aware of any global, national and commercial calendar dates before you put your strategy together – this will give you an idea of what will be dominating news coverage at that time – and help you identify if you can create anything yourself around that topic, for example, “World Diabetes Day”.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of team brainstorming. Bounce ideas off staff internally and speak to your clients and customers.
You can offer journalists and publications stories exclusively, or outreach to a few publications at any given time.
Reactive PR involves responding in some way to unexpected or unplanned events, situations or topics dominating the news agenda. Brands can piggyback off of this by creating their own content around it, which is why you should always leave some space for it within your proactive strategy.
For example, if a new series comes out on Netflix and you’re a fashion brand which sells a similar kind of clothing to that which the characters are wearing, you might create fashion and pop-culture content around the best items to buy to get their look or style.
The ability to be flexible is important as you might need to park other planned activities in order to take the chance with some reactive content. You can identify which journalists are already talking about the topic and pitch your fresh content to them.
Other examples of reactive PR include crisis management, responding to negative customer reviews, addressing public inquiries or complaints, and managing media coverage of unexpected events, such as accidents, scandals, or natural disasters.
Digital PR Is an Essential Part of Your Marketing Mix, Understand It, and Watch Your Brand Grow
In a congested world of content, being mentioned and found in publications can be the difference between your rankings going up and down. The importance of quality digital PR campaigns, cannot be overstated in a world where every company wants ‘good’ SEO.
Our PR campaigns make up a key pillar of our organic search campaigns because they create trust and build links back to your brand’s website, something that Google has always seen as an important ranking factor.
To learn more about our approach to PR get in touch! You can speak to our team by phone at 0161 327 2635 or email [email protected].