In the world of business and marketing, much is said about ‘digital PR’ but what actually is it, why is it so important and can you do it yourself? PR Director at Sussex-based creative marketing agency PMW, Gina Hollands, gives us the low-down on what all the fuss is about.
What is digital PR?
Digital PR involves creating unique and original content which you send to digital platforms, such as websites, e-zines and blogs, with the aim that they will then publish your content onto their sites.
It’s a way of promoting your business because the article will mention you and/or your offering – although remember, it’s not a direct sales tool, so best to keep any mentions subtle – and drive traffic to your own website.
Why would anyone publish your content?
Well, they won’t if it’s not relevant to their own audience. But, providing it is, then you’re giving them free, well-written, well-presented (and don’t underestimate the importance of both) and interesting content that is designed for them.
You can even offer exclusive content to your favourite websites. Of course, if they decline, you can always offer it to someone else instead until you get a bite.
How does it differ from traditional PR?
Traditional PR involves liaising with journalists, the aim being to generate coverage across a broad range of platforms, including radio, TV, magazines and newspapers. Digital PR focuses mainly on achieving web-based coverage.
Make sure, therefore, before you commence any digital PR work, that your website is in good shape. Sending folk to a shabby-looking site which doesn’t present your company in a good light is a waste of your time and will do your business more harm than good.
Why do it?
To achieve links back to your website, which will in turn improve your search ranking performance and increase the number of visitors to your website. The quality of the platforms your content is published on also matters, as a credible website/blog with plenty of visitors will enhance your search engine results still further and build trust in your organisation.
Always, therefore, remember to include links within your content to a relevant page on your website!
What constitutes good digital PR content?
It can take many guises, including (but not limited to):
Expert articles – why not present yourself as one of the leaders in your given industry?
Games and quizzes – this is something you might need a graphic designer to help with as presentation counts for a lot and can make your content more appealing to both website owners and viewers.
Infographics and diagrams – easier to digest perhaps than blocks of text, and possibly more attractive on the page, but it really depends on the subject and your target audience. Choose the content which is right for both.
News, statistics and research – this is always best if it’s original and new. Try not to regurgitate facts and figures that everyone already knows. In order to get hold of exciting new information, consider running a poll on social media or launching a survey (there are tools you can use online).
Do it yourself, or appoint a professional?
It depends on your budget and your time constraints. The pros of doing it yourself are:
It will cost you nothing but your time
You’ll learn a new skill
If you do it well, you’ll experience the satisfaction of getting results
The pros of hiring a professional are:
You can use your time doing your actual job
They should already have a bank of contacts and contact details
They know what works
They can collate the resulting coverage for you
How much will it cost?
If you do it yourself, the only associated costs will be your time. If you hire a professional, you’ll save on time, but you will have to pay their fee. This could range from anything from around £25/hr for a freelancer to several hundred for a larger, city-based PR firm.
How often should you do it?
As often as you like without bombarding the same digital media, and only of course when you have decent content to share. Try for one a month as it’s important to keep momentum going and not be forgotten. You might even find that some online platforms offer you a regular slot if your content is high quality, looks good and you can be relied upon to provide it on time.
How will I know if my content’s been published?
If the website owners don’t tell you (and never assume they will), then simply run a Google search for keywords you’ve included in the article.
What should I do with the coverage once I’ve achieved it?
Share it! Sharing is great for your own profile, and the owners of the website on which your content was published will be grateful for the publicity too. Mention them in your social media posts along with a link to the article. Not only will this help with your search engine rankings, but it will also further enhance your image as a trustworthy expert.
What if I’m not getting any pick-up?
Don’t lose heart. This happens to the best of us. If at first you don’t have much luck, try these tactics:
Research the types of articles your chosen websites are running. What kind of content do they prefer? What tone of voice do they favour? What kind of images do they use? Once you know the answer to these questions, you should be in a better position to provide them with what they want.
Try a different tack. If you’ve been focusing on graphics and diagrams and are having no joy, then try a straight-up article with subheadings. Likewise, if you’ve opted for expert articles but no one’s biting, then try something more light-hearted, perhaps with an element of interactivity, such as a quiz. After a few months you should start to know what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re providing the kind of content you believe the web platforms you’re aiming for would like, and you’re still not getting any pick-up, then simply ask them what they want. You’ll probably find they’re grateful that you’ve thought to ask the question.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. In the PR game, there’s not a lot you can guarantee apart from the fact that if you don’t provide content, it won’t be published!
Three bonus tips
1) Try including quotes in your piece – not your own quote but rather someone you’ve spoken to about the given subject.
2) Include real-life experiences. For instance, if you’re creating a piece about how people have been enterprising during lockdown, you really need some case studies. You can find these from talking to people within your network, or putting a callout on social media.
3) Always have your content proofread – by someone who isn’t you (you get ‘word blind’ to your own work). The last thing you want is for a piece to be published which has mistakes in. That won’t show you or your company in a good light!
Good luck with all your digital PR endeavours. More marketing advice for your business can be found at https://pmwcom.co.uk/blog/.
About the Author
Gina Hollands is commercial director at PMW, a full-service marketing agency based in Sussex that provides clients with tangible results through creativity.