Practical Guide To Building A Digital PR Strategy

Practical Guide To Building A Digital PR Strategy

Digital PR is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy in 2019.

Digital PR is not only a key brand image tool, but it also supports many other aspects of digital marketing such as link building and SEO.

Building a digital PR strategy is critical to ensuring your take full advantage of the opportunities presented by digital PR.

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Here is a step-by-step guide to creating your own digital PR strategy to build your brand and achieve your business goals in 2019.

What Is Digital PR?

Digital PR Strategy

Digital PR, like traditional PR, uses media and publicity to build your brand’s image, increase brand awareness, boost visibility and strengthen your customer base.

It integrates modern digital techniques and platforms to deliver these results using digital methods, and is focused on digital media, online publications, influencers and content creators,

Digital PR is critical to building your brand’s awareness in our changing digital world. Digital PR can also be used to launch a new product or service, generate leads, bring in referral traffic and support SEO strategies.

How To Build a Digital PR Strategy

How To Build a Digital PR Strategy

It is important to remember that while Digital PR shares some attributes and many of the end results, they are also very different in some critical ways. Therefore, those who simply copy traditional PR strategies in implementing digital PR are doing themselves a disservice.

In order to effectively execute digital PR, it is necessary to build a dedicated strategy which encompasses these four pillars:

  • Understanding: knowing what you want to achieve through digital PR
  • Planning: having set and detailed plans to show how you will meet your goals and objectives
  • Implementation: carrying out the planning consistently and effectively.
  • Evaluation: monitoring and analysing results, and adjusting as necessary.

Here is a seven-step plan to build a Digital PR strategy which will take your digital marketing efforts to the next level.

1. Define Your Goals And Objectives

Having clearly defined goals and objectives are imperative for any kind of strategy. After all, if you don’t know where you want to go, how can you work out the best way to get there?

Many agencies and businesses skip over this step without thinking about it and get stuck into techniques and tactics based on what they already know or what they have seen others do. However, it is highly advantageous to take a step back to set your goals and objectives and use these as a basis for establishing plans and execution.

To do this you will need to be clear on the difference between goals and objectives:

  • Goals are broad, usually unquantifiable, desired endpoints of your campaign
  • Objectives are specific and generally quantifiable – they are the building blocks which will bring you closer to achieving your goals.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

Having a clear picture of your target audience is also essential to building a successful digital PR strategy. Although data and testing come into play here, it is not an exact science and each target audience is very individual to each brand.

The first step is to define your ideal customer based on factors such as demographics (age/gender/ethnicity/location), interests, digital habits, income and education.

Next, test your sample group(s) through surveys, feedback forms or interactive exercises such as competitions.

Social media analytics can also give you insights into your existing audience, as can email lists. Finally, competition analysis is a great way to see who are competitors are targeting and identify any gaps which could represent an opportunity.

If preparing a new campaign, it can be a good idea to prepare multiple target audiences and run split tests (also known as A/B tests) to define your ideal target audience.

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3. Develop Your Key Message

Your messaging should be reflected in every aspect of your campaign, so it is important to have it clearly defined from the start.

Each campaign should have at least one key message which reflects the goal of the campaign and is tailored to achieving that goal. If your campaign has multiple goals you may have multiple messages: one per goal.

As you roll out your digital PR campaign, make sure your message is communicated clearly and consistently throughout.

4. Create Your Editorial Calendar

Your editorial calendar is essentially your campaign’s road map. It lays out roll-out dates, as well as key messages, contacts and team responsibilities.

This essential tool will let you not only plan out your campaign but also provide timelines and let you track that everything is being completed on schedule.

5. Build Content

This will not be applicable to every digital PR campaign, but in many cases, it will be one of the most critical steps.

If your digital PR activities are based around working with niche-based authority websites and online publications you will likely be creating editorials or guest posts for these sites.

On the other hand, when relying on digital media you may not need to create much content if any at all.

If your digital PR strategy relies on creating content, it is essential that this content is high quality, interesting and useful. Many small businesses do not have an in-house content team and so use external content marketing services for this part of the strategy.

6. Outreach

This is the stage where digital PR is solidly in the realm of traditional PR: pitching your content and publicising your campaign to the rest of the world.

There are two main types of digital outreach:

  • Solicited Outreach: This is also known as “jumping on board”, as you are jumping on board with the trends and types of content which digital media and sites are already looking for. This could be through analysing the current trends in the market, or through working off the established content calendars of digital publications.
  • Unsolicited Outreach: This type of outreach involves leveraging your own specific expertise or area of interest, and using this to pitch original ideas to digital media and online publications.

In both cases, it is important that pitches are made in strategic ways and to the right people. This requires a lot of preparation work to compile contact databases and build relationships with key people.

7. Analyse and Evaluate

This is the final step in the process, but it is something that should be prepared from the start.

Before your campaign even goes live, have systems in place to be able to track its results as it rolls out. Identify your KPI (key performance indicators) which will indicate whether you are meeting your goals and objectives, and track these throughout your campaign.

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One of the defining characteristics of digital PR, as opposed to traditional PR, is that results start to come in almost immediately.

Perhaps even more importantly, evaluate what these results mean as your campaign progresses. Translate all the data and figures associated with your campaign into what they mean for your business: whether in terms of lead generated, sales confirmed, ROI, or something else.

Doing this as your campaign progresses allows you to be responsive and make any necessary changes to make sure you meet your goals and objectives.

Debunking Digital PR Myths and How to Measure Success

Debunking Digital PR Myths and How to Measure Success

A robust digital PR strategy will undoubtedly increase your online presence and scale up to the next level of success. Like other digital marketing strategies, you need to benchmark the strategy to know the areas that you should focus more on to get more results.

Here are the seven critical digital PR metrics you should measure to know if you are headed in the right direction.

1. Brand Mentions

Brand mentions will give you a crystal-clear picture of the performance of your PR campaign on social media. Ideally, a robust digital PR strategy will continuously increase the number of mentions in conversations on different social media platforms you use for marketing.

Your focus should increase positive media mentions on the different channels to connect you with qualified lads. The mentions will also give you insights into enhancing your SEO strategies.

Apart from tracking your brand name, go an extra mile to track your competitors’ mentions, common misspelling of your name, popular industry keywords, company nicknames, and names of top executives.

2. Brand Engagement

When doing social media marketing, your goal should be to expand your reach and engage effectively with the target audience. Brand engagement will determine how many people engage with your brand.

Some actions that show engagement are shares, comments, likes, and retweets. These are not the only brand engagement metrics, though. Actions such as opening and reading the contents of a newsletter or email and views and clicks on advertisements should also be monitored.

They will give you a holistic view of how effective your digital PR campaign is in spurring engagement with the target audience.

Concisely, measuring brand engagement will enable you to know whether the digital marketing message matches your audience’s needs and expectations. It will also give you an idea of how the target customers perceive your service or product.

3. Backlinks

Backlink is one of the factors used by search engines such as Google to rank websites. The more backlinks a website has, the higher its domain authority (DA) and ranking in SERPs. Ideally, search engines consider a backlink from a website regarded as an authority to your website as a sign of approval that your site is also an authority.

Investing in a robust digital PR campaign will enable you to get more backlinks from authority websites. Both Dofollow and Nofollow links are essential to your website’s on-site SEO.

Invest more time and money on a digital PR strategy that helps you win more backlinks. Steer clear of black hat backlinking tactics such as using a private blog network to avoid getting penalised by Google bots.

Unlike in the past, the new Google algorithm and bots can detect the use of such illegal tactics accurately.

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Focus on creating a healthy backlink profile to get ahead of the search engine results page competitors. One sure way to achieve this goal is by getting links from different websites with a high DA.

However, the sites should be related to your niche to impact your website ranking positively. Consequently, more backlinks will increase your website domain authority score. 

4. Website Traffic

Increasing your website traffic will boost your brand awareness efforts. Focus on increasing the number of qualified leads who visit your website to generate sales. Monitor the amount of traffic generated before and after implementing the digital PR campaign to gauge its effectiveness.

Sales results from clicks on CTA buttons on your website.

Use Google Analytics or any other reputable website traffic monitoring tool to identify spikes in site traffic. Compare that information with the number of sales you get during the spike periods to know if your PR efforts need to be tweaked.

Sites ranked highly on Google enjoy more traffic than the lowly rated websites. Applying the best SEO practices, such as legitimately getting backlinks from websites with high domain authority relevant to your niche, will get you on top of SERPs for the target keywords.

5. Media Impressions

Media impressions will give you a clear perspective of your digital PR performance, like brand mentions. This metric is one of the most fundamental and widely accepted ways of gauging the impact of a digital PR strategy in the target markets.

It’s calculated by multiplying the total circulation of the publications by the number of press coverages.

There is a difference between audience reach and impressions. Reach refers to the number of unique people who interact with content, while impression refers to the number of times a potential customer sees your post or ad.

For example, if a potential customer comes across your ad on social media ten times, the impression count for that ad is 10.

But the reach is one because only one customer interacted with the brand. Note that media impression is the first step that will eventually result in a sale.

6. Sales Statistics

The number of sales accrued within a given timeframe is one of the metrics that shows the performance of your PR campaign.

You won’t notice an instant increase in sales during the initial stages, but you can expect a gradual improvement if the PR campaign is well structured.

Monitoring sales will also help you better understand your target audiences, such as gender, age, social class, and location. Consider all these factors that create the PR campaign to achieve the highest sales effect possible.

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Analysing sales statistics will point your campaign in the right direction by showing you where, when and who your campaign should target.

7. Domain Authority

You should focus more on getting high-quality links from authority websites to boost your site ranking. The greater the website authority, the higher the chances of getting a high rank and more traffic.

Note that both the quantity and quality of backlinks directly impact your website domain rating (DR) and domain authority (DA).

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Your website’s domain authority has little to do with the number of backlinks you get but more to do with the quality of content and the SEO practices you apply.

Your digital PR campaign should establish a solid relationship with websites with high DA and relevant to your niche. Your PR campaign is working if it increases your site’s DA.

Let’s shift gears and debunk common digital PR myths.

8. Press Releases Never Fail to Deliver the Expected Results

Press releases have been around for more than three decades now. They are effective in helping companies share new information about products and services and other companies’ news, such as changes of ownership.

However, it would be best if you didn’t focus too much time and effort on them in the current digital world.

They don’t deliver the expected results because editors often just read the main headline and first paragraph. Strive to make your press release short, straight to the point, and concise to grasp the media’s attention.

Go the extra mile and use social media platforms to promote your stories. The larger your reach, the more effective your press releases will convey the intended message to different target markets.

9. Digital PR Doesn’t Influence Sales

Digital PR Doesn't Influence Sales

To realise the full potential of your company, you need to have a robust sales and marketing team. There are business professionals who are of the idea that digital PR doesn’t have an impact on sales.

We beg to differ; digital PR has the potential to increase the number of sales you accrue.

Convince potential customers to buy by sharing information on what a particular blog or publication that’s considered an authority had to say about your company and what it offers.

10. Anyone Can Be Hired to Do Digital PR Tasks

This is probably one of the most common myths associated with digital PR. Some brands hire people with shallow experience and knowledge about PR to save money. Unfortunately, this mistake results in a loss of sales and opportunities to convert website visitors into customers.

Be on the safe side by hiring a professional with a proven track record to get the most results from this strategy.

The ideal candidate should be able to carry out extensive market research to understand your business, target markets, and trends. The storytelling technique will come in handy when explaining your company’s history and culture.

As your business grows, you may have to hire one or more PR experts. If you are on a tight budget, consider outsourcing the task to reputable experts via websites such as Upwork. Check the reputation and credentials of every candidate on your list to hire the best.

11. Brand Publicity is All About Luck

Ever heard of the mantra, any publicity is good publicity? To some extent, this saying is true as positive and negative publicity will impact your business. However, you cannot afford to assume that brand publicity is all about luck.

Concisely, your business publicity depends on proactive actions to leverage industry trends, world news, regional news, and speed. It’s the sole role of the digital PR team to manage how the target market thinks or perceives your business.

The rule of thumb is to use your experience to identify conversations even when the market seems quiet. When publishing a story online, timing is essential. You should tell your brand’s story at the right time, to the right target customers, and in an engaging way.

12. Only Big Businesses Require Social Listening

Social listening refers to analysing the discussions and trends related to your brand.

You should focus on the entire industry to get accurate insights on how to communicate with your customers. The information is often collected from social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

There is a notion that only big businesses should invest in various social listening tools.

The truth is that all companies in B2C and B2B industries can profit from the tools. They need to have a clear understanding of the market and the competitors. Social analytics is one of the surest ways of understanding your customers’ needs.

13. Digital PR is one of the black hat link building strategies

Your website should have a healthy backlinking profile to rank highly on search engines. These links should be from sites considered an authority in your industry. When creating a link-building strategy, you should pay close attention to the website’s domain authority and reputation.

Avoid links from sites that are considered spam lest they hurt your credibility.

Digital PR will help you reach out to legit websites for backlinks.

Over the years, Google has changed its algorithm and improved its bots to vet and rank websites accurately. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not one of the spammy link-building strategies. It should be one of the pillars of your brand awareness and SEO strategies.

14. No Need to Invest in Digital PR if you are Doing Traditional PR

Traditional PR strategies are still viable in the current fast-paced world of business. Therefore, it’s recommendable to have digital and traditional PR strategies to grow your business. It’s OK to have different KPIs and goals for each. 

15. Digital PR is Too Expensive

Your company needs to have robust financial plans to meet its daily operation costs and stay afloat.

Yes, digital PR is expensive, but the benefits outweigh the cost. Look for a PR expert whose charges match your budget but be careful not to sacrifice quality for the price.

16. Journalists are Not Interested in Covering Branded Content

Collaborate with journalists to promote your branded content. The secret is crafting and sending great stories about your company to journalists.

They will respond in kind by publishing excellent articles about your brand. As mentioned earlier, leverage storytelling to win the journalists’ attention.

17. It’s Difficult to Gauge Digital PR Success

No. You can gauge the success or performance of your digital PR by setting key KPIs and benchmarking processes. The key performance indicators should be aligned with your company’s goals and objectives.

MediaOne Marketing is the leading provider of digital PR services in Singapore and abroad. Our team is extensively trained on conventional and modern trends. We won’t rest until the expected results are achieved. Contact us today for more details. 

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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