It’s common for companies to recognize the importance of having a strong digital PR strategy. Yet, it’s also common for organizations to find themselves with big investments that yield very few results. It can also be confusing, frustrating, and hard to know who you trust.
Having an effective strategy is important, though. In a digital world, companies need to be found online. They also need to be understood for what they are and capable of managing any message about them streaming across various platforms. Like traditional public relations, it is not so much about the sales language or promotional topics. The key to success, then, is to develop an effective process of getting the message out.
There are different definitions of everything that is incorporated in PR and there are clear differences between digital and traditional PR. However, most digital PR guides have the same goal of providing clear, positive information about the company or client.
Yet, digital public relations has one clear benefit over traditional methods: speed. It is possible to use these tools to get information out into the online world quickly, which empowers companies to better control the message about them. It also enables a fast pivot when circumstances warrant it. That’s much harder to do in the traditional PR world.
How to Develop Effective Digital Public Relations
A number of components make up a successful digital PR strategy. To create a strategy like this, consider the following steps.
Define Your Goals
What is the end result? What do you want to see as the result of any activity you take? It’s important to consider this carefully. In some organizations, it is about focused efforts to increase rankings in search engines. Other times, it’s to get more traffic, or targeted traffic, to a website. Still, other times, it’s to increase the brand’s identity.
Often, the more specific the goals are, the better. For example, your business needs to grow its online presence. One way to do that is by building more backlinks to your website. You may need to do more heavy lifting in brand building by networking with other websites or complementary companies to reach that goal.
Clearly Outline Your Target Audience
Who do you want to communicate to or with? If you have not yet done so, work to define personas. This should be a very specific process where you are considering who your ideal reader of any content is. Are you looking for people to sell to? If that’s the case, your content needs to focus on your end customer’s needs. Who is this customer?
Get under the skin of your brand. It’s important to do as much research as possible to find out who your customer is and what they do online. Learn what they are interacting with and what makes them buy.
Create Your Content Calendar
You know what you want to communicate and to whom. The next step is to create a calendar that allows you to create the strategy. An online calendar is a fluid tool that may change over time. However, it puts your plan into action by outlining what needs to be done and where. It also gives you a visual to use to better understand your content moving forward.
Your content calendar also provides some structure for your goals in the coming months. That is, it outlines what’s getting posted, what news releases are going out, and what things you want to celebrate.
This is especially useful for seasonal content. For example, waiting until November 1 to post information about military deals for Veterans Day could negatively impact its effectiveness. By scheduling the content in your October calendar, you can make sure it posts at the most ideal time.
A good focus for PR is to consider four steps. The first is to understand and identify the goals of any campaign. Then, create plans detailed enough to drive the campaign towards its objectives.
From there, it’s necessary to execute the plans according to the goals set. The key fourth step is monitoring, analyzing, and adjusting as needed. There’s no one solution that works for all companies or campaigns.
Building Your Content
You have lots of ideas on where to go from here. The key, then, is to create content that is going to provide the message you’ve selected. Spend some time on this. Look at your audience, goals, and brand voice to create content. You need to fill up that content calendar.
A good place to start is with some interactive tools. You may want to create an infographic, for example, that provides insight into your company. Or create a tool that breaks down some of your company’s more complicated data. You may want to showcase some stories about your company. Don’t be afraid to do some storytelling to paint a picture of your company’s goals.
The next consideration is for high-quality thought leadership. Most organizations need to stand out as being an expert in their industry, product, or service. Thought leadership is a big part of successful digital PR. It allows you to create articles, videos, and other content that is published with your name. It’s a great way to build your credibility. Consider providing commentary on your services. Dive deep into your industry’s innovations.
If you don’t have a strategy in place, your organization has no control. Relying on the in-the-moment events does not allow your business to control messages, create positive opportunities, or pivot when needed.
A lack of strategy also means that any steps you take are likely to be underperforming and inefficient. That is what often leads to overspending on PR. Yet, taking steps now to create a plan can help make your investment go further, creating much improved results.
Publish, Analyze, and Continue to Build
The next steps are where things become busy and involved. If you are working with an agency to help you with your PR, you’ll want to rely on them for all outreach and media efforts. You will need to do some research on your own to determine where your content is going. Look at competitors for some insights.
As you begin to launch data, you’ll want to monitor what happens with it. What are the results of this move? What’s working better than other methods or content types? The more data you have, the more effective you can tweak and improve your content and outreach to achieve your goals. It’s not common to hit 100 percent right out of the door.
You’ll need to make changes over time as factors change. That also helps with building consistency. To reach your audience, you need to put information out there – in multiple forms – on a consistent basis. More so, it takes time. When you are consistent over time and invest in enough quality content, you’ll get impressive results. Without consistency, your organization may not see the results you need.
Why Invest in Digital PR?
As you consider all of these steps, it can seem overwhelming. Yet, what comes from this process is worth it. It enables you to build your brand and develop a company (and an online presence for it) that achieves your mission and goals. It also allows you to become a leader in the industry you’re in. For many organizations, this is critical for those who want to topple big brands or those that want to build long-term success.