Digital PR has grown in popularity as a term used to describe the creative process of gaining a business online press coverage.
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But while many businesses are already choosing to invest, for some, the discussion around whether or not to invest in digital PR - and, indeed, what it even is! - is still very open. Here, we’ll explore what it is, why businesses are investing and how to get started in digital PR for yourself.
What is digital PR?
The premise of digital PR is that it calls on the techniques of traditional PR, in line with the goals set within SEO, or search engine optimisation.
The idea is that a digital PR professional will either use news already occurring in your business or, more commonly, helping you to create news by utilising a variety of techniques combined with their knowledge of the press and what will work well for journalists.
As a discipline, it’s still in its relative infancy - though Google search data suggests that searches for it have increased significantly since 2018. But in spite of that, its growth as an aspect of digital marketing has been widely documented.
The work a digital PR does typically revolves around campaigns whereby each campaign comprises an aspect of asset creation and promotion. For example, a digital PR campaign might:
Analyse existing data sets to identify newsworthy insights that are then visualised and promoted to the press
Identify new data sets in the form of information requests or running a survey in order to create compelling news hooks
Create interactive tools or fun games to engage audiences and achieve an element of ‘virality’
Bring together lists, tips or trends from platforms like Instagram, Google Trends or opinion pieces for a newsworthy angle
Use ‘thought leadership’ techniques to secure comment opportunities and guest post placements on behalf of key spokespeople
Why are businesses investing in digital PR?
Digital PR was born of the discipline of SEO, or search engine optimisation. SEO is all about increasing the visibility of a website in the Google / Bing search results so more people access the website and the business makes more sales and more money.
Put simply, SEO is split between on page considerations including technical implementation and the content of content, and off page considerations, where the number of other websites talking about your site and, more importantly, linking to it as a hyperlink, the greater the site’s propensity to appear higher up the search results.
It’s this off page consideration that originally drove digital PR’s growth; through digital PR, you would expect that the coverage achieved in the press would also include links to your site, hence digital PR being a key part of improving your search visibility overall.
Of course, links aren’t the only benefit of digital PR. Expect your digital PR team to fully understand your business and therefore to help you land features in the publications read by your audience. Digital PR in this sense helps support the broadening of your audience, too.
Getting started with digital PR
You don’t need huge budgets to get started in digital PR (though the more you have to spend, the more you can do). Here are some simple ways to get started yourself:
Identify spokespeople; find out who in your business is an expert in what they do and also who is willing to be put forward to provide comments on that topic to the press
Follow #journorequest and #prrequest on Twitter; these are hashtags used by the media to find people to provide comment on a story - you might find opportunities for your spokepeople which can lead to coverage and links
Review your own data; what data do you hold (legitimately) from which you can draw trends and insights? Do you have, for example, any sales data which shows trends across the year, that might be newsworthy?
Find new data sources; there is a lot of data freely available for businesses to use - check out whatdotheyknow.org for Freedom of Information requests that might be of interest or follow the ONS to find data on which you might provide comment or further insight
Be aware of your own stories; if there are things happening in your business - whether its new hires or a new office or an award win - you should be aware and make the time to promote the story to relevant local press or sector specific publications
Of course, you might also decide to invest in digital PR expertise; there are plenty of agencies and individuals out there who can help, so have a browse around to see who’s best suited to you, your aspirations and your way of working.