Digital PR is an evolution of traditional PR practices and concepts, adapting them for a new digital landscape. With newspapers and media going online, PR can’t afford to be left behind but in this new almost uncharted digital landscape, how do you know you’re going about it the right way?
This is RiceMedia’ 5 Dos and Don’ts of Digital PR, our handy straightforward and detailed guide to help you develop your company’s online presence and reputation successfully, and drive sales. When all that is said and done, it is all about building and sustaining a company’s growth.
Don’t Expect it to be All About Social Media
If you’re just posting photos onto Facebook and chasing retweets from celebrities, you’re not doing digital PR, you’re just wasting time that can be benefiting your business. Just because it’s digital PR, it’s not all about social media.
Digital PR, just like traditional PR and media relations, is about building relationships and communicating. While social media is a marvelous way of communicating with your audience, it is not the only way. You’ll find your time divided up between researching and creating content to outreaching it to bloggers or media outlets and analysing the impact that content has created.
Don’t Rely on Emails
Emails are awful ways to communicate. You can ignore hundreds of emails each day and many do. It can get lost in a spam or junk folder. It can be lost in a stack of other emails. It is an easily forgettable way to communicate to another person.
That’s why a phone call, when possible, is the best way to outreach and pitch. It’s fast and direct, you cannot be ignored, not without saying your piece. Then after you’ve made that initial call and if successful, you send a follow up email with details.
Contacting via twitter is a good way to make an introduction but it’s a different, more public way of contacting someone. So be cautious. Imagine having a conversation on a busy high street with megaphones, you’re clearly in the public eye.
Don’t Just Start Throwing Money at People
As you begin networking and building relationships with bloggers, podcasters, vloggers and influencers, you’re going to be bombarded with media packs and rates for sponsored content or paid advertising. Just like buying a car, don’t buy the first one you see, just because you like the look of it or it has a good price. You’ve got to check under the bonnet.
They might be boasting 10,000 views a month or over 15,000 followers on twitter but that’s only the tip of the iceberg and it’s worth looking under the water’s surface, ask questions.
Having a large number of followers doesn’t guarantee a large conversion, so it’s good to look into how much of their audience actually engage with them? If not, their followers might be dormant or, though they follow that influencer, his or her audience just can’t engage with them. Whether it’s their content or their own website, it means they’re less likely to pay attention to any content or collaboration you do together.
That’s why digital PR agencies like ourselves use tools like Buzzsumo, Searchmetrics or Followerwonk to analyse the websites and social profiles, providing a clearer picture of their followers, how often they interact and engage with that person, building a clearer picture of who are you collaborating with.
Also, if one of your goals is to improve your site’s SEO, paid or sponsored content reflects badly on Google, so avoid this at all costs.
Don’t Believe Press Releases Are Dead
This is an old saying and, by the look of things, people won’t stop saying it. “Press Releases are Dead.” No, they’re not. Bad press releases are dead. Good press releases have gotten better.
Just like PR, press releases have evolved, gone digital, streamlined to maximise engagement and success with writers and influencers. Here’s a few ways how.
- They’re rarely attached documents but part of the body of the email, less problems converting documents and less likely to get binned in spam
- Images are shared by being uploaded to another site (imagur) and links shared in press releases
- Links are embedded as some writers are hard working, while others are not so much and simply copy-paste chunks of the press release into an article; at least this way, you’re guaranteed links
These little tricks and tactics are all there to help get your press release read and content published.
Don’t Use Template Emails
There is nothing worse, especially when outreaching and trying to engage with bloggers and journalists, than a template email. They’re the kind of email, after reading the first line, you sigh, asking ‘why do people send me this rubbish!?’ and just bin it.
The right kind of digital PR agencies start a conversation with a blogger, journalist or influencer with a phone call and a pitch. Establishing that first point of contact and feeding them enough of a story to get them hooked, wanting to know more. Why would you let all that hard work go to waste with some half hearted template email?
It’s incredibly counterproductive and destories the possible relationship with that person, that you could not do them the courtesy of writing them a proper email with the information they have requested. The vital follow up email should be tailored to the conversation on the phone, so they’re supplied with the information they want and need.
Do Set Goals, Targets and KPIs
People get excited and often just jump straight in with no thought on your targets or goals. It’s the first thing you want to do before you even think of budgeting or think of content, you’d want to set performance indicators. This allows you to measure the effectiveness of your campaign, see what you’re doing right and where you’re going wrong, allowing you to adjust and adapt it.
So you need to ask yourself, what do I want to achieve?
This is something you will go into in your initial meeting with an agency and will later review between campaigns, helping you set out those goals, targets and KPIs, analysing how you’ve met them or why not.
Do Measure Performance
Google Analytics is not just important, it’s vital to digital PR. One of the big selling points about digital PR is that, when any money is spent on behalf of clients, you can prove how much that money has brought in directly from that piece of content or press. Before, there was much speculation to whether a campaign was effective or not but with tools like Google Analytics, you can be accounted for every penny spent. It is so detailed, you can physically map out the process a client or customer makes through your site that resulted in a buy. This allows you to clearly adapt your strategy and develop it further.
Tools like Google Analytics, Buzzsumo & SearchMetrics are used by digital PR agencies as they can provide with clear, detailed reports on their progress and the results they achieve. Also, with those detailed reports, it makes agencies accountable to their clients. Clients can see where an agency’s time and their money has gone in a campaign, being able to track the response and the value it’s created. This allows clients to truly see if they’re getting value for their money.
Do Have an Exit Strategy For Bad PR
Mistakes happen and there is always some repuccions. That’s fine, that’s natural, it’s all about you handle that bad PR, the bad press and an unhappy public, which will define you as a brand. In our digital age with everyone with social media, when bad press strikes, the public can strike bad directly and publicly, causing a snowball effect of bad PR.
That’s why, when things are going well, it down with a digital PR agency and take an hour to develop an exit strategy or plan to handle a number of different likely and unlikely scenarios.
Why do this in the good times? Because, when you’re under attack, you don’t want to be trying to think up a plan of defence on the spot. It’s going to be rushed, you won’t have enough time to think of all eventualities, which could cause more miscommunications and making the situation more difficult.
Hence why it would be good to have a set of plans or guidelines ready to implement when something goes wrong as well as a good way to test your digital PR agency as it demonstrates how much experience they have and if they’re the right agency for you.
Nothing in life comes quick and easy, it takes hard work, trial and error, and patience. This applies to digital PR.
Agencies could contact and outreach to ten different bloggers but only get two responding and publishing their content, now that campaign can’t be called a success but when it’s time to outreach for the next campaign, you’ve identified two influencers who like your company, your product or services, and want to publish content from you in the future. Each campaign can not be defined as a either big victory or a big failure but each one, a small victory in increasing your company’s brand and reputation online.
As an agency completes each campaign, building this strong network of influencers, as long as they are adding to this growing network, you can consider it a success.
Do Think Outside the Box
Digital PR agencies are competing in a vicious contest in finding new ways in outreaching and creating content that engages with your audience. Agencies who simply go through the motions, are not trying to be innovative or develop themselves, they’re simply recycling a strategy or campaign they’ve used with dozens of clients before you and, in all honesty, you’re not getting value for money. Staying with a static agency means you’re going to be left behind while your competitors are beating you to your audience; you’re paying that agency to hold you back.
One of our client’s, Diamond Heaven, a bespoke jewellers, we’ve helped develop & innovative new ways to engage with their audience. Recently we’ve developed not only a downloadable guide, but also an interactive quiz for them. Straightaway, it’s content that invites the audience to engage and, by including an email opt in with the content provided a way for Diamond Heaven to build up their email subscriber base.
These campaigns were supported with a careful Social Media Advertising campaign, resulting in an amazing response and massive growth with traffic to their site.
You’ll want an agency that looks for these opportunities and think outside the box. Even if you don’t sign off to every idea they develop, it’s reassuring to know they’re looking for those chances and trying to push to boat out to how they represent your brand.