By definition PR, or public relations, refers to the strategic communication from an organisation to the public to maintain or cultivate public image and/or respond to public discourse. PR as a profession is constantly evolving and in recent years, digital PR has boomed.
But what can digital PRs learn from traditional PR? I recently joined NORTH as a Digital PR Consultant, transitioning from a traditional PR role and have identified four key learnings.
But first things first, let’s break it down.
What is traditional PR?
By definition, traditional PR is a direct approach to public relations that utilises conventional channels, including print, television and radio to increase brand awareness.
What is digital PR?
Digital PR is a tactic used to increase brands’ online presence and focuses on online coverage only. Its purpose is to improve online performance, increase brand awareness, website visibility and build highly authoritative backlinks to ramp up your SEO efforts and climb up the SERP.
How can we use traditional PR practices in our digital PR strategy?
Though crucial to SEO, digital PR isn’t just about building links. Similar to traditional PR, it helps build brand awareness and trust in your brand. Almost always, a combination of the two will achieve the best results but there are a number of key learnings that digi PRs can learn from traditional PR.
1) Building relationships with journalists
PR is all about building lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with journalists to land coverage in reputable and relevant publications. Traditional PRs tend to work with companies who want coverage in local newspapers, this means that they need to have a good relationship with key journalists as the media landscape is much smaller.
As a starter for ten, build a list of key journalists relevant to your client and make sure to tailor each pitch to that specific journalist. If it is someone you haven’t worked with before, drop them an email sharing key details about your client, any key spokespeople and topics they would be willing to talk about. This is a great way to start building relationships and get your clients name out there, with the ultimate goal of the journalists coming to you for expert comment.
‘Become the go-to expert in your field and hopefully the journalist will come to you’
2) Identify key spokespeople
For traditional PR practitioners, a bank of key spokespeople is vital to success. This could be someone to strengthen a press release by providing a quote, or an expert comment reacting to a trending news story.
You’ll often find with brands there is a lot of untapped potential in house. A key spokesperson could be a Managing Director, an accredited professional (think Doctor, Nutritionist), a brand ambassador or an in-house expert. If a company is struggling to identify a key spokesperson, you can send a call out on Twitter or a tool like ResponseSource to strengthen your digital PR campaign.
A pre-signed off quote bank is also a key tactic digi PRs can learn from traditional PR. This is a bank of content already signed off and ready to go based on commonly asked questions and key themes in your industry. This could be based on regular events, tied around key Government dates like the budget or awareness days.
Once you find out who is willing to comment, you can take it one step further by putting together a press pack. A press pack is made up of a headshot, short bio, relevant links, topics relevant to your key spokespeople and/or brand and contact details. When building those relationships with journos, it’s great to have this information on how to show what’s relevant and what you want to comment on.
3) Product PR
Traditional PR is often used to promote new and existing products in the form of product pages and gift guides in magazines and newspapers. More often than not, these are also available on digital platforms and tend to be centred around key awareness days, from Mother’s and Father’s Day to Christmas and New Year.
You can identify relevant online opportunities by using the hashtag #JournoRequest on Twitter, signing up to a media response service like ResponseSource or manually researching relevant gift guides that are already live. Make a note of those journalists and plot out upcoming opportunities over the following year, ready to contact them when necessary.
4) Identify forward feature opportunities
Forward features are the editorial calendars created by publications to plan content coming up throughout the year. They usually comprise a list of topics with descriptions, deadlines for submission of content and publication dates. This also indicates what type of content certain publications are after and you can repurpose and target digital PR campaigns based on what the journos are after.
Outlets across the media landscape use forward features to request PR materials and content, so they can provide a simple route to securing earned media coverage. In digital PR, it’s important to highlight online opportunities only.
The Vuelio Media Database is a great tool which allows you to find upcoming features by keyword but broad terms, such as ‘IT’ or ‘technology’, can be applicable to a number of different industries. Work out what unique keywords match your aims and identify and remove irrelevant categories from your search.
For more tips on how to maximise your link building efforts, head over to the NORTH blog or learn about our digital PR services.