If you weren’t able to make it to our webinar earlier this month, Laura has summarised the key takeaways from her talk on why every digital-first brands needs a Digital PR strategy in 2023. You can download the full presentation here.
Over the last few years, Digital PR has become increasingly popular in the world of digital marketing – and for good reason. The benefits it can bring to your business are numerous, but some stakeholders may still need convincing on its impact and ability to transform a digital marketing strategy.
If you’re revising your digital strategies ahead of the new year and want to know how Digital PR can bolster your online marketing strategy, this guide should help you.
Depending on your level of experience with and exposure to Digital PR, you might have a skewed view of what it is and its purpose in the wider marketing mix. For example, I’ve worked in the industry for nearly seven years and my friends and family still think I’m either a journalist or work in advertising – neither of which is true!
Even industry bodies tend to have really vague definitions, like this one from the Digital Marketing Institute:
Whilst Digital PR does include a lot of different disciplines and tactics, and therefore has become a bit of an umbrella term in recent years, I think the best description of what we do is produce creative and engaging audience-focused content that will be used in relevant and authoritative media.
The emphasis on audience-focused content is the key here. It can be really tempting for brands to want to shoehorn their USPs and marketing jargon into the content we outreach and pitch to journalists. Many also simply just stick to topics and themes that are directly related to the products and services they offer. However, it’s important to think from the consumer and customer’s perspective and what they’re actually going to be interested in.
Digital PR content comes in many different guises. The format of the campaign will very much be decided on the actual content but it can typically look like:
If you want to get your brand in front of lots of people without coming across as too sales-y, that’s where Digital PR really comes into its own.
Think about it… media websites are some of the most frequently visited on the internet. Here are some figures to give you an idea of exactly how much traffic and how many visitors news sites are typically getting each month (figures taken from Similar Web):
So by gaining coverage and links in these titles, you have opportunities to get your brand seen by lots of new people and potential customers. If your content is only being seen by a fraction of the audiences flocking to these websites, we can safely assume that’s still hundreds, if not thousands of eyes on your brand.
It’s worth reiterating that Digital PR sits very much at the top of the typical marketing funnel in the all-important ‘awareness’ stage. We’re not typically trying to convert sales – although it can support those efforts long-term. Rather, what we want to do is tell stories and create content that engages, entertains and interests the average consumer, and therefore your potential customers.
In most cases, we’re planting a seed at the very early stages of the buying journey that subliminally says ‘this is the brand, and this is what they do.’
Digital PR is a key part of the puzzle when it comes to off-page SEO and search engine visibility more generally. It can really help increase your visibility in search engines by gaining quality links back to high-priority landing pages on your website.
These backlinks serve as signals or indicators to Google that another reputable resource (in most cases that’s the news and media sites that we’re pitching to and getting coverage and links on) finds your content valuable and useful enough to link to it within their own content. It’s essentially the ultimate online recommendation and vote of confidence. The more of these votes of confidence you have, the higher your site will rank in Google for key search terms.
To give you a real-world example of what this looks like, for our health and safety software client, Evotix, we’ve been pushing a lot of content that hones in on their technical expertise in the sector. We focused on health and safety in construction in particular, as that’s a really key market for them. Here are some examples of the kind of stories we’ve been writing and the types of media outlets we’ve been landing coverage and those all-important links:
Since adopting this strategy, we’ve managed to get one of Evotix’s most competitive keywords – construction ehs software – to jump 36 places in the UK rankings to position one, and in the US it’s also seen a 37-place increase to position five. They’re now ranking on that all-important first page in both countries!
When we’re planning campaigns and creating media lists, we want to select media outlets that are already a part of your audiences’ lives and day-to-day online activity. This means that they’re then naturally inclined to engage with the content, click the links, and want to know more., As a result, this increases the amount of traffic coming to your website. It’s as simple as that!
To give you an idea of what this looks like, the table below shows some of the results from a campaign we ran for a client in November 2022 that ended up being covered by pretty much all the national red tops, a few industry sites and a lot of the regional Reach PLC papers, too. But if we just take MSN and the Daily Mirror as examples, we can see that in the four days following the coverage and backlink going live, nearly 300 new users came to our client’s website from these two media outlets alone.
It’s important to build trust and authority both potential customers AND with Google. When it comes to building trust points with customers, we should consider WHY this is important.
Ultimately, trust and reputation come hand-in-hand and as we can see from this statistic, more than half of customers say that a company’s reputation impacts their decisions:
Consumers are more inundated with buying options than they ever have been, so they want to know that the companies they’re choosing to spend their hard-earned money are legitimate and trustworthy.
There are loads of different ways to build trust points with customers, but the way Digital PR can help is by pushing high-quality PR stories on authoritative websites. In doing this, you’re positioning your brand as a credible source of information, and experts in your industry. We also find that the more we do this, journalists start coming to us asking for our client’s thoughts and expertise on different subject matters and topics – so we’re building trust with the media, too. It’s a win-win situation!
Then from Google’s perspective, ultimately what it wants is to provide its users with the best possible search results – its success quite literally depends on it and that’s its overall aim. So for brands to perform well in the SERPs, they need to have earned a certain level of trust from Google. As with most things, unfortunately, there isn’t a magic button that you can press to achieve this – it has to be achieved over time.
In terms of measuring a website’s trustworthiness, Google’s algorithms are looking at various measurements but some of the main factors are things like:
Fortunately, all this can be achieved through a solid Digital PR and content strategy.
Over time, a consistent Digital PR strategy can help generate new leads, sales and overall business, but consistency is the key here. Unfortunately, there is no magic PR wand that you can wave and all of your targets and KPIs become a reality, so it’s best to regard Digital PR strategy as a marathon, not a sprint.
Occasionally, if we land a really fantastic media feature, then our clients see a short burst of sales and activity from people off the back of it, which is fantastic! But ultimately, if you’re hitting all the other points discussed above, the reality is that your sales and leads are going to increase as a result.