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- Why PR is important in a digital world
- How SEO is your digital PR magnet
- - The seven "must haves" of digital PR
HOW PR POWERS YOUR DIGITAL PRESENCE
There’s never been a better time to market a business or build a brand. With the right mix of creative marketing, business acumen and PR know-how, individuals and brands can turn a smart concept into a profitable venture for much less than it would have cost only a decade ago.
The reason? Digital marketing, which can not only reach more people at a fraction of the cost of traditional ad buys and direct marketing, but can actually help marketers track exactly what tactics are converting prospects into clients.
THE DIGITAL LANDSCAPE PUTS BRANDS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT.
Businesses have more ways than ever to communicate with their stakeholders: social media, blogs, videos, infographics, traditional and emerging media, and digital advertising. But without a strategy and plan in place, companies will be ill equipped to fully capitalize on the available opportunities.
Consumers are constantly bombarded with messages and noise, so it’s incumbent on businesses to hone their message and share it in the right channels. Yes, that includes digital-only avenues like corporate blogs and social media. But brands still need the credibility that comes from a feature in The Wall Street Journal or an appearance on CNBC. Traditional and new media work hand-in-hand, with the former providing credibility while the latter provides opportunity for engagement and keeping the brand narrative alive.
WHY PR IS IMPORTANT IN A DIGITAL WORLD
Many brands—like many people—are wary of online engagement, fearful that they’ll commit a faux pas, anger some segment of their audience or simply become a target for online trolling. But ignoring online communities, social media and digital platforms—even with their potential pitfalls—is still a mistake.
Every point of appearance online connects your brand to hundreds, if not thousands or millions, of other bits of information that all add up to your overall brand presence. If that information isn’t aligned with your brand strategy and narrative, you could soon have a reputational issue on your hands. PR drives digital influence by putting credibility at the center of a brand’s online presence and pushing out positive sentiment in a variety of ways:
- Traditional media continues to play an important role in building brands online. These outlets still get the lion’s share of organic traffic and lend their credibility to the brands they feature in editorial coverage.
- Increasingly, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are themselves mainstream news engines, referring readers and viewers to online news sites to get the deeper story. By not promoting press wins through social channels, brands are losing out on a critical ability to reach and resonate with would-be clients.
- Corporate blogs and multimedia newsrooms can help package disparate press pieces into one succinct platform for readers and viewers. This reassembling of content not only boosts search engine results, when properly optimized it can help spark new platforms to make inroads with traditional media.
SEO: YOUR DIGITAL PR MAGNET
If content drives the conversation, search engine optimization (SEO) acts as the landmarks and sign posts directing you along the way.
Effective SEO is part art, part science—a blend of strategically chosen and ever-expanding keywords, well-written content, on-page coding, back-end development and off-page search. As search engines get more particular and adapt to the way millions of people use their algorithms to find what they’re looking for, it can be difficult to know what the best approach is for staying at the top of the SEO pack.
There are constant updates, but the basics haven’t changed much in the past few years. To improve your brand’s SEO, consider the following:
- Develop a prioritized list of targeted search terms related to your business or industry. Review competitive lists to get a sense of what terms are most popular to your target audience (and think about how you can tweak them to make them your own). Working with an SEO-focused partner can help crystallize your online differentiators and avoid months, if not years, of delay in setting the right strategy for your brand.
- Find out exactly what you're already doing right and where you need some help. There are tons of free online SEO analyzers and if you’re working with an SEO partner, they can help establish a baseline that will show the efficacy of future work.
- Know which ranking factors matter most. Mobile friendliness, perceived value, usage data, readability and design are all critical. Anchor text and paid links are on their way out. Not sure what those terms mean? Read this guide to getting started in SEO to learn more.
- Create your own "net" by linking your content to other key pieces, creating a web of information that moves prospects through the sales funnel. These links will also help boost the credibility of your pages and if you have outside links to press articles, they can help you leapfrog to the top of the SEO pack.
- Review your link strategy to ensure inbound and outbound links are relevant to your business.
- Consider adding search engine marketing (SEM) tactics, like retargeting ads, to your marketing mix.
THE SEVEN “MUST HAVES” OF DIGITAL PR
In order to make digital PR work, you have to assemble the following puzzle pieces:
- A clearly defined set of objectives will help prioritize and visualize exactly what you’re trying to achieve. Knowing where you’re going will help you optimize your efforts along the way.
- Research where your target audiences live online. Identify the media outlets and social media platforms they read and visit frequently and meet them on their own turf. Creating buyer personas and client profiles will help you assess these properties and guide you in impactful content creation.
- Relentless communications with influencers in your industry—whether bloggers, journalists or other go-to professionals who are active on social media—is key to amplifying your efforts.
- A steadfast commitment to a consistent brand story will protect your brand against marketplace and media whims. A “playbook” with dos and don’ts helps everyone on your team stay focused and on message.
- Proactive positioning of your spokespeople as high-value experts devoted to making your industry better, stronger and more integrity-driven can help them move up the call list when reporters need sources and gives you a platform for all your outreach.
- Content, content and more content. Whether it’s written, visual, video or in 140 characters, you need to create strategic editorial calendars and pump out quality content to get attention for your point of view.
- ROI is essential—so you must monitor your results. Tracking the effectiveness of your efforts through analytics, CRM and inbound programs can help shape your strategy in the future, in addition to telling you what has worked in the past.
Today’s digital environment makes your message resonate further and last longer than at any other time in history. If you aren’t seizing the digital PR opportunity, you are ceding precious ground to your competitors and inviting the larger online universe—reporters, bloggers, influencers, clients and customers—to set the tone. When you build your brand online, you are in the driver’s seat, steering your business toward growth and opportunity.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Need help navigating the complexities of digital marketing?
JConnelly is here to help. Contact Carinna Perez, Senior Director of Marketing Strategy, to learn more.
CPEREZ@JCONNELLY.COM or call us at 973-850-7328
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