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What is Digital PR?

What is Digital PR?

Last week, I was honored to be a featured guest on the national PRSA New Pros Twitter chat, talking about digital public relations and how it impacts the PR industry – one of my favorite topics.

One of the first questions that was asked was this:

How do you define digital PR and what strategies are vital for success?

growth-of-digital-prPR has changed massively; it isn’t just about media relations and churning out press releases like it used to be a decade ago.

Digital PR is all about combining traditional PR with content marketing, social media and search: transforming static news into conversations and bypassing media to speak directly to your target audience online.

News can be spread further, faster, and more directly to a specific target audience than ever before in history. It allows us to maximize news like never before. Instead of being satisfied with a single placement, your news can be shared exponentially.

Not only that, but we can now use social media, blogs, reviews and content to not just share news, but CREATE DIALOGUE. Connect.

Repurpose + Value = Content Marketing

As a PR pro, one way to incorporate content marketing into your mix is to repurpose content you already have (press releases & bylines) into fresh content. A single press release can be re-purposed into a Slideshare presentation, a blog post, a guest blog post, a Pinterest infographic, a LinkedIn news update, a post on a relevant trade publications Facebook page, an editorial opinion article for the local newspaper’s website and more.

Share, re-purpose, share again – and repeat the same process a few more times! One piece of content can flow out to multiple sources.

Instead of simply putting your press release on the wire, turn it into a blog post that connects the news to an engaging viewpoint; use it as the launchpad to discuss a related issue, educate, or dive into a juicy Q&A. Find ways to take an offline PR campaign to social… and vice versa.

When you re-purpose, don’t simply rewrite the piece. Go one step further to transform your news braggadocio into content that provides VALUE. As stated so eloquently in the book, Youtility (hitting bookstores in late June),

Don’t be useful in a Trojan-horse, ‘infomercial that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch’ way, but in a genuine ‘how can we actually help you?’ way.”  ~ Jay Baer

Goodbye, Silo’s – Hello, Cross-Promotion

Today’s PR doesn’t allow for silos. Content marketing, search engine optimization, social media, customer service – all of these things are blended into the total solution that we are responsible for. If you don’t know the basics, there is no time like the present to dive in.

Once you have your content underway – take it even further with the second major piece of digital PR: SEO. This particular function should not belong to the IT silo, or the web programmer silo – it’s a marketing function that should cross into all PR activity. Even if it isn’t  yet deliberate, it’s having an impact by virtue of what you are publishing online – and you  can boost your impact by taking a mindful approach, instead of accidental.

Integrate search keywords to expose your news to those who are searching for similar content. Use your keyword research to drive trends press releases, byline articles and blog posts, and learn how to correctly integrate keywords into each piece of writing for maximum impact.

Then share it like crazy on social media! The third piece of the content/search/social trifecta (in no particular order). And, for heaven’s sake, learn how to build Twitter lists so you can monitor journalists on Twitter. (See this excellent MuckRack article on this topic) It’s a “must know” skill for all PR pros.

Everyone knows that social is a serious piece of “creating relationships with the public” (the core definition of public relations, right?). For the last five years, social media has impacted brand visibility with the force of a tsunami. Take advantage of it to share your content.

Be curious… insatiable in your thirst for knowledge!

Learn, learn, learn. It’s never been more important to ALWAYS continue learning – fresh skills are critical to your success as a marketing or public relations professional. Whether you are a seasoned pro or brand new to the industry – challenge yourself to constantly learn and apply new skills/technology to what you are doing, and adapt processes to fit your environment. It is critical to invest in YOU.

If you want to continue learning, book time like a reoccurring meeting. #makeitapriority

About Carrie Morgan

Senior digital PR consultant - public relations, content marketing, social media & SEO. Author. Speaker. Feisty word nerd. #PRprochat founder.

Mayda Bakri
Mayda Bakri 5pts

Hi Carrie, Thanks for this post. You've managed to give a simple and clear explanation of what digital PR is. I have a feeling that most people think it is a fad but it really isn't. This discipline is quite new and, like you said, PR pros need to keep up to pace with the latest developments in SEO, social media and web content. What I like the most about your post is your advice to keep learning. Digital PR lie at the crossroads where many disciplines meet. This is what makes it all the more interesting.

morgancarrie 5pts

Hi, Mayda - it's definitely not a fad! I'm glad you found this article useful. =) You might like the #PRprosChat on Twitter (formerly #PhxPR) - it is the first Thursday of every month at noon (Arizona time). The next one is May 2nd on SEO for PR. I would love to have you join us!

Kelly Hungerford
Kelly Hungerford 5pts

Hi Carrie, Your post makes me think about just how distributed the role of PR has become across positions. Now that "everyone" is a publisher digital PR has really taken on a life of its own with every employee and every outwardly facing department or spokesperson. I guess this means even a much tighter collaboration between the person and department that heads up PR in a company and the other departments, business units or individuals ( depending on how small or large the organization is) What type of changes are you seeing in terms of communication between PR pros and other members of teams or departments? There is a lot to consider when speaking about digital PR in today's world. Thanks for the great food for thought!

Jan Roessner
Jan Roessner 5pts

Hi Carrie, hi Kelly, first I wanted to thank you, Carrie, for your great post. Kelly, from my perspective, it is inevitable that modern times PR unclenches and invites a wider community to tell the corporate story. That is what customers and editors demand. On the other hand, there will still be an ongoing relationship building process between the PR department and the press. But today it is not only established newspapers that count. It is blogs, communities, and networks. The future role of the company's PR department - besides creating press releases - is twofold: 1. they have to provide a holistic guideline to the management to let them tell the employees what to do and what not. 2. they have to organize their releases. It is all about timing. Use all channels but distribute wisely and well timed to built trust and reliability I think there are exciting times ahead of us and I am eager to see what comes next. Thank you!

morgancarrie 5pts

Good morning, Kelly and Jan - great comments! I agree that introducing brands as publishers has created fresh challenges for PR professionals, whether their company is large or small. It's bringing down silos in an unprecedented manner. At the same time, it is raising the bar for consumer expectations and driving a groundswell of change that is a HUGE improvement to push/interruptive marketing of the past. For the large companies, some of the primary challenges are pulling internal teams together to share the responsibility for content development, managing quality control and brand messaging, and up-selling content marketing to management when there isn't always a direct line to ROI. The content marketing piece of digital PR can have a long and indirect pipeline to revenue and lead generation.It just doesn't have the same "instant gratification" that traditional PR has. Same with social media - it's planting the seed, leaving that trail of breadcrumbs so they think of you when they are finally ready to buy. Building the relationship. It is also very challenging to manage the volume of what is needed, so getting buy-in across the organization is critical. For the small company, writing skills are a major challenge, more so than communication between PR and others. The publishing side of PR requires high-quality content, or the results just won't be there. When the company is small and there are not talented writers on the team, success really flounders. The second largest challenge for small companies that I repeatedly come across is time management - setting client expectations and managing time within a retainer so you can do everything that needs to be done. Retainers seem to shrink while expectations just keep expanding. Controlling that along every step of the way is essential to keep your client happy and focused in the right areas. It's not only about doing the work, but training your client how to do it, too, so it is a team effort.

Kelly Hungerford
Kelly Hungerford 5pts

Hi Jan and Carrie, Thanks to you both for sharing your thoughts. The topic is fascinating and although I am not traditionally from a 'PR' background, it is incredible how I have seen my role as marketer (and everything else) within a small company naturally shift towards taking certain tasks on within our company, PR being one of them. The difference of how we would have (and did!) release news about our product three years ago and how it is distributed today is night and day different. Great post Carrie and, again, thanks for surfacing the digital PR topic. There are so many angles to tackle and I've only just begun with the most basic question!


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