Digital PR 101: The Basics, Tools, and Strategies

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Digital PR is something every business should be investing in, if not to protect and elevate their brand reputation, then to enhance their SEO and traffic potential. For decades, an excellent public relations strategy has been essential to building a successful brand. 

The evolution of the digital world and new marketing channels simply means the landscape has shifted from a focus on magazine articles and billboards to social media campaigns and blogs. 

More than just a tool for maintaining the favorable image of your company, digital PR can be crucial to increasing conversion rates and separating you from your competition. It also helps enhance the ROI of your other marketing efforts, boosting brand awareness and supporting lead generation.

So, what exactly does digital PR involve, how can you access it successfully, and what are the benefits? Here’s everything you need to know about digital public relations.  

What is Digital PR? Digital Public Relations

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Digital PR, or Digital Public Relations, is a set of marketing strategies and initiatives designed to raise brand awareness and promote your online presence. It’s not too similar to standard “Public Relations” – the goal of which is to influence how people and communities perceive your brand.

The main difference is that with digital PR, you use a range of online platforms, from your own website to social media channels, virtual publications, and video channels, to achieve results. 

Successful digital PR strategies enhance your visibility and open the door for growth via improved backlinks, social mentions, and referral traffic. As for what’s involved in digital public relations, the strategies and tactics used can be practically endless. 

Companies work with PR specialists, agencies, and even freelancers to:

  • Prepare digital press releases and share them with relevant publications.
  • Build relationships with thought leaders, influencers, and journalists.
  • Collect and share reviews, testimonials, and user-generated content.
  • Engage in interviews and collaborative content with other thought leaders.
  • Create content that enhances the appearance and visibility of the brand.
  • Earn backlinks and referrals from other well-known organizations. 
  • Monitor, protect, and improve the brand’s reputation. 

Why is Digital PR Important?

Social network concept

As mentioned above, traditional “public relations” activities have always been essential to the success of growing brands. PR strategies boost your visibility, improve brand equity, and gain recognition from your target audience, leading the way for increased revenue and sales.

Digital PR delivers all of these benefits, as well as some additional bonuses in today’s web-focused world. With the right digital PR strategy, companies can:

1. Increased Brand Awareness and Visibility

Probably the biggest benefit and purpose of digital PR is to increase brand awareness and attract more potential customers to your business. A well-shaped PR strategy will highlight the core benefits of your brand, products, and services to your target audience, differentiating you from competitors.

The right PR strategy also gives you authority and trust, thanks to references and recommendations from other well-known organizations. With the right media coverage, you can not only get more eyes on your content and business news, but you can also improve your reputation on a massive scale. 

Authoritative endorsements from well-known media outlets are some of the best advertisements your company can access. They’re often seen as more authentic and trustworthy than any content you could produce yourself, too. 

2. Improve SEO Results

While the main aim of digital public relations is to elevate and improve your brand’s image, the right process can have a significant impact on your SEO potential. Most digital PR strategies involve content creation, which improves your chances of ranking for keywords. 

This content, if created correctly, also improves your domain authority and encourages customers to stay on your website for longer, interacting with your content. 

The biggest benefit of digital PR for SEO, however, comes from the ability to drive valuable backlinks to your website. Companies covering your brand’s content in news stories or referencing your latest data drive valuable traffic back to your website. 

What’s more, pages with more backlinks naturally gain a higher ranking in the search results. Any page’s Google search traffic is often strongly correlated with the number of sites linking back to it, particularly if those sites have existing authority. 

3. Uncover Valuable Insights

Learning as much as you can about your target audience, their preferences, pain points, and perceptions of your brand is crucial to driving growth. A significant part of digital PR involves paying close attention to what people think and feel about your company. 

To ensure you can protect your brand identity and send the right message to your target audience, you’ll usually access a variety of tools. Social media scheduling and analytics tools can offer insights into your target audience and their background. Monitoring tools allow you to keep track of brand mentions and reviews from a range of environments. 

The data you collect not only helps you protect your brand from damage but also offers a useful insight into your target audience at a time when collecting customer data is becoming more difficult. 

4. Boost Traffic, Sales, and Leads

Since digital public relations help to improve your search engine rankings, give you more backlinks, and boost your visibility, they also have a direct impact on your website traffic. You can quickly see an increase in visitors to your websites, driven by other companies and influencers, as well as your own carefully crafted content. 

The referrals you get to your website can also be easier to convert into paying customers than the average person browsing for a solution online. If a customer clicks on a link from a press release about your business, there’s a good chance they’re already interested in whatever you offer. 

What’s more, if you can demonstrate authority and expertise through a well-structured brand, you’ll increase your chances of earning high-quality leads that turn into long-lasting customers.

5. Develop Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is becoming increasingly crucial in today’s competitive world. With countless new companies emerging in every industry all the time, consumers are actively looking for evidence they can trust the companies they buy from. 

While any company can produce insightful content showcasing expertise, having that content promoted or shared by other authority companies gives it a significant credibility boost. Digital PR offers an opportunity to encourage other brands to present you as an expert on your behalf.

This builds trust between you and the people you want to serve and gives you a more powerful brand image overall. Plus, the more coverage you get, the more likely it is customers will see you as a reputable source of information. 

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Digital Public Relations Strategies: 5 Powerful Ideas

Digital PR strategies can include everything from producing and sharing press releases with digital publications to building your own thought leadership campaigns. There’s no one-size-fits-all method for choosing the right strategy, but some methods do seem to deliver consistent results. 

Here are 5 strategy options, with examples, to inspire you.

1. Reactive PR

Reactive PR is a form of earned media content strategy that boosts your chances of being featured by specific publications and companies. Journalists and writers post a query for articles they’re writing on a site like Haro (Help a Reporter Out) or a social media group. 

You respond with valuable information they can use in their article, and they reward you with a backlink to your website. This is an excellent way to build E-E-A-T scores for your business and capture more authority links to your website. 

You can see plenty of examples of success stories on the website to inspire you. One point to keep in mind here is that Haro is often quite saturated with “sources,” so it’s worth looking into different options, like industry-focused forums and social media groups. 

You can also consider options like “Terkel,” which provides queries for various high-authority media outlets in the UK and US. Alternatively, there are plenty of paid platforms to consider, such as JustReachOut, Muck Rack, and JournoLink. 

If you need a little help figuring out which queries to respond to, you can use SEO research tools like Ahrefs to check a site’s domain rating and average traffic. Just remember, whenever you do respond, the key to success is providing as much valuable information and guidance as possible.

2. Data-Led Proactive Campaigns

Journalists and other media outlets love reporting on new data. There are few things more informative and useful than a set of statistics or a behind-the-scenes study from a leading company. A great way to take advantage of this fact is to find out what your customers are interested in and conduct a study.

For instance, at a time when generative AI and large language models are rapidly making their way into all aspects of the workplace, interest in the benefits of Gen AI has increased. AWS capitalized on this interest by conducting a study into how many telcos are adopting generative AI tools. 

A close-up of a graph of communication service providers

This gave the company an innovative way to showcase its new investments in the AI world while providing users with access to valuable information. 

The key to success with this strategy is to find something newsworthy that you can research. You’ll need to make sure you not only have a good topic idea but also have access to the resources you need to collect proprietary data. 

3. Sharing Press Releases

Sharing news is one of the best ways to make the most of your digital PR strategy. All forms of news can capture the attention of both your target audience and media outlets. For instance, if you’ve just launched a new service, won an award, or merged with another company, that’s all great news. 

You can share your news on your own website like we did here when we were announcing our new tech-powered platform for finding and managing freelancers:

A screenshot of a Growth Collective website blog

You can also directly reach out to publications in your industry to see whether they’d be interested in covering your story. It’s important to have the right strategy in place when conducting outreach, so remember to:

  • Follow their guidelines: Most publications will have pre-set formatting guidelines and rules you need to follow when sharing press releases. Make sure you read up on the structure you’ll need to follow before submitting your release. 
  • Connect with the right outlets: Do your research into news publications and outlets that are relevant to your industry and target audience. You want to attract the attention of the right people, not just as many people as possible.
  • Offer something unique: Boost your chances of being featured by a publication by offering them something exclusive. For instance, create different quotes from business leaders for each publication or offer access to an interview opportunity. 

4. Launch a Creative Campaign

Data and interesting news are both excellent ways to capture the attention of journalists. However, they’re not the only way to optimize your digital public relations strategy. Consumers are becoming exhausted with standard, traditional marketing campaigns. 

That’s why sometimes it makes sense to do something a little unique. Creative campaigns, which involve partnering with other unusual businesses, or bold visuals are great at capturing attention. For instance, Absolut and Heinz joined forces to create a new pasta sauce

The partnership seemed a little unusual at first, but it made a lot of sense in the long term, allowing both companies to connect with a wider audience. To market the partnership, the company created a range of unique and eye-catching visuals to share through publications and online.

Heinz and Absolut Collab For Tomato Vodka Sauce | Dieline - Design,  Branding & Packaging Inspiration

Plus, the company also engaged the support of influencers to generate hype and demand. The result led to the product becoming a viral success, earning 500 million impressions on social media. Some jars even ended up on eBay. 

5. Newsjacking

This digital PR strategy requires speed and precision, as well as a creative mind, so it’s worth working with a professional if you’re just getting started. Newsjacking is all about monitoring news stories relevant to your industry as they break and jumping on them. 

For instance, ZDNet immediately took advantage of the hype around Microsoft Ignite and the announcement of new “Microsoft Copilots” to create a news story offering insights into what Copilots are and how they work. 

PR professionals frequently use this tactic to place brands at the heart of a trending topic and boost their appearance as thought leaders. You will need a few tools to help you out, though. For instance, setting up Google Alerts to notify you about trending topics in your industry will ensure you can quickly respond and take advantage of market momentum. 

How to Develop Your Own Digital PR Strategy

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If you’re thinking of investing in digital public relations to boost your own online presence and brand visibility, getting started is relatively simple. Here are some of the steps you’ll need to follow to put your plan into action. 

Step 1: Set your Goals

The first step in developing any valuable digital PR strategy is knowing what you want to accomplish. Overall, the broader goals of your digital public relations campaign will likely be to increase brand awareness and improve your reputation with customers. 

However, it’s worth thinking about the smaller goals connected to each campaign, too. For instance, do you want to generate excitement for a new product launch? Are you trying to position yourself as an expert in your field and gain more trust?

Do you want to boost your chances of retaining customers by showcasing your commitment to excellent customer service? Setting the right targets will help you determine which content you want to create, where to publish it, and what to promote. 

Remember to think about the KPIs and metrics you’re going to monitor to ensure success, too. For instance, are you going to be tracking brand mentions, conversions, or engagement levels?

Step 2: Know Your Target Audience

Next, it’s time to think about your target audience. The more you know about your audience, their interests, and their expectations, the easier it will be to generate positive results. You’ll need to think first about the end-users you want to connect with. 

Gather insights from your other marketing strategies and campaigns to find out what kind of topics your customers are interested in, which pain points they have, and what goals they want to achieve. Use interviews and customer surveys, as well as brand monitoring tools, to collect insights into what customers currently think about your brand and what they like about you. 

It’s also worth considering the demographics of your target audience and their behaviors. For instance, where do they search for news? Which sources of information do they trust most? What channels are they most active on? This will help you choose the right method for promoting your PR efforts and help you find the right media outlets to work with. 

Step 3: Consider What Kind of Content Suits the Campaign

Once you’ve considered your goals and target audience, the next step is figuring out what type of content you’re going to produce. If your aim, for instance, is to raise brand awareness and generate excitement about a product launch, are you going to share a sneak peek video of your product with relevant news outlets?

Can you consider giving thought leaders and influencers early access to your new solution and asking them to review it? Do you want to publish a news story on relevant sites in your industry? 

On the other hand, if you’re trying to generate thought leadership and earn backlinks, you might consider creating studies, webinars, or whitepapers. You could produce your own infographics, listicles, and guides or even design gamified interactive experiences for users. 

The best content will always appeal to your audience and generate the opportunity for “viral sharing.” So, make sure you experiment with different tactics. 

Step 4: Use the Right Digital PR Tools 

Digital PR can be difficult to master, particularly if you don’t have the support of a dedicated PR expert. Fortunately, there are numerous tools that can help to optimize and improve your campaigns. Here are some of our favorite must-have PR tools:

  • Ahrefs: Ideal for tracking domain authority, pinpointing trending keywords, and monitoring growth, Ahrefs is an excellent tool for digital public relations. It can help keep you up-to-date on market trends and even how you’re performing compared to your competitors. 
  • Mentionlytics: Useful for keeping track of your business reputation and brand identity, Mentionlytics includes solutions for social media and review monitoring. This can help you to get a clear view of what people think and feel about your brand.
  • Google Alerts: As mentioned above, Google Alerts is ideal for keeping track of useful news stories and trends you might want to jump on to showcase thought leadership. It’s worth checking out tools like BuzzSumo and BuzzStream, as well as Google Trends.

The more tools you have to access data, press publications, and even find influencers in your space, the easier it will be to run your campaign. 

Step 5: Activate your PR Partners

Finally, once you’ve done your research, created your content, and collected as much valuable information as possible with the right tools, it’s time to boost the visibility of your content. Reach out to journalists, bloggers, and influencers who can help to promote your content. 

If you want to boost your chances of earning partnerships that generate leads for your business, make sure you’re clear about what other publications can get from you. Can you promise influencers access to free products or payment for their services?

Can you guarantee publications in your industry that the information you’re sharing will be valuable to their target audience? Take the time to carefully research each publication or thought leader you’re reaching out to, and tailor your pitch to them. 

3 Examples of Digital PR to Inspire Your Strategy

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We’ve already shared some great examples of digital public relations strategies used by businesses around the world today. However, if you’re looking for a little more inspiration, here are some of our other favorite examples worth mentioning. 

1. Coke (Create Real Magic)

Building on the growing popularity of generative AI tools in 2023, Coca-Cola launched a marketing campaign that encouraged users to use free tools to create Coca-Cola-inspired images. The solution combined GPT-4 with DALL-E to allow users to create fresh, creative content. 

Not only did the strategy lead to an influx of excellent user-generated content for the company, but it also improved the perception audiences had of the brand. It helped to establish Coca-Cola as a thought leader in the industry and showed it genuinely cared about getting consumer input. 

The fun and engaging campaign also attracted the attention of numerous press outlets from the tech industry, marketing landscape, and beyond, boosting the brand’s visibility. 

2. EA (The SIMS 4)

Another excellent example of a company adhering to the interests and values of its target audience, Electronic Arts, updated its popular “SIMS” game in 2023 to include customization options for trans and disabled individuals. 

The company announced the free update online and worked with a variety of publications, from PC Gamer to the Evening Standard, to promote it. The campaign showed the company’s commitment to fostering inclusivity for its customers and promoting diversity. 

It also inspired a lot of word-of-mouth promotion on social media. Countless fans took to Twitter (X) to congratulate EA for its positive decision. This led to even more press releases and news announcements, talking about how consumer trust in the brand had grown. 

3. Dove (#KidsOnlineSafety)

Dove is no stranger to excellent marketing strategies. The company has produced countless successful digital and traditional public relations campaigns over the years. In April 2023, they launched their Stand up for #KidsOnlineSafety campaign, partnering with relevant foundations. 

Dove joined forces with Parents Together Action and Common Sense Media, leveraging their promotional efforts to bring more attention to their campaign. They also created a branded hashtag for social media and encouraged influencers to get involved. 

The company’s broad approach to PR, from partnering with thought leaders to connecting with other brands, leads to a massive amount of visibility. At the same time, their focus on appealing to the values of their customers helped them to earn more respect from their community. 

Mastering Digital Public Relations

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Digital PR remains one of the most important tools in any company’s marketing strategy today. It’s more than just a way to protect and build your brand reputation. The right digital public relations strategy can significantly increase your visibility and improve your SEO results. 

Of course, crafting the perfect PR campaign, just like building the ultimate marketing strategy, can be complex. That’s why it’s so helpful to have support from the right experts. 

If you need help building your digital PR strategy, reach out to Growth Collective today to learn how we can partner you with the ultimate expert for your team. 

Rebekah Carter
Former company
About Author
Rebekah is a dedicated writer with years of experience producing exceptional content for brands around the globe. Her commitment to producing the best possible content means she’s constantly developing new skills and experience.
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