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Digital PR and Super-Sleuthing

I’ve often thought about becoming a private investigator, think Sherlock, but a lot of the work appears to involve being outside, which is not a lot of fun in the UK winter. So, imagine my delight when digital public relations (PR) appeared on the scene, which is, in part, investigative work, but sitting in your office with a cup of coffee and a chocolate biscuit, bliss.
This article is about digital PR, the benefits of a digital PR strategy for a business, how super-sleuthing powers can uncover insider information, and how to measure a campaign’s success.
How is digital PR different from traditional PR?
Simply put, digital PR is a strategy that focuses on getting published online; think online magazines, podcasts, blogs, and social media. Traditional PR is a strategy focused on gaining brand coverage in print, including newspapers and industry-specific magazines, as well as on traditional broadcasting channels such as TV and radio.

‘Digital PR focuses on getting published online.’

What are the benefits?
Like traditional PR, digital PR contributes to brand awareness and trust-building. However, one of the biggest benefits is its ability to increase your online presence, most notably your search engine visibility and ranking. Why is this important? Well, the first thing many people do before they make any sort of purchase is their online research. When people type your brand name or a related search term into Google, you want to appear positively. Engaging content, knowledge-led thought leadership articles, and impartial reviews on trusted sites will boost your credibility and encourage your prospective customers to buy from you instead of your competitor.

‘Without knowing where you want to go, there’s no point in getting in the car.’

Before you start your super-sleuthing, you need to have some key things in place.

  • Your goals and objectives – without knowing where you want to go, there’s no point in getting in the car. Increase web traffic, move up Google’s ranking for keywords, all can be supported by digital PR.
  • A defined target audience – when you have the right audiences defined, it’ll be easier to find the digital PR hotspots that cater to similar audiences.
  • A key message – your key message is the essence of what a campaign is trying to communicate. If you understand the message well, it’ll be easy for your campaign to reflect it effortlessly.

With the above in place, now your digital investigative powers come into play. You need to find out the answer to the crucial question Where does my target audience hang out online? This is exactly where you want to digitally place your content.

Online magazines are a great place to kick-off. A lot of publications are happy to give out their demographics, such as their online readership numbers, you just need to ask nicely. You may even find this information already available via their website.

Getting an article name mention on a publication is considered a high-quality backlink, thus improving your SEO and boosting traffic. So how do you find out which sites are worthy of your attention? Below are some things you can investigate:

  • Estimated monthly visits – Find out a site’s estimated monthly visits to gauge its popularity – Surfer SEO is a free Chrome extension that also allows you to segment via country.
  • Social pages – review a publication’s social pages (like Twitter and LinkedIn), their followers, and how active they are.
  • Domain authority (DA) – You can check a publication’s DA, which is a score measuring how successful it is when it comes to search engine results. The higher rank of a site, the more ‘worthy’ a search engine will view its external links (backlinks). Go-to toolsets are Moz (paid-for software, but it has a free option for exactly this) and also SemRush (paid-for software).
Getting published
Now you have a good idea of where your business name should appear, you need to get published. Again, your digital investigative skills are required alongside some online relationship building – a key part, just like traditional PR. A network of journalists, bloggers, and influencers is essential to get your stories published.Most publications have a plan of content for the months ahead and are normally very happy to share their editorial calendar. This will give you an advantage and a timeline to work on when pitching for inclusion. Plus read your target publications, follow relevant journalists, what are they writing about and, this is the important piece, think about how to add value.Now you are armed with your list of publications, journalists, and synopses of great article ideas, you can start pitching and getting those articles published online!

Measuring your digital PR success
Is it all over when your article has been published? Absolutely not, now is the time to measure. With digital PR, the impact of an online campaign can be effectively tracked, monitored, and then measured, enabling clear reporting that can demonstrate the exact value a campaign has added. Here are six key metrics you can monitor to assess the success of your digital PR strategy.

  • Domain authority – by focusing your efforts on developing strong relationships with other sites that have a high DA, you can help turn your DA score around. If your DA is increasing, then it’s a sign that your digital PR efforts are succeeding.
  • Estimated page views – brand awareness is a great goal for digital PR and overall page views for your content are an essential metric. This figure may not tell you how many people you’ve converted into customers, but it can tell you whether or not you’re getting your name out there.
  • Branded traffic search – your DA is up and your page views are climbing, which is great news. However, some people may be landing on your pages after searching for generic industry terms and it’s important to find out how many people search specifically for your brand name. These are called branded searches and the gems of information can be found via the Google Search Console. An increase in branded searches strongly indicates that your digital PR efforts are building public awareness of your organisation and leading consumers to seek you out specifically.
  • Backlink authority – not all backlinks are created equal and you need to know if your digital PR relationships are leading to incoming links from undesirable sites, as your rank may suffer and Google will not favour you. Checking your backlinks is so important and you can see where they are coming from using sites like the aforementioned Moz and SemRush.
  • Mentions – with digital PR you haven’t got a win until your brand mention or linked content goes live. If a great article mentions your brand but doesn’t include a link to your website or content, it may not appear in the Google Analytics acquisitions tab, although still an extremely valuable mention for your brand and highlights a strong brand reputation. For this reason, monitoring your brand mentions using social listening tools is a crucial step. There are some great options out there, amongst them Brand 24 and Mention.
  • Social shares – how many times the piece of coverage has been shared across social media platforms is also a good measurement to monitor. Growth in engagements and shares is a reason to celebrate. Social platforms can lead valuable traffic back to your website or content hub, so your social media strategy and digital PR strategy must be aligned.

Whatever activities you focus on, above all your digital PR strategy should have clear and measurable goals and objectives, whether that’s an increase in web traffic or an increase in your domain authority. A lot of this can be completed with some investigative prowess, strong coffee, and a packet of chocolate Hobnobs.

If you want to find out more about how digital PR super-sleuthing can help support your business goals and objectives, get in touch with me at julie@walkeranddavies.com.

‘Digital PR strategy should have clear and measurable goals and objectives’

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