PR + Digital: A match made in communication heaven

by Marcellina Powell, Manager Marketing Communication

Published on
August 22, 2019

Public relations has been around long enough to be comfortable in its own skin. As a self-sufficient discipline, it could easily fall into the trap of becoming tired and stale.

But as it enters a new relationship with digital and data, PR is seeing a new lease on life and side-by-side, the pair are challenging the norms of marketing communication.

Here’s how:

A digital approach to strategy helps hit your target

Not only does digital help your PR efforts reach a broader audience with better ways to tell stories, but the power of data allows you to be more targeted. Where are your audiences hanging out? What online publications are they reading? What social channels are they on? What are their interests? And how do we, as communication professionals, create content that truly connects with them? Adopting a more digital approach can help uncover these answers, as well as other insights you would otherwise miss.

Optimise, optimise, optimise

Going digital can be scary, but it can also be eye-opening … literally. Now that PR has become more familiar with digital and its always-connected ways, we are getting smarter about how we share our content — factoring the SEO basics into every day.

Data can add sizzle to a good story

Using tools like sentiment analysis (a smart way to harvest data) can help PR professionals better understand the online conversation, going beyond the front-page factor to get a good look behind the headline. Data can sometimes become the headline too — for the right reasons. Journalists have always welcomed a solid statistic or trend to add relevance for their readers. In lieu of a hefty survey, mining your own data can uncover multiple story angles … just be sure to stay inside the data ethics lines.

How insightful

Gone are the days of relying on circulation and reach figures as our primary measure of success. Website analytics and data can help reveal which online publications and blogs are driving traffic to your website to help sharpen your PR efforts, and better demonstrate ROI to the people who hold the purse strings. What’s more, by using the power of data we can understand what is working and what is not, so you can redirect a PR campaign to achieve stronger outcomes.

The power of the influencer

Influencers have long been an important audience group in the PR world. Their opinions matter to those around them and now, through social media, their reach goes even further with some eclipsing the influence of traditional media outlets. And while the way influencers reach their followers has changed, the traditional approach still applies — find the right influencer for your brand and your story to ensure you are informing, educating or entertaining the right audience, with the right message.

Get clever with content
Do you have a killer content strategy? Why not pitch the content as exclusives to relevant journalists before you take it live? If it does not get picked up, it is still a win for blog and social channels. If it does get picked up, publishing the same content is a no-no, but you can craft a follow-on piece and link to the published story to further boost your SEO.

Get social

Engagement takes on a whole new meaning with PR and digital leading the way. Social media brings us closer to our audiences than ever before — it is the perfect channel for sharing a good story, creating engaging content, bringing a brand to life and responding in real-time. If you are a good social listener, you can also get great insights into the wants and needs of your community to understand the information, products or services they are seeking.

Like all good relationships, digital and PR like to keep each other on their toes, and as their partnership evolves, so do we as communication professionals. Enjoy the journey and if you have not already, learn to love digital and data for a more strategic approach to PR.