You might have heard of PR as a concept, but you might not be sure what it entails or how it can benefit your business. In this article, we’ve explored what PR actually is, how it works within marketing, and why PR is important. We also look at what makes a good PR campaign and how you can utilise PR for your small business.
What is PR?
Firstly, what does PR stand for? Public Relations (PR) is the way businesses, brands, and organisations present themselves and communicate to the public. Additionally, PR is all about how the media and your audience perceive your brand.
What is digital PR?
Digital PR professionals focus entirely on developing online performance, and progressing a business in the digital space, rather than print media, television, or radio. Part of content marketing, digital PR is a useful method of increasing awareness and positive sentiment around a brand. A business will execute digital PR campaigns with the intention of achieving online press coverage and receiving backlinks (a backlink is when one website links through to another).
How does PR work within content marketing?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a crucially important part of any marketing strategy, as this is how you organically drive traffic to your website. But where does digital PR come into the conversation?
As referenced in the above section, digital PR is part of the wider content marketing sphere, which means there is an intrinsic relationship with SEO. In fact, digital PR decisions are often made with SEO in mind; this is where earning backlinks comes in.
How do backlinks tie into SEO?
Simply put, if another source is linking through to yours, you are signifying to search engines, such as Google, that your website is reliable and credible, and one that offers value to potential customers. This, on paper, benefits your website from an SEO perspective.
However, not all backlinks are credited equally, and some are weighted more favourably than others. Websites that offer these valuable backlinks are referred to as being high authority, which means they have a history of sharing trustworthy, reputable, and helpful content. These are the backlinks you should be targeting when you initiate a PR campaign.
Additionally, not every backlink carries SEO value. Some backlinks are tagged by the publishing website as ‘nofollow’, which essentially means they’re telling search engines to ignore the link. Thus, these backlinks unfortunately don’t impact your site’s search ranking. Where possible, seek to ensure all stories relating to your PR campaign or media mentions are partnered with a ‘dofollow’ link, to benefit your SEO performance.
A secondary benefit of earning backlinks to your website, besides improving your brand’s search engine results page position, is the potential to broaden your reach to a wider group of customers. By having your PR campaign feature within a top tier publication, you are placing your brand in front of audiences who are likely to treat you with trust and credibility.
How digital PR can make use of social media
Social media is becoming an increasingly popular medium for brands to promote their product and engage with audiences. While digital PR professionals mostly target online news outlets and relevant online publications, a story shared across social media can generate just as many readers – if not more. While it’s important for SEO purposes to generate a strong backlink profile, don’t overlook the impact of social media as a means of selling your brand to the masses.
Why is PR important?
So, why is PR important? To offer some clarity, we’ve outlined the ways digital PR can enhance your brand and facilitate progression.
1. Use PR to increase brand awareness
PR is often considered a tool to increase awareness of a brand, product, or service. Through executing effective digital PR campaigns, you can generate interest-led stories around your brand, that pique the interest of media outlets and potential customers.
2. PR can be used to promote your brand’s values
As well as making consumers aware of your brand and what it is you offer, you should also be taking advantage of PR to communicate your values and what your company stands for. Consumers are more likely to engage with your business if they resonate with the messages you’re sending out.
3. Build consumer trust and enhance your reputation
Public relations, in essence, is all about managing a brand’s reputation and public perception: a business’ relationship with the public. So, don’t overlook the importance of stepping up your PR activity, to establish your brand as a trustworthy source of information within the community.
4. Good PR can help develop leads and sales
By building on and improving your brand’s reputation and credibility, as well as delivering a positive message about the values you promote, you will naturally attract more interest in your product or service. A strong PR campaign can generate press coverage that helps to put your brand on the map, and allows you to capture consumers and convert them into customers.
5. Develop digital authority
As well as developing credibility among your customer base, strong digital PR activity can give your business authority in the online space. A strong backlink profile can demonstrate to search engines that you’re an industry leader, which can push your website up the results page.
What is a PR campaign?
In straightforward terms, a PR campaign is a strategised series of steps orientated around generating awareness and positive discussion of a brand.
What makes a good PR campaign?
Digital PR campaigns with a strong message and captivating story can achieve national (and sometimes even international) coverage. However, this isn’t possible without a great deal of know-how. Follow our key steps to make your next PR campaign a success:
1. Give your content multiple angles
When creating campaign content, consider how you can change the angles a little to create multiple interesting stories or headlines. Giving depth to your content allows you to reposition your story in instances where your initial angle doesn’t prove to be as well-received as you’d hoped it would be.
2. Push out existing content
Importantly, you don’t need to come up with fresh PR campaign ideas for everything; that would be exhausting, and you’d quickly eat into your budget. Instead, think more cleverly, and consider whether you can push out any existing on-site content to journalists. You might have to tweak the angle slightly, but this can help you to generate backlinks to your website without stretching your resources too thin.
3. Set realistic objectives
When developing your PR campaign strategy, it’s important to set yourself realistic targets. You may have outlined your initial goals within your overall marketing strategy document, but each campaign should also have rational objectives that are both achievable and follow a reasonable timeline.
How to measure PR campaign success
We’ve discussed the importance of link building, and how it’s important for SEO, but what are some other ways you can measure the success of your PR campaign and activity?
- Conversions and sales
The primary objective for any business is to make money. So, if you register a rise in sales and profits after a PR campaign has gone live, you can consider it to have been a success.
- Website traffic
Another simple metric of success is website traffic, often tracked using Google Analytics. This measures the volume of consumers driven to your domain as a result of your PR activity.
- Social media shares
Social media shares are a reasonable metric of success, because they show how well your audience is engaging with your story or campaign. While social media success might not impact your SEO performance, it can drive traffic to your website and grow your consumer base.
What can small businesses gain from PR activity?
Whether you’ve only just created your business plan, and hoping to get a head start, or looking to expand your already-established brand, it’s important to understand the value of digital PR for small businesses.
What’s important to remember is that every business has an image and a public perception, no matter how big or small. However, developing a strong digital PR strategy allows you to improve awareness and positive sentiment around your brand. The key benefits of PR for small businesses are:
1. Digital PR allows you to accelerate your brand development, through building an authoritative domain that search engines and customers trust.
2. Earn exposure for your brand by creating captivating stories that people want to read about and share.
Digital PR: Top tips for gaining coverage
- Build relationships
By building working relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influential industry people, you can greatly improve your chances of achieving coverage of your campaign, rather than messaging out of the blue. And who knows, it might get to a point where your contact approaches you for a story.
- Think reactively
If there’s a relevant industry talking point that has captivated your target audience, try to make your brand a part of the conversation by thinking reactively about how you can add to the story.
- Make your story link-worthy
Rather than simply sending a press release with a statistic or loose piece of information, back it up. Create well-written content, on a dedicated page, that goes into more detail about the story. This way, a journalist has a relevant page to backlink to. The added bonus here is that you can also add in a call to action, to convert readers into customers.
- Determine the optimum outreach time
When it comes to outreaching (pitching and promoting your story or campaign), use trial and error to determine when the most successful time of day is – as well as which days works best. Once you’ve worked out the winning formula, stick with it.
- Offer an exclusive
Every journalist wants an exclusive, and to be the first to break an interesting story. If you have a particularly prominent contact, or one at a top tier publication, offer them first refusal on a story or 24 hours extra notice.
- Don’t be afraid to give journalists a little nudge
Journalists receive an untold amount of emails each day, many of them from PR professionals. If you’ve not had a response to your outreach email, consider sending a follow up; the chances are that they simply missed your story, rather than them ignoring you.
Knowing what makes a good PR campaign and how to measure PR success can help you to earn high-quality coverage, and put your brand in front of wider audiences. For even more helpful advice, discover all there is to know about marketing your brand or setting up a business, or if you still need to create a website, choose your domain name.