Fresh eyes

A four step guide to successful PR in a digital age

a four step guide to successful pr in a digital age
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Written by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

Technology has been a game changer for PR in the last ten years but many businesses are confused with the new landscape.

Social media, agile website content management systems and phone / tablet technology have forever changed the method and speed in which businesses and people create, disseminate and receive content, information and news. And let’s not forget the growing power of Google.

But while the new tech-led 24/7 PR world presents wonderful new opportunities for businesses, we’re seeing many mistakes made.

Here are four things to think about if you want your PR to be a success.

1. Think about your audience first

Our advisers regularly get asked questions such as whether they should be using LinkedIn or Twitter, or whether printed media is relevant any more. The growth of social media is there for everyone to see and newspaper circulation figures are dwindling. However, researching your audience will give you the most relevant answer. If you are targeting 20 key decision makers in the marine industry, regional business press might not be at the top of your agenda. If you’re looking to target the over 55s your strategy should probably incorporate a traditional marketing element. Always look at things with an audience hat on – it will help shape your thinking and understand what channel you need.

2. Think about your story

Businesses have a raft of content channels available. Your own website should be viewed as the PR engine room, your own ‘BBC’. Think like a publisher – what will get people coming to your website? Good stories; relevant content, words, pictures and videos. Today’s marketing department should see PR as the tool to ‘tell their story’. But before you develop a raft of blogs and infographics, think about your story. What do you want to be famous for? What is your message? If you can answer this in three or four succinct bullet points, you’re off to a great start. It will avoid the temptation of creating a mass of content that actually doesn’t say anything. And don’t overcook your content frequency – less really is more.

3. Think integration

A digital native would advise you to use digital channels and a PR stalwart would push for third-party media. It should not be one or the other. Digital is engrained in all communication now and the boundaries between disciplines are blurred. The reality is that if you have a great story to tell, you have an opportunity to tell that story on your website, share it through social media, through third party media, direct to your database and in person.

By focussing investment in audience research and your story, chances are you will have a PR strategy that will integrate all channels. In this new PR world, every channel has a role to play in successful communications. But do your research first and keep it simple.

4. Think website and search

In addition to telling your story, managing reputation and developing relationships, your PR strategy can help drive traffic to your website and create enquiries. When devising a PR strategy ensure your website is the best it possibly can be. With more visitors potentially being driven to your website, it could prove a PR own goal if it’s not a modern, up to date representation of your brand. Likewise, there are several techniques you can apply to your website content to help improve your search rankings. These include gaining backlinks from influential websites, ensuring all your website content has the relevant tags (done through your website content management system) and including relevant popular search teams within the website copy (while making sure it still reads natural).

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