The device in front of your eyes, as you read this blog, is a part of the digital world. Gaining, sharing and honing knowledge and skills now has become easier, probably a click away.
What is the digital world? How has it impacted us? Are we headed for catastrophic showdown or is utopia around the corner? Now that’s a 100-page blog. In this blog I will take up a small subset of the subject and talk about how digitization has shaped the face of PR- a space that impacts me and my life.
Digital PR: The Basics
In simple terms, everything that spells out marketing on any online platform can be a part of Digital PR. Marketing can be in the form of backlinks*, online papers, articles, stories, blogs and in fact every vertical that presents a certain brand on any online platform.
Technically, Digital PR is any strategy implied to increase brand awareness, manage recent crisis or build and maintain customer loyalty.
The tactics involved in digital public relations are relatively similar to those of traditional. Building relationships and securing placements are at the forefront of this digital arm, however, digital PR has the added benefit of impacting SEO** and link building across the web. These measurable, digital tactics provide tangible results and insight.
A key differentiator of digital PR is the ability to build connections with bloggers and influencers, who are key players in the digital space. These digital influencers often have just as much authority, if not greater reach, than traditional figures, and come with an extremely loyal following.
While success in the traditional PR realm is difficult to quantify, success in digital PR is easily tracked. Depending on the platform, digital PR representatives can follow things like engagement, cost per click, cost per sale and almost any other kind of metric you can think of. The flipside of all of this is that you need to be a little more tech savvy than your average consumer, and for some, this can be difficult.
There is a reason why digital PR is building up so much momentum. Digital PR enables businesses and entrepreneurs to cost-effectively reach millions of potential customers. Why waste time and money reaching out to newspapers or going to trade shows when you can instantly reach millions of people with the click of a button?
Traditional PR was started by Edward Barnays and Ivy Lee 100 years back. PR was majorly all about press releases and events. In India, PR guys refer to mythological characters from history: Krishna and Chanakya who apparently pioneered PR. The Indian film industry and the political parties used PR aggressively to stand out from the crowd before the corporates took advantage of it and formalized the profession.
Eventually, PR branched out to digital platforms. This happened majorly in 21st century, with the vast usage of internet in every household.
Why Digital PR?
Digital PR is measurable, immediate and produces easily sharable content. The realm of digital PR may be more specified than that of traditional, but it will help grow your brand online and make waves in a constantly evolving digital world.
• High population using internet
Today the millennials are the target audience for most brands, and they are most active and engage with what’s happening around the world on social media platforms. Apart from that, almost every person, from youth to elderly, have access to smart phones or more broadly the internet. According to available research over 3.2 billion people use the internet and the numbers are growing by the hour. With smart phone usage becoming increasingly common and the internet rates plummeting in India, Indian brands are just about scratching the surface of the importance of Digital PR.
A generalized content across platforms and mediums will not work anymore. Digital has given the opportunity to all brands to customsize the content towards your target audience and track what and how they consume the same. The more unique stories you put out there that is specific to a target audience, the more likelihood of it reaching and making a stronger connect with your chosen audience.
• Consumer behavior/psychology
According to the behaviorism method, “people’s actions can be driven by an outside influence”. This is when people are prone to strong PR strategies digitally, or otherwise. For that matter, they tend to believe in the service or product being marketed. Since the number of people that use internet is on an ever high, it becomes easier for agencies to target specific population or the target audience in making them believe in their brand and therefore, profiting the respective brand. So as a PR professional, you can advise your client and pitch for stories on platforms that have a very specific target audience hence drastically increasing the likelihood of the brand being noticed.
• Creativity is the king
Digital platforms demand showcasing of unique creativity in order to leave an impact on the specific population of internet citizens they aim to target. Offline platforms have limited resources to grab people’s attention. This is a major plus point for Digital PR. One can play around with fun and attention-grabbing ideas at the same time, for people are more interested when there’s something new intrigues their attention. So the article your spokesperson has written has to be original and unique , with no plagiarized content, making it interesting enough for the reader to like , share and comment.
Plus, content can be customized to a large extent and you can gauge responses or ROI from the customer base making it easier for marketeers to understand and plan the money spends.
*Backlinks, also called “inbound links” or “incoming links,” are created when one website links to another. The link to an external website is called a backlink.
**SEO – Search engine optimization is strategies used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine. – Swati Jhawar, Nucleus PR