Published 2 Dec 2021

Guide to Set Up a Digital PR Strategy Team

Learn more about how Digital PR is the future of public relations and how you can leverage it to promote your brand by creating a Digital PR strategy team.

Guide to Set Up a Digital PR Strategy Team
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Public Relations has evolved over time. With news traveling at breakneck speeds, breaking news has given way to flash news, which can be found on social media platforms like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram to Twitter, Google, Flipboard, and of course, TikTok. With such an evolution, PR methodologies must keep up. And what better than going digital. 

About a decade ago, we saw traditional newspapers take the online route. People, on the other hand, were still accustomed to reading news in hard copies. Over time, and especially post-pandemic, online news consumption has increased by an unimaginable amount, something which a reactive PR strategy will not be able to match. 

This is the reason businesses everywhere are attempting to improve their online presence, because, why not! Their consumers are online, so are their clients and the news. A little shift in the PR strategy known as Digital PR has emerged and it is now the in-thing.

What is digital PR and why is it relevant?

Content, as we know it today, is the new natural resource in the digital environment. The higher the quality of the content, the more likely it will be consumed.

Take for instance restaurant company Chipotle Mexican Grill that rose to fame with the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge. The company leveraged its Instagram and TikTok handles to showcase one of its employee’s lid-flipping skills that went viral. Chipotle went on to launch further brand challenges on TikTok, becoming one of the most popular brands on the platform, resulting in record-breaking online sales. Chipotle would not have gotten such a high return on investment from a regular PR strategy.

Airbnb is a name that resonates with every traveler across the world and there’s a reason for that. The global travel start-up disrupted the entire hospitality industry with one simple strategy, collaborating with some of the most influential celebrities on Instagram with millions of followers. The travel behemoth gained popularity with the content the celebs like Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga and Martin Garrix and Wiz Khalifa posted of themselves at the Airbnb property, tagging the firm, and the company grew in popularity. These are results traditional public relations strategies would almost certainly never attain.

So, what exactly is Digital Public Relations? It is the amalgamation of traditional public relations with digital and social channels such as online news websites, renowned blog sites, social media outlets, influencers, and involves content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). Based on what was previously stated, digital PR assists brands in forming partnerships with digital sources, which results in them receiving headlines, improving their SEO ranks, and increasing their brand’s exposure to a bigger audience. In fact, according to Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller, Digital PR is probably as critical as technical SEO, probably more so in so many circumstances.

It’s not so much about how brands collaborate with media as it is about how they create content that is both noteworthy and fascinating enough to be consumed by a larger audience. As a result, Digital PR has become so important in today’s corporate environment that it can no longer be overlooked. It allows a brand to create conversations that resonate with their target audience who will voluntarily consume and share the content, enhancing the company’s thought leadership and credibility on the internet. With Digital PR, brands no longer need to crank out one press release after another or run behind journalists to get to the headlines. This way, the journalists (and target audience) proactively try to connect with the brand. Digital PR is the future of public relations.

How to create a digital PR strategy

Before going there, brands must figure out who their target audience is and where they are. It is about being visible, because as a thumb-rule – ‘out of sight, out of mind’ applies here too. With dwindling attention spans, it’s more important than ever for firms to get their Digital PR strategy right, whether it’s through press releases or blogger and influencer collaborations, earning press and online hits through fostering media relations, or even getting favorable reviews online.

  • Goal setting is key, be it driving traffic for the brand or increasing brand authority for specific industry trends. If a company wants to get on a Digital PR bandwagon, it must first establish an objective that is core to a fool-proof strategy. 
  • Know your customers, and it cannot be stressed enough. As mentioned earlier, know not only where your clients are geographically, but also the websites they frequent, the videos they watch, the podcasts they listen to, and the social media handles they follow. Try to gauge their pain points, likes and dislikes, and then tailor the content around it to make it relevant.  
  • Map the target media and competition online as it will lead to news that has appeared before, what works and what doesn’t and which channels to leverage. Good media mapping will ensure reaching out to only such publications or an influencer for that matter, that attract the right target audience which might be potential customers of a business.
  • Content (and SEO) research is of utmost importance in Digital PR Marketing. No idea is the best idea. It is important to widen the horizons, get into huddles, collaborate with various team members, and discuss the ideas for content. Once there is clarity on which idea has the greatest pull factor, it is important to check online if the same or similar content is there online. SEO plays a key role here.
  • Content creation and editing form the next steps. Whatever the ideas are, it is important to prepare an outline and go for the kill. Now is the time to flesh out all the details to create quality content. The idea is to get the message clear to an extent that creates a wow factor in the minds of both the publications as well as the readers. 
  • Outreach is fundamental, as it will decide whether the PR content is a worthy reflection of the brand. In today’s digital environment, not every piece of material receives the same level of acclaim, hence it’s critical to have a repertoire of pitches and content to strike the perfect chord. 

Companies looking for a perfect Digital PR strategy should also build and foster relationships with the journalists and influencer community. Besides publishing syndicated news releases, it is also important to get quality backlinks and worthy mentions.

Tools that are critical to digital PR manager

If a company is looking at Digital PR, it must invest in key technologies that will help increase the outcomes and demonstrate the worth of the effort put into each campaign. While tools like Cision helps in identifying the relevant media across markets, HARO allows for reaching out to the best journalist relevant for the brand. Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush come in handy to analyze keywords, backlinks and relevant content, and Meltwater helps in analyzing the outcome of the campaign. Digital PR specialists treat these tools as holy grails.

Benefits of digital PR

One of the most efficient and successful ways to get coverage in top news sites and niche media at scale is through Digital PR.  But there is more to it than just coverage and backlinks. 

  • Brand Awareness and credibility are what every company is in pursuit of. Digital PR allows a brand to reach out and be covered by top-tier media. People do not relate to brands they never heard of and it is highly unlikely that they would invest in them. The image below showcases the credibility a company enjoys among the world’s leading publications.
  • Thought Leadership is a critical aspect of a brand’s industry presence. Digital PR provides that opportunity to go out to the media and other social channels with content which when published are perceived to be coming straight from industry experts.
  • Search Rankings and visibility are two of the most important outcomes of a great Digital PR strategy. Here a brand not only obtains high-quality links but also receives higher organic traffic on its website.

How to set up an agile digital PR strategy team

Now that the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of Digital PR are established, the buck stops at ‘how’. Most businesses consider employing a Digital PR Agency but are unsure if the investment would be worthwhile. Many companies want to employ a single in-house Digital PR specialist, but given the scope of the job, finding a full-stack marketer — someone with creative, technical, and marketing abilities – is difficult and time-consuming. And it gets even more difficult for niche brands to get Digital PR Firms that have the expertise relevant to their business. 

This leaves them with an option of having an in-house team that has diverse expertise, vast experience and niche skills, which when combined forms a power-packed formula for Digital PR success. To ensure such a team set-up, it is important to

  • Set up the objectives, or goals as mentioned earlier and understand to what extent is the requirement justified. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound or SMART goals will help ascertain the kind of talent that the company would need to fulfil their requirements.
  • Create a budget, taking into account the percentage of the marketing budget that will be allocated to Digital PR and the hiring of in-house staff. This will give more clarity on the goals, the talent that needs to be acquired and the corresponding budget. More often than not, bringing in talent in-house requires a large capital investment which increases operating overheads.
  • Identify the right people for the job by doing thorough research on LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and other hiring platforms to look for the right candidates for various skills. A typical Digital PR team consists of 
    • Media Manager or a communication specialist who develops Digital PR strategies and disseminates all targeted content across media platforms and have great media relations
    • Content Manager who is in charge of the creation, development and distribution of targeted messaging to delight audiences
    • Social Media Marketer to engage with the existing customers, foster relationships with new ones and stay on top of things pertaining to the brand perception
    • Graphic Designer to create compelling visuals that inform and captivate consumers
    • SEO Expert to optimize the website for higher search engine rankings, get more traffic from search engines and gauge market trends

The idea is to bring together a multi-member team of skilled people who can work together at speed and at scale. Not everyone is up to speed in the same time frame and getting everyone on the same page may turn into a daunting task. This is the reason, getting an agile team is critical to achieving Digital PR success.

However, if you are not sure that you would be needing a full-fledged team, or are pressed on budgets, a leaner set-up can work well for you. Leaner on-demand teams can help you meet changing customer demands and accelerate your business growth. 

Depending on the workload that you have, one or two talents can help you achieve a lot for you to scale efficiently. For instance, a media manager would also know content creation. A social media marketer can also help you with copywriting and SEO. And a content marketer can also know a bit of graphic designing and SEO. 

Let’s say you need a Digital PR person who can help elevate your brand authority by engaging with your target audiences. In that case, a team consisting of media manager and social media marketer can suffice. 

If you want a thought leadership positioning and get ahead of competitors in media perception, a media manager and content marketer can be useful. Add in a graphic designer and you are sorted.

How to adopt agile practices in digital PR

Agile is not ‘playing it by ear’ but breaking down the larger goals into smaller bite-sized pieces, taking strong ownership of one’s task at hand and running them for smaller victory laps rather than marathons. 

  • Activate sprint mode to bring together cross-functional teams that organize work according to the project and run with it in shorter sprints. Each member of the team knows what to do and in what time frame.
  • Organize daily stand-ups to the calendar to assess progress and remove roadblocks. If something is not working out, it is always better to act on it and change the course before it is too late. 
  • Allocate intelligible roles to each team member and encourage steady communication between each other so that no one works in a silo.
  • Focus on the customer, always. Identifying the target customers, their preferences and pain points will always keep the team focused on one goal and that is customer delight.

Digital PR is all about finding fresh views on everyday themes that are relevant for a brand and its target audience and something that a media publication would not have the time to look into. A team that is dedicated to achieving these goals for a brand, would see success.

Businesses worldwide trust Hire Digital to power their digital PR efforts. We make it easier for you by helping you engage with the right talent from a pool of pre-vetted specialists who can get started in just 48 hours. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

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