Public relations is a tried and true way to grow brand awareness and expand your business’s reach. Encompassing a company’s communication with partners, journalists, philanthropists, and anyone really.
Digital PR might seem like an add-on—something businesses should tackle when they have extra money or time—but in actuality, it should be a non-negotiable. You need it whether you’re a small business with two employees or an enterprise with employees all over the globe.
Because it’s a key part of building trust in your brand.
What is public relations?
Public relations (PR) is the practice of utilizing media to promote and nurture a positive public perception.
How does public relations differ from branding?
While both PR and branding help grow awareness, public relations is more communication-based.
Examples of PR include:
- A guest post on a popular blogger’s site
- A quote from your leadership or staff member in a piece of news coverage
- A guest article in an industry publication
- A feature on your brand in a magazine or newspaper
- Inclusion in a blog post on another site
Branding, on the other hand, is how a brand presents itself to the world.
Examples of elements of branding include:
- UX design
- Customer experience
- Voice and tone—how a brand communicates via blogs, social media, video, and other forms of marketing
- Color scheme
- Social media profiles and posts
The Three Types of PR: Owned, Paid, and Earned Media
There are three main types of public relations: owned, paid, and earned media.
While each category employs different tactics, they all are after the same end goal: forming a positive public image and becoming top of mind with consumers.
Owned media is any type of content a company creates and manages. Social media posts, blog posts, and email newsletters are all examples of owned media.
You can think of owned media as the fountainhead for all your digital PR efforts. It also includes your website, which you can optimize using SEO strategies to increase organic traffic.
Paid media involves external and paid promotions. This could include influencer marketing, pay-per-click (PPC), or social media advertising.
Earned media involves any promotional content your company didn’t create or pay for.
Mentions in publications, positive customer testimonials, interviews with your leadership, and features are all forms of earned media.
Developing a PR plan
Launching a successful PR campaign requires careful planning. Coverage and publicity aren’t handed to businesses—they have to be worked for.
Here’s how to get started on formulating your public relations plan.
- Analyze the last 6 to 12 months in terms of PR
Take a look at the recent PR surrounding your business and competitors.
What kind of coverage did your company receive, if any? What about your competitors?
Did the media attention have a positive impact on business or a negative one?
Are there current events or global developments that are relevant to your industry, and that might have an effect on customer sentiment toward your industry and/or brand?
Additionally, you should research the specific journalists who covered you or your competitors, while also taking search rankings into account.
- Define your PR goals
After analyzing your past PR activity and that of your competitors, you should formulate your PR goals.
Consider using the SMART method when making PR goals. Your objectives should be:
- Strategize how to reach your target audience
Consider your ideal customers and target audience when planning your PR strategy. Who do you want to reach?
This is where your buyer personas come in. Using your personas, you can identify the different types of people you want to reach, as well as the channels they’re most likely to use to consumer information.
An executive, for example, will be more likely to read industry publications and major news outlet publications, as opposed to cruising Reddit or Twitter for information.
A tech blogger, on the other hand, will probably spend lots of time on social media sites, as well as review sites and digital-only tech publications.
By figuring out who you’re targeting and where they’re getting their information, you can start devising a list of which publications, journalists, bloggers, influencers, and other media personalities you want to contact.
- Consider your macro and microenvironments
When planning your public relations campaign, it’s important to analyze the surrounding conditions. These can be described as the macro and microenvironments.
Business Dictionary defines the macroenvironment as the “major external and uncontrollable factors that influence an organization’s decision making, and affect its performance and strategies.”
Factors can include “economic factors; demographics; legal, political, and social conditions; technological changes; and natural forces.”
It’s important to analyze your company’s macroenvironment because it affects the ways in which people view your brand. What’s happening in the world, or country, or industry, that will have an effect on the way people perceive you?
A microenvironment encompasses “factors or elements in an organization’s immediate area of operations that affect its performance and decision-making freedom.”
Such factors can include “competitors, customers, distribution channels, suppliers, and the general public.”
Your microenvironment, moreover, has a direct impact on your company.
PR is intertwined with your environment. Understanding your backdrop is pivotal to create a campaign that lands well with your audience.
- Create key messaging
After considering your environment, identifying your target audience, and formulating your PR goals, you are now ready to clarify your messaging.
Your message is the core of your PR campaign. To get started on crafting your message, ask yourself:
What, specifically, do I want people to know about my organization?
What is my organization’s mission statement?
How can I better meet customer needs than my competitors?
After answering these questions, you can start crafting specific messages for specific outlets.
PR Process and Execution
You’ve identified your target audience and have messaging that will resonate. You’re ready to officially begin the process and execution phase, starting with the press release.
Your Press Release
44% of journalists view press releases as “the most trustworthy source of brand-related information.” But, like with all PR efforts, you can’t just hit “publish” and expect publicity to follow.
Find the right journalists and bloggers for your company, ideally with experience writing for your industry. Send them (individually—no group emails!) a solid and concise pitch, packing the most punch in your first 10 words.
In addition to contacting journalists, you should reach out to TV stations, radio stations, and other media outlets you deem relevant.
Remember, distribution takes time, so follow up judiciously and prepare for potential postponements. Having a flexible attitude and a patient approach at this juncture is a key factor for efficient and effective leadership.
Maintain momentum with link building
After your company’s story starts gaining media attention, leverage the traction you’re receiving. This will go a long way in terms of Google ranking and domain authority.
You can set up a Google alert to help you keep track of your media mentions. When you’re alerted of mention, you can contact the journalist directly and see if they can add an appropriate link to their article. For instance, you could say:
“Hello, [Journalist’s Name]
I just read your article, [Article Title] and found it highly engaging! Thank you for sharing it.
You mention [Campaign / Company Name], and I was wondering if you could add a link to ___ so your readers can further explore ____.
Thank you for your time, and let me know if you have any questions!
[Your name, job position]
It’s worth nothing that so much of PR success relies on this building block approach. Crafting a plan that utilizes previous exposure is key, in addition to keeping track of where and when your mentions appear—which brings us to social media.
Leverage social media
In addition to keeping an eye your media mentions you should also be keeping tabs on your social media engagement.
Social media has bridged the gap that once existed between the public and an organization. Companies must realize their public perception is highly influenced both by how they come across on social media and what users are saying about them on the platforms.
Your social media channels can help you promote positivity and manage negativity.
Practice social listening to figure out what users like and dislike about your PR campaign or brand at large.
Ultimately, it is virtually impossible to compete in any way in today’s market without savvy, effective and forward momentum on all social media platforms.
Post on your company blog
As your PR campaign progresses, chances are you’ll see an uptick in website visits. Take advantage of your web traffic by updating your company blog.
Think about what content you can post that would enhance your PR campaign and user experience. Are you getting more questions about your company’s values after a feature on your CEO? Write a blog post outlining your values and building on that coverage.
Maybe you’re seeing more traffic to a specific product that was mentioned in recent coverage, but you’re not seeing a proportional number of purchases. In that case, perhaps you need to add some customer testimonials, or a video demonstration of the product.
When carried out effectively, a PR campaign can help solidify a positive public perception of your brand. Using these straightforward steps will help you build a marketing structure that is strong and timely.
Want to raise awareness about your company with a digital PR campaign? Contact us today to get started.