October 31, 2019

How Companies Use Digital PR to Build Online Visibility

Digital PR is a promotional strategy where companies work to gain earned media from external parties including publications, influencers and industry thought leaders.

“[Digital PR] helps build trust and awareness of who you are,” New Breed’s Head of Demand Generation Guido Bartolacci says. “Having other people talk about who you are is 99% of the time going to be better than you talking about who you are and what you do.”

While doing digital PR, your company should primarily target platforms that have a large reach and a wide audience in the industries you serve. 

“Whether you’re a big company with a large database yourself or a small company just starting out, it’s great to get your message in front of a new audience, which is a lot of what digital PR will accomplish for you,” Guido says.  

Publications, news outlets and influencers tend to have high domain authority, so in addition to driving web traffic, being mentioned on their site can also strengthen your domain authority. 

How Does Digital PR Differ From Traditional PR?

“Part of what distinguishes [digital PR] from traditional PR is just where it’s occurring and how it’s getting out there,” Guido says. 

Traditional PR focused on print publications, TV and radio. Digital PR has followed where those industries moved: online.

“Digital PR is just how traditional PR has evolved,” Guido says.

With that evolution, the ways in which companies can garner earned media has expanded. There used to be very little you could do that didn’t involve paying for attention: you could hire a publicist to do outreach, pay to distribute a press release, send out free product samples in hopes of getting coverage, incentivize influencers to promote your brand, etc.

Now, as you’re growing your brand and online presence, you can compensate for mentions in ways that don’t involve money.

“You can give things back in return, like links. You can promote their company and what they do,” Guido says. “The avenues through which you can add value for someone are more accessible and broader than they were in the past.”

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5 Digital PR Tactics You Can Use Today

1. Interact with influencers

“If we’re talking about influencers, most of their influencing occurs through social media,” Guido says. “It’s backed by what they write about, what they’ve done, at their company and on their website, but the actual influencing occurs mostly on social media.”

To form relationships with influencers, the first step is to interact with them on social. By engaging with their content, you’ll get your name in front of them and boost the value of their influence. They’ll see notifications from your interactions, and by commenting on their content, you’re promoting it to your audience and helping expand the influencer’s reach.

Then, you can directly contact them on the channel you’ve built up a relationship on or move the conversation to an email or phone call.

“Once you have that relationship established, it’s basically about content sharing,” Guido says. 

You can conduct link building or ask them to promote a piece of your content. 

For example, you could mention and link to an influencer in one of your blog posts. Then, you can reach out to them with a link to your post, talk about how you admire their work and conclude with a line about how you’d be honored if they link to your post in their content or promote that post on social.

2. Engage with other people and companies on social media

“You’ll probably get a little more traction and reach with influencers than you will with other people, but they can be harder to get because there are so many people going after them,” Guido says.

If you’re afraid of getting lost amongst the flood of requests influencers receive, you can also interact with other peers in your industry who are more likely to have the bandwidth to respond. 

By engaging with other industry-relevant accounts on social media, you get your name in front of a wider audience and encourage people to interact with you in return.

3. Have a public face for your company

“It’s becoming more and more of a necessity to have someone at your company that is building their own authority and, not necessarily becoming an influencer, but at least having a public face that people can interact with,” Guido says.

Personal interactions on social media are becoming vital in many industries. Even in B2B, people buy from other people. They’re more likely to start a conversation with a person than a company or a brand account.

4. Contribute content to other outlets

The goal of Digital PR is to build your authority outside of your owned domain. 

Guest posting is a little different because it’s not someone else talking about you. It’s you talking about yourself somewhere else,” Guido says. “But it does get you exposure to a new audience so if that’s one of the main goals of PR, then [guest posting] is accomplishing that.”

Plus by publishing your content, the external source is implicitly approving the things you say and reinforcing your credibility. They’re still informing their audience that your content is valuable.

5. Distribute press releases

Press releases are typically used when your company has something newsworthy to talk about like an award, new partnership, product release or new hire. 

They include a summary of what happened along with some quotes that can be used by journalists who want to write about the event. 

Press releases can be distributed by a publicist or newswire service, but you can also distribute them yourself to relevant outlets. If the subject of your release has a local impact or a niche audience, it’s worth reaching out to local or industry-specific publications personally so you can tailor your release to that specific audience.

These five tactics can all be done naturally or through paid means. You can pay influencers to talk about you, sponsor social content, hire spokespeople, buy advertorials and pay to send out press releases. But you can also invest time in implementing the same tactics with similar results.

The Takeaway

Newer online tactics are just extensions of traditional PR, but the older tactics still exist too. 

Relationship building is still key for getting your message and positive reputation in front of a wide audience, and social media friendships only go so far if you can’t extend them into the real world.

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Quinn Kanner

Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content.


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