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  • Anthony O'Brien Bedford

Digital PR - What's it all about?

Digital PR has become a buzz term over the past twelve months within the industry. Overseas we have seen markets adapt faster, with purely digital PR agencies popping up over the past few years... but what is digital PR and how does it differ from traditional PR?

Essentially digital PR is online PR, whereas traditional PR focuses on more traditional mediums e.g. print, broadcast etc. Digital is also more analytically driven with results being more tangible than traditional. However, does the term even warrant its own subcategory? I'm on the fence. While we're seeing it get a new name, digital PR is simply still PR and most savvy comms professionals have already been practicing it for several years now.

The real difference and piece we should note in the industry comes down to reporting. When done correctly digital PR allows for more insight into consumer engagement via online media. This is something that in general the industry has always fallen short on, measuring results. However, once again we must not get carried away with the trendy buzzwords of the moment and completely hang our hats on these metrics. Why? Because PR is about reputation building, it's a long game and doesn't always have instantaneous results. A consumer may see a piece of content, but not act on it for several weeks afterwards, in that instance have we as professionals simply not included that consumer as a result? Well no, not if we're sharing real time metrics, we will have lost that result and therefore devalued our contribution to the client.

We need to focus on the full picture when it comes to PR, and not put all of our eggs into the digital basket. Brand building takes time, reputations need to be nurtured via numerous channels and tactics, and not with digital only strategies.

In a recent article from Entrepreneur Europe, titled "How to utilise public relations without sacrificing your own narrative" the author poignantly writes "more and more, PR seems to be merging with content marketing. It’s a natural union but increases the anxiety of maintaining a narrative — your narrative. The story and brand identity that you and your team have worked so hard to cultivate."

We live in a time where instant gratification is the order of the day, everything is at our fingertips so why can't the results of PR activity be instant too? It simply shouldn't be viewed this way, it's too narrow and leaves a lot to be desired with regards to long term consumer awareness. We need focus on the big picture of how to deliver the best in class work for clients across traditional AND digital PR, with a more enhanced view of metrics and results in real time while remembering that not all results are instantly visible. So what is digital PR? It is PR in a shiny new outfit, with a better understanding of SEO, trackability and metrics...but it's still PR and the basis of this is storytelling, brand building and consumer awareness. Let's not forget the foundation of PR by trying to evolve it into something that strips away the art of storytelling.


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