Digital PR: what is it and why is it strategic for a digital marketing campaign?
How to improve a brand's reputation and increase brand awareness through the dissemination of positive messages.
Our aim of sharing the skills of the Mashfrog Group business lines continues through the webinars of the “Mashfrog Digital Youniversity”. Following the article on online advertising taken from Giacomo Iaderosa's speech, we now move on to Digital PR: what is it but, more importantly, what is it NOT? Why is it so important to build valuable online relationships? How can the brand reputation of a product or service be improved? Here is what Simona Viotto, the Corporate Content Manager of the Mashfrog Group, told us during the webinar she held on this topic.
What is Digital PR?
First of all, I should really make a clarification: the correct term should really be “Digital PRs”, in the plural. This is because it is a series of different strategies, but all with the same objective: to spread positive and accurate messages around the brand through the use of informative content. In this way, we try to increase brand awareness, therefore making the client's services or products more widely known, to consolidate their brand reputation, and to stimulate online conversations. In essence, Digital PR is a form of promotion for a product, service, or event linked to a brand. In fact, the ultimate goal is always to attract new clients, with the generation of leads as a secondary objective.
What is Digital PR NOT?
Digital PR is not synonymous with link building, although the two activities often overlap, or are combined. In reality, they have two quite different purposes. Link building is purely an SEO activity, in which what is important is not so much the content, but the presence of certain technical elements on the site that hosts it, which are not taken into consideration in a Digital PR campaign.
Digital PR cannot even be compared to advertising: it is not limited to a banner on the homepage but requires there to be informative content on the site. A banner, or some other method of promotion, can be additional elements to be agreed with the publisher, but they are not an end in themselves.
These differences show us, once again, how Digital PR is not a single thing but brings together a series of very different strategies.
• To stimulate brand feedback from authoritative sources, through the publication of an article or other type of content on a site or in a publication that has a certain authority in the target sector, to increase the authority and popularity of the brand.
• To create engagement around the content produced by the brand, and consequently the brand itself, while simultaneously consolidating the brand's online reputation. This is because establishing relationships, albeit virtual ones, with stakeholders or reference publications in the sector serves to increase involvement in the subject matter.
• To contribute to the brand’s story and the value of the service on offer.
There are secondary benefits related to Digital PR, which obviously have their value and pertain to areas adjacent to the main one.
• Content marketing, to be notified, in real time, of the latest trends and topics on which to base your own content.
• Social media, because building an extensive network of relationships promotes sharing and, therefore, visibility on the various social media platforms.
• SEO, to obtain backlinks from authoritative sites and ensure that the site ranks highly in search results.
The levers of communication
“Selling Digital PR means everything, and it means nothing”.
Digital PR is a very generic term and it makes no sense to propose it to the client as is. It is necessary to define what type of content you want to get across in the strategic phase, depending on the budget, the objectives to be achieved and the availability of the publishers (whether a distributor, publication, or influencer) with whom you choose to collaborate.
But what can we offer the client in the field of Digital PR? Simona showed us some examples that have been proposed or implemented for some of the Mashfrog group’s clients, including:
• Video content, i.e. video clips with informative content
• Regular columns, to be agreed with the publisher to ensure the periodic and regular
publication of content
• Social sharing on the official pages of sites and publications in the sector
• Dedicated DEMs to be sent to the publisher's database
• Publishing news on the home page and/or display domination.
The Digital PR workflow
Let's start by introducing a key figure, indispensable to large companies and small businesses alike: The Digital PR manager, a web communication professional who works on online platforms and uses the typical tools of the digital age. This "Specialist" is responsible for keeping the web reputation of the brand they work for high. They monitor the dialogue between web communities and establish and maintain relationships with influencers, monitoring the success of the online campaigns and the brand that they are managing using specialised tools. Simona also explained the various stages of a Digital PR campaign and the four fundamental steps:
1. Strategy: Identify the type of product you want to create, based on the client's budget and objectives.
2. Planning: In this phase, publications are scouted and texts drafted, which are always sent to the client for approval, given the fundamental importance of content to this activity.
3. Publication: Proofreading and checking for typos, publication in the sector and in the manner previously agreed upon, etc.
4. Reporting: In the last phase, a detailed report is sent to the client, highlighting the main insights from the campaign.
Simona Viotto, Corporate Content Manager, a graduate in Communication Sciences with a Masters in Web Marketing, Communication & New Media. She worked for over ten years in various communication agencies, where she acquired a range of skills in above-the-line and below-the-line web marketing and communication fields. She joined Mashfrog in May 2019, working with SEO content for some of the group’s most important clients.