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Quick fire question: What is Digital PR?

Tuesday 23, Feb 2021

Written by Charlene White, DigiPR

I often get asked how I define Digital PR.

I have to be honest and say that, even after all of these years of working with it, I still find it hard to answer that question in just one simple sentence.


Because Digital PR involves building in a range of new components into your work to help us be better as practitioners, as well as grow a brand’s online visibility, reputation and trust for today’s audiences…and that takes a bit to explain!

You see, Digital PR is not just one thing. 

It effectively takes our work to the next level by using traditional PR practices as a base and then bringing in a range of new tools and techniques to help us go wider with our work.

It allows us to make more informed decisions about what our audiences want and where they are hanging out, at the same time as growing a brand’s overall online authority. 

This in itself is a bit of a mind-shift for traditional PR practitioners.

But, in my view, the most important outcome of all is that we get to see our work play out in real-time and we also have the ability to finally measure our success better than ever before. 

In effect, it benefits not only the brands we work for, but also us as PR practitioners as it finally provides us with a way of showing the true value of what we do…beyond column inches and sentiment, likes or other vanity metrics.

The four key components of Digital PR

If you boiled it all down, there are four key components that make Digital PR different from traditional PR.

This includes:

1. Data and new digital tools

The great thing about the digital age is that there are so many new tools and data sources (many of which are accessible for free) that have emerged that make us better as practitioners. 

They help us make more informed decisions about our audiences and, ultimately, our work. 

And it doesn’t have to be complicated either. 

There are a handful of tools you can keep in your pocket and use daily that provide you with assurance that you’re on the right track and having a positive impact on your organisation.

2. Adapting traditional PR practices to digital

What most PR practitioners don’t realise is that we hold the key to some of the most valuable levers in the online world. 

We just need to go a little further with our work to maximise the full value of what we do. 

Marketers and SEO pros realised the value of what we do a few years ago, particularly in regards to leveraging media and content, and how it can help grow a brand’s overall authority and visibility online if done in the right way. 

Our industry needs to catch up and understand that what we traditionally do, has more of an impact than just raising awareness in the moment if we just adapt it a little more to digital. 

3. Using an integrated mix of channels - including owned, earned, shared (organic and paid) and Search

Our audiences behaviours have changed dramatically in the last few years (especially since Covid)…so the way we develop strategies and communicate with them also need to change. 

No longer can we just rely on raising awareness in the moment via traditional means – i.e. media and a bit of organic social. 

The use of media and other channels is now fragmented and we need to understand how audiences now consume information on different channels in a certain way in order to make the right call on where our brands need to be found. 

This involves adapting our strategies and way of thinking to ensure we continue to get the right outcomes for our organisations. 

To do this, we now need to leverage an integrated mix of channels to ensure we build, what I call, a digital omnipresence across a range of touchpoints (not just media and social) in order to be found by our audiences when and where they are searching for them, in order to maximise our success.

4. Better measure metrics

Let’s face it…measuring our success in our industry has become quite confusing. While some are still stuck measuring column inches and sentiment, others have only evolved slightly to include vanity metrics - such as followers, likes or impressions. 

But what about measuring what your audiences actually did with your work when they saw it?

 What happened after all that amazing media and social work you did went out?

How did that benefit the overall brand you work for?

Most practitioners stop short of measuring that. But that’s where the most valuable insights are.

You can now clearly see and show, better than ever before, how you have been able to move the needle for your brand/client. 

You can also show how you have had a hand in driving the right audiences to their door which achieve the right outcomes – regardless of whether that be commercial, social or political.

There is a better way. One that capitalises on using a range of readily available tools that track what your audience actually did with your work when it went live.

Taking the first steps towards Digital PR

I often come across seasoned Comms practitioners that are curious about Digital PR and know they have to evolve in this space - but they’re not sure where to start.

They also don’t have the time to figure it all out on their own. 

When they do, many find it overwhelming and end up down a bit of a rabbit hole so give up and go back to traditional PR practices.

I get that… I was there once too.

But as an industry, we can’t afford to stay in traditional PR mode anymore. 

We need to evolve and grow our skills - otherwise we risk being left behind.

Becoming a Digital PR coach was never the plan for me. And I won’t lie, learning what it all involves has sometimes been really hard for me too.

But we need to understand where our work fits into the overall digital mix in order to be able to provide value to our brands/clients in the future.

I’ve actually become so passionate about the benefits of Digital PR and the role it plays in our work, that I’m now on a mission to upskill as many PR practitioners as I can.

And thanks to the support of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), we’re making it even easier for you to make the move to Digital PR.

To help those who run agencies get up to speed and also realise the potential of Digital PR for their business, we’re running a Digital PR bootcamp for agencies on the 9th/10th March.

We’re also running a Digital PR workshop for individual practitioners on the 17th/18th March.

So come join me… and let me show you all the amazing new tools and techniques you can build into your work to help you kick-start your Digital PR journey.

I look forward to seeing you there!

About the author:

Charlene White - Digital PR Strategist and Founder of DigiPR

Having worked in high profile Corporate Comms roles in New Zealand, the UK and the Middle East, Charlene saw the impact the Digital Age was having on the Communications industry a few years ago – but found a lack of clarity and resources available to help PR pros learn and adapt to the new digital world.

As a result, she spent several years studying Digital PR from some of the best in the business. She has since developed a comprehensive, yet easy-to-follow, Digital PR process which smashes traditional PR techniques together with new digital tools, data, SEO and measurement metrics to capture audiences in both digital ‘Browse’ and ‘Search’ mode.

Having seen the success her process was creating for her consulting clients, she launched DigiPR in 2019 to help PR pros lift their digital game.

Since then, she has coached hundreds of corporate teams, agencies and individuals all around the world on how to expand their digital skills and client offerings and to show the true value and impact of their work…beyond column inches and sentiment.

As well as being a trainer for PRIA, she is also a coach for the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a mentor for Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) Communications’ faculty.