Digital PR as we all know is a rapidly evolving discipline, taking elements of SEO and the core of traditional PR to create results for clients that have a measurable impact far beyond AVE and reach.
But, with this being such a new and evolving concept, no one can be leading the way as an authority and no one is setting a ‘gold standard’; we can talk about the quantity of links, and amounts of coverage, but there is so much more to digital PR than just links alone, we have to respect the roots of the discipline.
We could spend all day dissecting and analysing an email pitch and subject line (I saw a lot of this at Brighton SEO), but no one can confidently say just how much impact these specific elements have to the success of a campaign. I personally think that if your story and data is strong enough and you have a good topical hook, this is ultimately what will prevail.
But, it’s right there where I think the difference is, what sets a Digital PR person aside from a link builder. Digital PRs need to understand the news. It’s great being commercially aware of what newspapers are looking for but this needs to fit hand-in-hand with a legitimate news story that has some real human interest, a story that isn’t too closely connected to the brand that it appears too salesy, but something that is relevant, a few steps removed and has that logical connection.
We also need to consider whether it aligns with the brand? I’ve seen loads of campaigns that have done really well, generated links and gained the coverage, but don’t fit the brand at all and that’s where the connection to PR is lost. Digital PRs should still be thinking like PRs and assessing all the outcomes, mitigating against any backlash and anticipating perceptions from the readers and how the story could impact your brand. If not, you risk wasting both your own and your client’s time, and so considering the sentiment behind the story and the links you’re trying to gain is all the more important.
This is where collaborating across the field becomes key. None of us are at the forefront of this discipline, it’s evolving so rapidly and changing all the time, and as more SEOs and traditional PRs make the move into it – which they definitely will – so will different skills and perceptions. More knowledge and experience will be added, whether that be from ex-print and broadcast journalists, to very traditional PRs or SEO experts, and so educating and listening to each other becomes all the more important if this discipline is to grow and progress.
No one in the industry should be placed on a pedestal, because no one has the authority, we are all still learning, adapting and growing. It’s exciting and I’m sure this time next year, digital PR will be completely different to what it is now, and I wonder if we’ll all still be getting so hung up on the subject line of an email.