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Let’s get digital

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Most businesses understand the importance of fostering great relationships and protecting their reputation.  This is an important strategy that helps any organisation achieve its business goals.

Good public relations (PR) builds, maintains and protects your brand image through putting your business in front of your audience at the right place, at the right time, and with the right messaging.

The PR industry is undergoing some huge changes. The digital space is pushing professionals into a new space, forcing practitioners to think outside the traditional understanding of strategic communications. The channels we use are increasingly becoming digitised – resulting in the emergence of ‘digital PR’ a few short years ago.

In many ways, however, digital PR is simply an extension of traditional PR.  The concept of ‘digital PR’ may have you scratching your head, but in reality it is no longer a distinct discipline. 

It has merged with traditional communications practices such as media relations and stakeholder engagement.  It allows businesses the opportunity to connect with its audiences in the broadest sense, which will improve an organisation’s visibility and reputation.

Every organisation should have a communications strategy sitting alongside its business plan, and to ensure you will achieve maximum impact, be sure to include both online and offline tactics.

Here are some good reasons why your organisation needs a thoughtful and strategic digital presence:

People are searching – be found

Utilising digital channels gives your business a modern platform. You can position yourself as a thought leader in your field through sharing your valuable expertise in a range of digital ways.

And it all starts with the question, “What is your audience searching for?”  Do some research to find the answer.   Then, create web stories, blogs, videos, a podcast and other types of content that gives your audience what it is looking for and leads people straight to you.

Online – accessible and trustworthy

Being online on multiple channels, saying the same consistent messaging, allows the people searching for you to find you with ease.  And most importantly, when you are consistent and providing lots of useful, timely information they want, then they will trust you above your competition.

Showing up online in a consistent way allows your business to more intimately connect with your audience, encouraging trust, likeability and recommendations.

Community and connection

Building a thoughtful digital PR strategy that is true to your brand allows you to connect with a specific niche of people – your customers, your community, industry peers and even your staff.

We are increasingly ‘digital creatures’ and we are getting to know people and companies in a virtual way.  If you haven’t thought through how you can create multiple touchpoints for your audiences to get to know you, you are missing out on an important component of how you build brand loyalty and trust in our modern world.

Channels are as important as your words

Not only is what you say important, but the way you package your messages and where you put them has a huge impact on your digital image. This is because consumers are searching and researching online in a fast manner and attention spans are short.  Again, you want to meet them where they are and stop them in their tracks.

And what channels you use go back to how your target audiences search.  Are you selling to 20-somethings?  Then, they are probably searching questions on Tik Tok or YouTube, not Google.  Are you selling or working with business professionals over 40?  Then, Google and Facebook are likely the most important channels where you need to be found.

So, how can you shape up your digital PR skills to strengthen your reputation and relationships in 2023?

Ask yourself these critical questions and then formulate a plan: What do you want to be known for?  What is your audience searching for online?  Does what you look like on your digital channels match what you look like in-person? 

And finally, the best thing about growing your relationships and reputation online, is that you can track and measure every action you take to see if it’s creating impact.  Don’t forget to set some SMART objectives and measure, measure, measure along the way.

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About Author

Heather Claycomb

Heather Claycomb is director of HMC, a Hamilton-based, award-winning public relations agency.