Alyna Malyniak
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Another Adelaidean chasing her dreams in big-city Melbourne.
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How to Introduce PR Tactics to Your Digital Marketing Campaigns

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Digital PR and digital marketing are one and the same, right?

Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s true, but while the two fields share many similarities they’re actually quite different. For those working outside the marketing world, essentially public relations is based much more on research and strategy, while digital marketing tends to focus on keyword goals and granular audiences, through content marketing, SEO and PPC tactics.

Differences aside, each industry has at least one major factor in common – the use of top-funnel, long term marketing strategies. Simply put, both PR and digital marketing have one common goal – to create positive brand awareness and associations, either online or in the real world.

So, in a growing digital landscape, and an ever-changing marketing industry, do we take the plunge and adopt PR tactics to our digital marketing campaigns?

You might be wondering why the two fields can’t stay separate – surely each has its own place and purpose within the business world. Why should digital marketers adopt PR tactics to their campaigns and vice versa? If the current model isn’t broken, why fix it?

While each industry believes theirs has a stronger impact, it’s beneficial to acknowledge that we can learn a lot from each other. So, as digital marketers, what can we learn? How can we introduce PR tactics to digital marketing campaigns?

Stakeholder Mapping and Market Research

In digital marketing, your target audience is your consumer group. Your consumer group, or your target market, is made up of countless prospective customers, current customers and your wider targeted audience. The main priority of digital marketing is to ensure your brand stays relevant and ‘better’ than your competitors. Meanwhile, in PR, your target audience is made up of stakeholders. Stakeholders are people, groups or organisations that are interested in your business or brand. Not all stakeholders are considered equal, but it’s still PR’s job to engage and communicate with them at every level – from community groups to employees, directors to suppliers and unions to shareholders.

In PR, each piece of content fits into a very specific strategy, because everything you publish represents the brand, the brand’s stakeholders and their image as a whole.

Simple ways to introduce this to your campaign

  • Research your audience and map out your stakeholders from low to high interest and power.
  • Choose which stakeholders you’d like to focus your strategy on.
  • Ask yourself, “what are the values and beliefs of my audience?”, “does my brand have any ethical goals?” and “what is the public opinion of my brand and business?”.
  • Research the most effective way to engage and communicate with your target audience. Remember, in PR, two-way communication with your stakeholders is the new black – one-way communication is now a thing of the baby boomer past.

Crisis Management

Most people know PR professionals as ‘spin doctors’ or experts in damage control. Within the digital world, crises appear to happen at an unbelievable rate; from a sudden influx of bad reviews, to a poorly worded post or bad press, the possibilities are endless.

As we are all aware, we cannot control what is written about a brand online – we can only choose how to react to the comments. It’s not clever to assume this will never happen to your business – no business is perfect – and most businesses will need to manage negative reviews at some point. As a digital marketer, a crisis management plan should be put in place, covering even the smallest issues to the biggest blow ups. Don’t just react, but be pro-active and have a standard crisis management plan in place.

Simple ways to introduce this to your campaign

  • Depending on the social channels or advertising streams you are using, research how issues can arise. For example a bad review or a post taken out of context.
  • Ask yourself, “what could happen?”, “why is it a problem?” and “who is it a problem for?”
  • Draft responses for each problem and the outcome – showing that you’re positively responding and acknowledging your audience can only reflect well on your brand.
  • Produce positive content for your brand, to help outweigh the negative. This can be done proactively through blogs, influencers, news and social channels.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Some brands believe that embedding CSR in their strategy is a non-negotiable, while others just don’t get why it’s so important. An old friend of the PR world, CSR isn’t really touched on in digital marketing; however, with millennials as the core consumer group in 2018, and the rise of Gen Z upon us, there is a need for brands to think beyond price and quality. Stakeholders now expect the brands they choose to align themselves with to do more – and that’s where CSR comes in.

Audiences are becoming even more critical of brands, so CSR has to be done in the right way. They don’t want tokenism – a brand giving back just because they feel they have to – they want authenticity.

Simple ways to introduce this to your campaign:

  • Using market research, listen to your audience and find the right cause and the right community to align your brand with.
  • Can your brand play a positive role in this cause? Even if it’s small, it’s a good start.
  • Define your community. Understand that your brand can’t please everyone and might leave others feeling left out, but this is where crisis management comes in!
  • Discuss your CSR efforts on social, blogs, websites and whitepapers and make sure you’re transparent, engaging in real conversations and avoid buzzwords and corporate jargon.

Finally….

This might seem like a lot to take in all at once but learning from other industries are a great way to ensure you’re keeping up with a changing and challenging landscape. Since the rise of Web 2.0 and social media, there has been a cry for traditional PR and digital marketing to remain separate. Each field had its own place and purpose but perhaps learning from and combining our strengths will ensure we’re not left behind.

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By Alyna Malyniak


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