How Digital PR helps grow your online reputation

How Digital PR helps grow your online reputation
Charlene White, DigiPR

By Charlene White, DigiPR Founder, trainer and strategist

The value of Digital PR has long been recognised by SEO pro’s and Digital Marketers and they have been using it for years to grow online reputation and authority for their brands. 

Yet, the PR industry has been slow to understand the true value of our craft in the digital world and how it impacts a brand’s overall authority.

Digital PR helps us go wider with our work and reach audiences in ways we have ever done before. In addition, it also helps us plan better, deliver to audiences needs better and also measure and show the true value of our work. Here’s how…

Digital PR makes Public Relations even more effective

It’s an exciting time for PR pro’s. 

The digital age has meant Public Relations is no longer just about press releases and column inches. 

Digital PR now has the power to create wider influence online, relevancy and longevity for a brand by not only using our core skills, but data, PR-SEO and digital measurement as fundamental tools of the game.

Like it or not, search engine optimisation (SEO) and PR now go hand-in-hand and is a key component of Digital PR. Just like wine and cheese or peanut butter and jelly! Never have they been so reliant, or vital, to each other in building a brand’s online authority and reputation.

What’s more, Digital PR now helps us go wider to reach our target audiences in both ‘Browse’ (social, traditional media) and ‘Search’ mode (specific searches on products, services, people, brands or industries) by ensuring our brands can rank, and be found.

That’s because, regardless of what service or product a brand provides, most customers will Google or research it and its competitors online first even before they engage with it.

Almost 90% of people research online before they make any kind of  decision – on anything. 

What’s more, 80% of people only click on the first five organic search results on page 1. If your brand is not on p1 of ‘Search’ organically, you are missing out on valuable opportunities, leads, action by your audience or, ultimately,  impact on the bottom line.

Ensuring your brand is on the front page of Google for everything related to your business now needs to be fundamental to your work.

Digital PR directly impacts a brand's online reputation

What most PR pro’s also don’t realise is that our craft now has a direct impact on a brand’s overall online authority. It’s no coincidence that jobs, such as ‘Outreach Manager’ and ‘Chief Story Tellers’ have recently appeared in digital agencies and have the same core skills as PR pro’s.

Originally called ‘Link Builders’, they’re now seeding content into media and other high ranking online sites alongside PR pro’s as they know it adds significant value to a brand’s online authority and ranking ability. 


Because Google’s algorithms have continually been geared to reward brands that provide valuable content and endorsement from other higher-ranking sites through backlinks and shares. Mainstream media and other high traffic sites are all now fair game for Marketers and SEO pro’s. They’re pitching their stories and competing for the same column inches alongside PR pro’s!

Quality, authentic content that provides value and answers what people are searching for online, coupled with proactive outreach to gain quality backlinks and mentions are now a crucial part of a company’s online digital success – and is what defines Digital PR.

PR practitioners have been seeding content for decades. Yet many have not recognised the correlation, importance and positive impact our PR work, if done properly, can have on a brand’s online authority or SEO ranking ability.

The new era of Digital PR​

PR pro’s now have a huge opportunity to impact a brand’s online reputation more than ever. 

Digital PR helps you build online authority by creating the right content that your audience is actually is searching for and earning quality media placements with backlinks or on other higher ranking sites increases the likelihood that your brand’s domain will rank higher.  

The more backlinks, shares and mentions your brands gets, the higher the likelihood Google will recognise you as an expert in your field and elevate your brand/content on to P1 of search…which is utopia for organic leads and building online authority for a company.

Here's six key fundamentals of Digital PR

1. Data and research

Developing a robust Digital PR strategy involves researching your topics and understanding what your audience wants! When planning your PR campaigns, ensure you are providing valuable content that people are actually searching for. Otherwise it’s a complete waste of time. It will just get buried where no-one will find it! There’s a ton of digital tools you can use to test and see what people are searching for. Google gives a lot of insights for free. It sounds logical, but you would be surprised how many organisations spend a lot of time and money on content that misses the mark because they simply haven’t properly researched what people actually want. It’s what we call ‘random acts of content!’.


2. Testing topics online

Just because you want to rank for something…doesn’t mean you can. There’s a lot of factors that go in to getting your content seen by search engines, such as Google, as the best. It first involves understanding what you can realistically compete for online now based on how strong your current online authority is. There’s a range of tools to help you test that – MOZ is one of the best.


3. Old-school PR techniques vs Digital PR

Understand that press releases aren’t helpful to your rankings. They used to be — but are no longer. A press release is really only a message to media and will only help your ranking if it’s picked up by a media organisation who then publishes a story with a backlink to your site. It’s more worthwhile repurposing it for your audience to generate engagement. What I also find incredible is that people are still posting press releases on social instead of creating relevant conversations with their targeted audience. While press releases still have a place in the world, they are old-school and can be seen by some as talking at people and full of puffery which does little to earn trust these days.

Another key thing to note is a lot of time and resource is being put into content and campaigns that you ‘think’ people want – yet do they? Many times over no-one is actually checking and designing PR campaigns based on what your audience wants. Gaining the top spots online is only possible if you are delivering the right content that someone is actually looking for – not what you think they want. For instance, your client wants to issue a press release about a new product or an award it has just won. While it may be relevant when people research your brand, your audience won’t naturally find it via SEO. That’s because people generally Google for answers to questions or solutions to problems. For search, you need to think in those terms and gear your content to that. But there’s a real art and science involved in doing that.


4. Backlinks are rocket-fuel for your online reputation

Backlinks to your, or your client’s site, are everything! There’s no better feeling than scoring a positive thought-leadership piece or article in the media. But, that’s only half the job you need to do now. Without getting a backlink to the company’s own site included in the story, the value of the article for your brand overall is only short-lived. 

Earned media is temporary, PR-SEO is forever: While the benefit of a press mention boosts a brand, the spike in referral traffic may only be brief. But, when you’re able to get a journalist or blogger to link to a piece of content on your site, that link is likely to last and also build your online authority. It’s rare that sites delete pages and links. This is a key way to boost your online reputation and visibility.

To earn backlinks from media, make sure it leads to something relevant and interesting on your site – not just your Home page! Some journalists may take some time to convince to add in a backlink to a story – so make sure the link is worthwhile!


5. Digital PR requires you to write for humans and search engine spiders

The move to digital has meant the days of writing smart catchy headlines that don’t relate to the topic (we’ve all done it) and generalist pieces are becoming less relevant. Everything you create now has to be planned properly and written in a way that makes it easy for humans as well as search engine spiders to understand. Think of Google as a large online library. Its search engine spiders are constantly trawling the billions of web pages every day to get an understanding of what each organisation stands for and is an expert in. If your content is not geared properly with SEO (front and back-end) to give it vital clues, how can it rank you in the top spots? What’s more, if you are not in the top spots on page 1 of Search, how can people find you? This is only possible with smart Digital PR planning and processes. Writing good content that resonates with your human audience, as well as it being easily crawled by search engines is a must and takes time and new expertise to perfect.


6. Measuring your Digital PR efforts
The great thing about digital is that it has made it even easier to measure PR’s impact on a brand or client’s bottom line. There are now so many tools available – most of which are for free online to measure your impact. For instance, you can now show the success of your media outreach and the impact it has had on your audience and increased leads thanks to the likes of Google Analytics. Other metrics, like Domain Authority and organic page rankings are also great measures of the impact on your PR outreach is having. With so many new tools, data and measurement metrics available, we now have an opportunity to truly show PR’s worth and how it can impact a brand’s entire digital footprint and growth.

Want to learn more on the new skills you need for the Digital PR era?

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