Create your digital toolbox

Digital PR

Whether you like it, loathe it or just don’t understand it, ‘new media’ PR is here to stay, and in its many guises it will become an ever important strand of communicating with a mass market.

Facebook, Twitter, Have Your Say, blogs, forums, chat rooms, e-marketing, Wikipedia… these and many more come under the wing of digital PR and, if you look at the growth rate of any one of these channels, you will begin to appreciate the power each holds.

Combined creatively, the digital routes to market offer an immensely powerful means of speaking to your audience. Conversely, they offer an equally powerful way in which your market can speak to you – and very loudly! Now more than ever, clients must consider a new arsenal of tools when talking to the outside worlds.

But which tools and tactics are most effective for online PR? What are the best practices and guidelines for using each tool appropriately? Here, Harris Associates’ PR director Tim Crowther names his top five…

Optimise yourself

Using search engines such as Bing, Google or Yahoo to find information about your company is commonplace, so pushing your company name higher up in the rankings of search results should be top of your list of priorities. Optimising news content with relevant and popular phrases is vital – higher up the results league means greater visibility!

Tweet, tweet, tweet

Understanding social media relations is an important part of the digital PR effort. Particularly in the consumer world, potential customers are spending time on, and being influenced by, social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It follows that creating proactive content and building relationships with users helps to accentuate everything that’s positive about your brand.

Tend to your digital assets

The videos, audio clips, podcasts, images, and other ‘digital assets’ hosted on many websites can present great PR opportunities. Optimising digital assets with relevant keywords and submitting to the likes of YouTube or Flickr can mean additional exposure of your brand. Remember, journalists frequently use search engines as part of their job.

Blog away

Written well, a company blog can be a really effective communications tool – it’s an opportunity for you create and publish your own content before an online audience of content creators. Blogs can rank well in the search engines, making them easy meat for journalists when researching stories.

Monitor the results

Never forget that online communication works both ways – the opportunity exists for both negative and positive comment about you and your business. That’s why it’s vital you keep an eye on where your name appears. Many tools exist to help you monitor it; the likes of Google Alerts, Social Mention or Twitter are effective devices to look out for mentions – and of course, for flagging up mentions of your competitors. You can also look for industry news. What you find can help you dream up new ideas, keep tabs on competitors and address any negative press quickly and directly.

So, a well-stocked digital toolbox should, at the very least, contain these five mechanisms, and Harris Associates has the skill to get the most value from them. Whether it’s to identify and build relationships with influential bloggers or make it easy for journalists to find your company when researching stories, the digital approach should go hand in hand with traditional PR tactics. Creating and promoting content on social web sites, along with knowledge of how to boost your search engine ranking, can offer substantial benefits and should be part of the communications mix – try it and see!

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