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Moving from traditional PR to digital PR and 7 tips to succeed

Having spent the last two years working for a traditional PR consultancy, I recently made the jump into the world of digital marketing, and more specifically, digital PR! I was immediately thrown into a world of domain authority, key words, MOZ toolbars, PPC, SEO (on and off page), Google ranking, alt texts, and most importantly, link building.

Moving into digital PR did seem overwhelming at first. While a lot of my traditional PR skills are transferable into the digital world, there was still a huge amount to take on board and learn. Now at Hallam Internet, a Digital Marketing Agency, I have a greater understanding and experience of both the traditional and digital PR worlds. I thought it would be interesting to take a slightly closer look at what I've learnt, and offer a few tips.

What I've Learnt

The most important lesson I’ve learnt so far, is that understanding SEO is an absolutely vital skill for any PR practitioner. It changes the way you think and write, and can have a huge impact upon the way you approach your outreach.

Most traditional agencies now have a much better understanding of the digital world and use this as a channel of communication, some better than others. We can’t run away from it: PR and SEO are merging, and communicating now is not as simple as first seems.

In its simplest terms, PR is about protecting and enhancing a business’s reputation. So whether that’s through a newspaper or a blog, digital and traditional PR have similar aims. The difference is only the way in which we communicate and reach our target audience.

Traditional PRs are great at their job, but digital marketers and SEOs attempting to be excellent digital PRs might find it difficult. They’ll need to take what they know about digital marketing and try and get into the mind-set of a PR. Understanding this and adapting is vital for digital marketers to embrace going forward.

I've had to change my mind-set towards PR, before I used client news to outreach to my target media, usually in the form of a press release. Now, I research and target certain online media, and then see how I can generate engaging content for the client.

But essentially, the fundamental skills, tactics and strategy which are used in digital PR are not all that different to those used in more traditional PR. They both involve creative, interesting content that communicates key messaging to their target audience. The main difference is that in digital PR, it’s likely that you can reach a larger, relevant audience for a longer period of time.

My Top Tips

Here are my tops tips to be successful in digital PR:

  • Identify the online media outlets and social media platforms your customer’s/target audience read.
  • Download the MozBar to help identify which online sites are worth pursuing.
  • Find out who’s influential online in your client’s industry – bloggers, journalists or simply other professionals active on social media. Connect with them and get to know them. Why not favourite their tweets? Get on their radar!
  • Get active online, be it blogging, joining in LinkedIn group discussions, or sharing interesting content on Twitter. Not only will your audience inevitably grow, but your PR activity may then be more effective, mainly because you’ll have authority, or at least known as someone who is engaging online.
  • Make all your copy work harder by repurposing or changing your work to create additional online content. Make life easier for yourself!
  • Don’t write 1,000 words when 300 will do. What is the message? Who is reading it?
  • Finally, don’t be put off. There is a LOT of rejection in both digital and traditional PR. You need thick skin to work in PR.

I hope this has given you an insight into my experience and knowledge moving from traditional to digital PR. One thing I definitely know is that, whether you’re practising digital or traditional PR, coffee remains absolutely essential.