Digital PR: New Year’s Resolutions for Public Relations Professionals
According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 93% of adults get at least some news online. So, if you aren’t integrating outreach to online media sources into your PR strategy, it’s high time.
Both agency and in-house PR professionals have had difficulty truly gauging the success (or failures!) of their efforts. Long-standing, vague metrics like ad equivalency and impressions haven’t been able to fully translate the ROI of public relations in this very data-driven age.
With the start of a new year, it’s time to sit down and set the tone for 2019. We’ll break down some key resolutions for traditional PR professionals to help highlight the value of their work.
Resolution #1: Examine (and Overhaul) Your PR Tools
While there are a few PR tools that are long-standing key players in the industry, like Cision and Meltwater, it’s time to add some new tools in your communications toolbox. As the media landscape evolves, examine your efforts and seek out metrics that can showcase your digital successes. We suggest using tools like Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and Moz Pro.
Google Analytics is a free tool that can help communicators measure the value their PR strategies are bringing to a client’s website. Use your GA data to report on your website traffic – we’ll talk about what metrics to look for a bit later in this post.
Ahrefs, a paid SEO tool, is a one-stop-shop for digital metrics and is highly trusted within the industry. Any communicator worth her/his salt utilizes competitor research to shape communications strategies, and this tool will help with that task. Ahrefs is great for discovering what content performs well for your competitors, as well as provides keyword research and backlink profiles. Overall, Ahrefs is a great source of intel when putting together a competitive press plan.
Moz Pro is another must-have SEO tool that can be used for content ideation, as it unlocks key insights into how consumers are searching for your brand online. Knowing which keywords have high search volume will help you decide what content (if any) needs to be created or optimized for your audience.
Resolution #2: Upgrade Your Reporting Metrics
To be a successful PR practitioner, you need to understand what’s working and what’s not. Put standard benchmarks like UVPM and reach on the backburner, and look to some of these new metrics to supplement your reporting in the new year:
- Domain authority (DA): DA, scored from 1-100, predicts how well an entire web domain will rank in search engines. The higher the score, the more authoritative and credible the site – think along the lines of the New York Times (DA 95) or Forbes (DA 94), two sites that rank highly on this scale. Look at the DA scores for the companies you compete with and make it a goal to rank higher than your competitors.
- Average organic traffic per month: This number will tell you the amount of visitors that go to your site outside of any paid search efforts (i.e. using a search engine). Generally speaking, as your DA increases, you also have the potential to rank higher in search results and increase the amount of organic visitors to your site. You can locate this information in a tool like Ahrefs to track over time and integrate it into your reporting.
- Referral traffic: Curious as to whether or not that top-tier media placement drove as much traffic as you thought? Cue the referral traffic metric. This plays an important part in diagnosing which pieces of earned media are actually driving people to your website. So, forget ad value – take a look at this number to provide tangible numbers behind all your work.
- Google Analytics goals: Setting Goals in GA will allow you to track specific user interactions on your site. Essentially, when someone visiting your site performs the specific action that you’ve defined as a goal, it becomes a conversion. You can set this to anything you’d like, but we highly recommend tying it to sales or leads in order to further quantify any positive results from your press placements.
Resolution #3: Utilize SEO Strategies to Optimize Existing PR Wins
Link building, the strategy of getting websites to link back to your site, is a great way to boost your DA. Locate mentions that your brand is featured in through either a PR tool or search engine, and compile a list of articles that don’t contain a backlink. From there, reach out to the author and see if they’ll consider linking to your site in the article. This can be achieved using similar strategies typical PR pros would use for media relations outreach.
Existing listicles are great examples of places to start – any “top 10” or “best of” lists are compelling pieces of content that should link to you and drive consumer intent.
According to an article from Search Engine Land, “link building today is a lot more like traditional public relations in that it is all about quality — in terms of publications, people and exposure, rather than just the volume of links. Approach it with that mindset, put in the necessary work that most others won’t, and you’ll enjoy the results that they can only dream about.”
Remember – as you earn great links back from authoritative sources, it can often lead to an increase in organic and referral traffic. So, take a look at your existing accomplishments and see how you can capitalize on them even further.
Public relations professionals all have the same common goal: to tell your brand’s story in the best way possible in front of the right audience. Utilizing digital strategies, tools, and metrics can help accomplish that goal in the modern media landscape. While marketing counterparts become more data-driven, it’s imperative that PR professionals do the same in order to prove value to executives.