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Why do businesses need digital PR?

With the business landscape saturated and competitive, digital PR deserves your time and attention if you’re to gain a competitive edge and drive growth.

Imagine you’re doing some online shopping for a particular product – you make a search and see a few relevant results…

The top result is a brand you recognise. They have good reviews, a good-looking website that’s easy to use, and you’ve heard good things about them.

The other is a few results down the list; you’ve not heard of them, their branding is sloppy, their website is clunky and they have plenty of bad reviews… and if you were to look them up, you’d even see some negative stories in the press about them.

Which one are you going to buy from?

I’ll bet that even if the second company was selling the same product for less, you’d still pick the first one – and that’s all because of digital PR.

PR builds brand recognition

Let’s break this scenario down into the four reasons why you’d probably make this choice, and the first reason is brand recognition.

For this to happen, you need to have seen the brand before, the branding needs to be clear and distinctive and it needs to make an impression. You also need to gain a level of understanding as to what the organisation does, which can be implied through the branding itself.

We can go into ridiculous detail here on things like colour theory and graphic design, but branding is also the things you communicate on a most basic level. This includes the words and phrases you use to make the connection between what you look like and what you do.

For this, you’ll need some key messages – the most basic, most important points you want your prospective customers to know. If you’re a professional pressure washer for example, a key message could be ‘we clean driveways’ or your unique selling point ‘we use sustainable cleaning products’, for example.

You’d be amazed how many companies fail to say these basic things on their outward-facing platforms.

You then need to get your branding, including your key messages, noticed by your target audience and this can be through your wider marketing efforts or through other media, which we’ll come to in a moment.

PR amplifies good reviews

PR can’t do much to help you deliver a great service and have satisfied customers; that depends on you, your team and your products and services, but it can help you get good reviews.

No, we don’t mean by buying people off or writing fake reviews, we mean by encouraging and directing happy customers to places where they can leave reviews that will have the most benefit to your business. This might mean reviewing your business on Google, TripAdvisor, Just Eat, etc.

Reviews are one of the first things you see when you search for a business and they add to your credibility and perceived reliability, so you’d be missing out not to make the most of this.

Even something as simple as adding a link to these review pages to your confirmation emails, thank you pages or email signatures can make a difference, as well as physical signs if your business has people visiting in person.

Once the reviews come in, you can get them spotted more easily by adding a corresponding widget to your website or sharing the best comments on social media or your other marketing.

Of course, not all reviews will be glowing – and if you are getting a lot of bad ones, maybe you should shy away from making reviews more prominent – but you can respond to negative comments to gently and politely set out a more positive case. 

This might mean acknowledging a problem or some criticism and then explaining what you’re doing about it or why even why the reviewer might not be right. Responding to reviews requires a light touch but it means that if anyone sees the criticism online, they also see your response in the same place which can help limit the damage.

Building a website with PR in mind

Website developers are generally excellent at the technical process of building a website that looks great and is easy to navigate but they don’t necessarily have as much interest in the words on the page.

We’ve touched upon the use of key messages and phrases, but all of the rest of the text on your website needs to be just as impactful while also reading well.

The copy has to be short, snappy and absolutely crystal clear. It can communicate your brand’s personality and connect with the reader, speaking directly to them. The wording also has to direct people through the website to the most appropriate places, hopefully ending with them making a purchase or enquiry.

Your website is your most valuable space to showcase who you are and what you do, so you might want to highlight the people behind the business to help people know that real, likeable human beings run it. You also need to communicate what you do, what you sell and all the great things about it without boring people.

SEO is also a critical part of digital PR. As well as the key messages we discussed, you also need to be mindful of your target keywords. These are the words and phrases your target audience might be searching to find businesses like yours, so you need to identify these and put them in the right places throughout your site.

If you’re really clever, your key messages could be SEO keywords themselves, scoring you bonus points, but you might also want dedicated pages for particular keywords.

Of course, you also want your website looking great, tying in seamlessly with your other branding and having a slick, quick and simple interface, so graphic designers and web developers can be a big help with this.

How PR can make a good impression

So you’ve got a recognisable brand, some good reviews and a great website, you now need to get people to think favourably of you.

Hopefully, each of the above steps will help toward that but you can go much, much further.

With social media, you have a huge opportunity to reach new audiences with posts you have almost complete control over but you should avoid using it to brazenly advertise yourself.

Instead, you should focus on providing things people might like to see or would appreciate seeing.

Using content within your digital PR strategy

Content marketing, which is part of PR, is about producing material people will find helpful, interesting or engaging. This can demonstrate the virtues of your team or your products and services without looking like an advert, but you can also use your content to show off your expertise in a format that’s just like the material your target audience enjoys.

You can also write blogs designed to show up when people search for questions that are relevant to what you do, providing real advice and guidance using your expertise.

You can also use third party media for content marketing; writing features or providing commentary to newspapers, magazines, TV and websites to get involved in helping them make content for your shared audiences.

Content marketing is useful because it builds a relationship with an audience; it helps them to trust and appreciate your brand and understand what you do and what you’re like.

Utilising company news

Another way to make an impression is to be in the news with positive news stories about yourselves. We’re not necessarily talking about getting page 1 of The Sun, it’s better (and more realistic) to get in the media your target audience consumes in their daily lives. If you’re a B2B company with a target geography, then you can share news about your organisation with your local business magazine for example.

Sharing good news about your business about milestones, new hires, client wins, new services or trends and interesting developments can easily drum up some good publicity, provided that it’s not too adverty.

On the other hand, bad publicity can shatter your reputation, so you need to be on guard ready to put your side across to any negative coverage and nip negative rumours in the bud. For this, you’ll need a crisis comms strategy in place and a cool head under pressure.

Need help with your PR?

If you need help becoming a well-recognised, highly-rated company with a good reputation and a slick website, our digital PR team can help.

At Carrington, we specialise in all things PR and we work with a wide range of organisations across Lincolnshire, the East Midlands, the UK and the WORLD.

To find out more about our digital PR services, get in touch to find out how we can help your business to flourish.