One of the issues of digital that there’s no clear line that divides the work between PR firms and digital agencies. While there are no set rules, allow me to share some thoughts based on working on all four sides (client, media, digital agency, and PR). In short this is how I would build a PR agency in the digital age.
To stay true to the core of PR, we will stick with earned and owned media here and exclude paid media.
1. Putting Analytics at the Heart of PR
Digital PR should be data-driven and every decision and recommendation should be backed by available analytics. There are a variety of tools that will allow PR professionals to measure influence, reach, authority, and effectiveness.
For basics here are the tools that digital PR executives should know:
- Google Analytics
- Moz’s Open Site Explorer
Apart from having the data, one critical skill PR firms should have is interpreting it and properly explaining it to clients. I’ve sat in too many presentations where the agency assumed that the client knew what a “Klout” score is all about. Numbers without contexr are just plain numerical statements. For it to be actionable there needs to be context.
*There are more complex and better tools to measure influencers but they will need significant financial investment. We will tackle this in a separate post.
2. Earned Influencer and Publisher MarketingA key expertise and service that Digital PR outfits should have is Influencer Marketing. This includes bloggers, Instagram micro-celebrities, celebrities, and the more established digital publishers.
We’ll do a deep dive on this in a separate post in this series but let me quickly address one major mistake of a lot of local PR firms make — initially building and then just managing a list or stable of media contacts. PR firms should constantly refresh and update their digital influencer lists (2x a month scans).
Micro-celebrities are born everyday and the true strength and potential of digital PR can be found in the longtail of micro-celebrities. I’m talking about going for 500 Instagram micro-celebrities with 2k followers each versus going for 1 celebrity with 1M followers. It’s all about authenticity/credibility (especially if you want conversions and sales, not just awareness) and you usually don’t get that with celebrities.
Take note that this service also includes brand activations for Influencers. Usually getting them in an event to creatively experience the brand helps in not just ensuring output but also helps build relationships with them.
3. Digital Brand Health
PR firms need to take ownership of the digital image/brand health of their clients. This includes Search Engine results on Google. PR firms should regularly monitor and act on negative and positive results for the company, the brands, and the key leaders of their clients.
A major step forward for a PR firm is to create a Digital PR Brand Health dashboard. This can include Search results, social sentiment analysis, and social escalated issues (including VIP and media CX management). Once that dashboard is set up, it boils down to having a process and the discipline to regularly check, report, and act on the data.
4. Crisis Management
And this leads us to the last but definitely not the least core service of a digital PR firm — crisis management. With the advent of social media, any brand can face a major crisis that can cause major damage overnight. PR firms should have a crisis management framework applicable for digital channels (especially Facebook because this is where all the major issues go viral). The processes and steps need to be predefined so that you can quickly move when it happens. Obviously they will serve more of a guide than a hardcore must-follow rulebook for crisis but at least you have something to fall back to.
There are more services that you can add to this list but these will probably be the 4 in-demand core services that you can offer and get expertise behind. By clearly defining your services and expertise your PR firm can stand apart from the rest. Most agencies in the Philippines today are still traditional (they just apply what they’ve been doing for print/tv/radio for digital).
This post is part of a series of articles on “Digital PR in the Philippines”. Here’s the complete set:
- 4 Core Services of a Digital PR Firm
- The Mistake of Commoditizing Bloggers and Influencers
- What’s the Difference Between Digital PR and Traditional PR?
- How to Maximize Low-Mid Traffic Bloggers for your PR Campaign
- How bloggers and influencers can manage PR agencies and clients
- When Should You Pay Bloggers and Influencers?
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