Digital Public Relations: The New Basics

Bryan Bjerke
May 31, 2016

Public relations has always been about making connections between clients and the public. You know, the basics—like news releases, public service announcements, guest editorials, special events, etc.

But today, given the multitude of digital marketing formats, opportunities and styles, PR requires another set of basics to make meaningful connections by telling stories that are relevant or thought provoking.

It’s about having conversations with people over digital platforms that make it easy to enhance those connections while maintaining a respectful level of intimacy and trust. When handled effectively, that intimacy and trust can translate to increased audiences for your clients and their brands, and that should lead to increased sales.

These digital tools enable us to bring stories to life through social media, podcasts, videos and live, spur-of-the-moment online events. The challenge is to take relevant information and create stories that have a life of their own.

New basics that digital public relations need to live by include:

  • It’s there, forever. In the Days-Before-Digital (DBD), you had to either be a hoarder or a frequent library user to keep stories around and in use. In the digital world, stories are never gone. When it comes to PR that is generally a very good thing. If you’re doing your job, there are very few, if any, one-day stories.
  • Everyone can have a say. Digital democracy is a given, so planning for, and inclusion of, input and opinions is an important element to include in any digital PR effort. It’s also important to have your guidelines and standards for online conversations and controversy in place.
  • Honesty is the only policy. The old-fashioned PR spin can ring pretty hollow these days. Corporate-speak must be replaced by straightforward, but interesting, information on the relevance or usefulness of a client’s product or idea. No fact fudging, because research is only a Google click or two away.
  • The blog’s the thing. Getting your story placed in traditional media and all of its digital forms is still valuable. But you’ll also want to pay attention to bloggers who are key influencers in the space your client wants to occupy. The benefits of this exposure can be tracked and measured in a number of clear-cut ways to demonstrate value.
  • It’s now, not never. Again, back in the DBD, news cycles could stretch for days, if not weeks, and the response times to controversy or crisis could be less urgent. Now, controversy and crisis happens in real time and your response is measured in minutes and seconds. That’s another reason to have your flexible, adaptive plan in place.

So embrace the new basics mixed with the traditional elements of PR, add a healthy dose of ethics and you’ll never long for the good old DBD.

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