7 Digital PR Techniques That Will Strengthen Your Brand During the COVID-19 Outbreak
2020 is proving the importance of public relations, especially digital public relations. The coronavirus pandemic, political unrest, international tensions, employee and customer safety concerns, and impending layoffs are all major concerns of consumers that need to be addressed.
With 71% of traditional journalists reporting that they feel the public doesn’t trust them, the new frontier for connecting with people is online. To do this, companies must test new methods and master digital PR.
Digital content has amplified and changed the significance of public relations, as information becomes more widely available and more democratized. Furthermore, the coronavirus global health crisis has forced people to rely even more on digital communications.
How do PR firms maintain that ever-important “human touch” consumers crave in the digital era? In this article, we will discuss the top 7 ways PR companies can achieve success and connect with the public through the use of digital PR techniques.
What Is Digital PR and Why Is It Important?
It’s estimated that about 60% of PR executives think digital content and working with influencers is key to connect with audiences in the future. This statistic reflects the industry shift away from press releases and traditional media publications to bolster credibility. PR firms are increasingly going direct to the consumer with their outreach or receiving aid from social media influencers, often with great success.
One digital PR firm reported that they increased website traffic for a London law firm by 311% by improving website content. Even companies that were already digitized can benefit greatly from better digital PR. Exposure Ninja recently announced that they increased sales for an e-commerce store by 63% by focusing on digital PR.
What Are the Top 7 Digital PR Techniques for 2020?
1. Blog Articles With Valuable Information
Most of us understand the importance of blogging to optimize SEO. Obviously, in an increasingly digital age, search engines will become even more important for the success of businesses. A recent study found that 53% of Americans consider the internet an essential part of life.
Consider working with outside writers or industry professionals to provide new articles for your blog. Incorporating statistics, especially when accompanied by pie charts, graphs, or other images, make your posts more valuable and eye-catching.
Providing valuable content on your blog gives prospects value for free and helps build trust with the public. As increasing economic uncertainty leads companies to discuss cost containment strategies, consumers are looking for value more than ever.
If you are a software company, for example, you should consider offering free use of your digital invoicing services during the pandemic in order to boost your sales and your image. It also helps you know when an invoice is viewed, becomes due, or gets paid, so you can take the right actions to manage your cash flow.
2. Community Panels
As people struggle to cope with the uncertainties that 2020 has brought us, the need for expert insight has never been greater. The future of the economy, the recovery of hard-hit industries, and the continually evolving corporate commitment to social causes are topics that raise interest. Chances are, you or someone from your company has great insight to offer on a particular subject, or else you wouldn’t be in business!
Engaging in community panels will strengthen your industry presence and allow your company to network with potential clients. It will also certainly help boost your company’s image as insightful, ahead of the curve, communicative and helpful.
3. Video or Streaming via Facebook Live or Instagram Reel
Most people don’t have time to read a long-winded blog article. Short videos convert visitors to buyers and effectively relay a message. Streaming platforms like Facebook Live allow you to go live, which capitalizes on people’s fear of missing out (FOMO) and desire to be a part of a larger group. It’s a great way to capture attention.
It’s important to remember that when using social media platforms, especially live streaming features, your content should be backed up with cloud storage that will be designed to help you hone in on the service that makes the most sense for your needs. The unique video content you create usually disappears after 24 hours, and depending on how well the session went, you may want to preserve the video for future use.
LA Fitness, Equinox, and other gyms used virtual live streaming workouts to help connect people and retain membership during the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to book tickets and engage travelers with promotions, Royal Caribbean had great success with their live stream channel which videos sunrises and sunsets as the ships travel across ports. They even hold virtual happy hours for their stuck-at-home followers.
4. Give Voice to Unique Perspectives and Insights in Your Content
Don’t be another voice in an echo chamber. Always seek to provide unique insights, independent research, and valuable content to the public. Even if what you have to offer is merely anecdotal, it beats safe but generic and repetitive content.
The public is much more likely to connect with a message that is personalized and unique to the company rather than a bland PR campaign. Allowing employees and customers to have a voice in your PR efforts can do wonders to improve your company’s image. Amazon deftly incorporated this concept in their recent ads narrated by their employees about their increased safety standards.
Remember that mental health is the main focus right now, so try to offer perspectives that remind people that your company isn’t only about profits but about people, too.
The line between marketing and public relation continues to become blurred, as more and more people seek to buy from brands that reflect their personal values. Consider using your marketing team’s automated email marketing list to reach out to the public with an important message. A “message from our CEO” may be more likely to be clicked and read than a marketing email, and may even result in a sales conversion.
Unchecked automated emails can lead to a PR disaster, so it’s important for your marketing and PR team to work closely anyway. After all, several studies show that email marketing is still more effective at engaging and converting users than any social media channel in existence. Email tactics that are not generic or overly intrusive are best – an email subject related to a current event or trending topic is most successful. For example, if the Emmy Awards are happening tomorrow, you can write an email centered on some of the television shows that highlight your industry. If you can link back to a social media page where people can comment and further the discussion, even better!
6. Capture Unlinked Mentions
Finding a positive mention of your company that is unlinked is like using a metal detector to find precious jewelry. The value is already there, you just need to dig it up! Presumably, many people online are talking about your company in a positive way. However, they may have no reason to provide a link back to your website.
Here are some ways you can capture unlinked mentions:
- Try searching for your company’s name in different search engines to see what pops up.
- On social media, search for hashtags relevant to your specific product or service to see if you can locate an unlinked mention of your company.
- Do an image search. Many platforms like Google Images will allow you to take photos from your website and search to see where else the images are being placed online.
Consider reaching out to publishers and social media users asking them to backlink to your website. Offer to give their post about your brand a spotlight on your feed to provide social proof of the worthiness of your brand. Furthermore, this is a wonderful way to make your existing clients and customers feel heard and appreciated.
7. Engaging Content on Social Media
Social media is king when it comes to digital PR. The science of persuasion tells us that social proof is integral in convincing someone to buy your product or service. Getting people to talk about your brand in a positive way on social media, or collaborating with an influencer, can help bolster your brand’s image.
Engaging with social media users online is key as well. In 2020, consumers are no longer happy to be simply sold to — they want to be heard and given a platform for voicing their thoughts. Polls, quizzes, and responding to comments and questions open up a dialogue about your company.
PR companies have always understood the value of digital outreach efforts. Now that the global COVID-19 crisis has many people shuttered inside their home, being able to maintain that “human touch” remotely has become crucial.
The ability to build your brand’s image in an increasingly complex, politically diverse landscape is challenging but ultimately the key to the long-term survival of any company.