While marketing and communications professions have traditionally been delineated into categories such as public relations, marketing, branding and advertising, those broad labels get significantly more complicated when terms like digital, social media, content marketing and SEO get thrown into the mix. Which practice belongs to which profession? Who is responsible for what?
Public relations has traditionally focused on public announcements, events and earned media in print and broadcast news outlets, but as the world shifts online, the realm of public relations will continue to expand. The need for digital public relations skills is one of the most significant ways that the profession is growing, especially as online visibility, engagement and relationships will only continue to grow in importance. Defined as, “an online marketing strategy used to increase a business’ online presence through gaining high-quality backlinks, social media mentions, and an improved their SEO ranking,” digital public relations encompasses much more than pitches and media lists.
If a public relations professional wants to thrive going forward, it is paramount that they master the following digital public relations skills to flourish as the industry continues to move online.
A Strong Grasp Of Social Media
It is no secret that social media has revolutionized the public relations profession. Rather than being a specialized skill under the marketing umbrella, public relations practitioners must now have competence and experience across several social media platforms. This is because of the enormous role that social media plays in digital public relations. In fact, a recent study reported that 81 percent of public relations professionals feel they cannot do their jobs without it.
Real-time communication allows a message to be stronger and spread to an even larger audience. Brands are now able to talk directly to their target audience, and the public relations professionals developing this messaging must have a solid understanding of how to use platforms to generate results – positive social media mentions are priceless.
However, social media skills are not only necessary for brand messaging in 2020. Journalists are widely considered to “own” Twitter, creating countless networking opportunities for both aspiring and established public relations mavens. Creating high-quality posts for your personal brand and engaging with media counterparts is necessary for survival in this new age of public relations.
A Sophisticated SEO Understanding
While a basic grasp of search engine optimization is important to public relations professionals, those who understand the practice and are capable of developing a sound strategy for clients will be the ones who flourish going forward.
It is practically every brand’s dream to appear in the number one ranked spot on Google when people search certain keywords. However, 91 percent of pages never get any organic traffic from Google, mostly due to the fact that they don’t have any backlinks. Backlinks are paramount to a digital public relations strategy, and it is the public relations professional’s job to know how to get them.
Whether it is through earned media coverage, guest posting or another tactic, reputable and credible backlinks from a source that ranks high in Google’s algorithm are extremely valuable. In order to make this happen, public relations professionals need to complete keyword research and identify places where they could gain a backlink. Creating relevant content that can be repurposed into multiple forms and securing contributor pages on quality websites can work wonders for a brand’s SEO ranking and, consequently, their online reputation management and name recognition.
An Ability To Learn New Systems And Technology
The digital space is constantly changing, and perhaps the most important skill for a digital public relations professional to have is an ability to adapt and learn new skills. In some cases, this may mean staying up to date on new technology and approaches to gain recognition for brands. In the public relations industry, there are countless ways to offer fresh value, especially as new technology and features are introduced.
With the public relations profession constantly changing and developing, the professionals who cultivate the right skills and experience now will be best positioned to thrive going forward.
Cassidy Henning is an Assistant Account Coordinator at Flackable, a national, full-service public relations agency headquartered in Philadelphia. To learn more about Flackable, please visit www.flackable.com.