If Traditional PR is “Earned Media”, I define Digital PR as “Earned Social Media”! – Part III

In part 1 and 2 of this column we discussed the first five mantras of setting up a robust Digital PR vertical in your organisations. Just to recap, they are;

  1. Establish a realistic vision
  2. Identify the Landscape – The playground, the players (read influencers)
  3. Establish a Content Strategy
  4. Establish a standard format of a Digital PR press release
  5. Online laced with offline rocks!

It sounds easy and for veteran’s in the business reading this, it may sound like, “there’s no rocket science” in this. Which is true. But when it comes to on ground implementation, the realities start dawning! The traditional PR mindset is so strongly embedded that it can actually become an impediment. So, let’s shift gears and get in to the final two steps that will ensure a smooth roll out of your digital PR vertical!

  • Institutionalise the digital PR process and develop appropriate competencies

This by far has been the toughest of the steps! Expectation setting with brand managers is key when you run a digital PR campaign. The propensity to pay (advertising) and get digital outcomes is high. And if we say, we are “earned social media”, we have to first prove that we can deliver even though algorithms go against us. But it’s worth the effort as digital PR can drive narratives authentically. And it is possible if the planning is right. And for that, a lead time is crucial. In the traditional format, I have seen my own team churning out press conferences in a days’ notice and managing to get the message out effectively. Not in case of digital PR, though! Compelling content has to be curated, influencers need to be identified, briefing has to be robust, repurposing has to be high quality and most importantly, platforms need to be identified to maximise the reach and effectiveness. So to make all this happen, a process of getting briefs in advance, having the PR machinery embedded in the entire planning process of a product launch and co-creation of content needs to be in place. This calls for a cultural change in the way one looks at PR and also the need to institutionalise a process with appropriate expectation setting. It happens when one starts experiencing the robust outcomes. 

Traditional PR competencies are well embedded and the expertise is available across members of the in-house and consultancy teams. However, even though there are overlaps, I feel, digital PR requires a focused effort to build a set of competencies that have been ignored before. To run a good digital PR program, PR professionals will have to invest time in enhancing their knowledge of SEO, campaign management, understanding of the digital landscape space, and further build their capabilities around influencer engagement and networking, design thinking, digital measurement, just  to name a few. You may refer to my earlier column in this series (Vox Essence 11 – Re-imagining the role of an in-house communicator!). It elaborates the new role of a communicator. This subject of competencies necessitates a separate column and I shall soon write one specifically on the topic.

  • Set up listening tools for review

Having set up all the above six mantras, you are all set to roll out your digital PR blitz. However, with a successful digital PR outreach, ORM (Online Reputation Management becomes indispensable. With large prevalence of online platforms, social media king makers and the power to frame narratives about brands in the hands of the common man, “listening” garners huge significance. Good news is that robust tools are available for online and offline listening.  Technology makes it possible to track each and every conversation about your brand. It enables faster response and a two way communication with your consumers. Of course, it alerts you in real time in case of any detrimental narrative that comes up. I am excited about this as I personally witnessed our ORM tool at Godrej delivering by alerting us on a few potential crisis which were mitigated due to strategic interventions basis real time input from the listening tool. The advantage of these tools is that you can witness the campaign unfold, compare it with an identified peer set, course correct your strategy and of course measure the outcomes in real time. The future is super cool in this area as AI in the future would use this same data to give you realistic real time updates, help you take better decisions and ultimately ensure the success of your brand. Ain’t that something we constantly aim for?

As we now say, digital PR is no rocket science but what goes behind setting up a robust process for establishing it in your PR arsenal is nothing short of a symphony that involves various streams of communications coming together to play their part in the most perfect manner! 

As ever, always available to share our learnings at Godrej. I am just a call or an email away! 

Sujit M Patil, ABC on FacebookSujit M Patil, ABC on LinkedinSujit M Patil, ABC on Twitter
Sujit M Patil, ABC
Sujit is responsible for building and sustaining Godrej group’s reputation across stakeholders. An IABC accredited business communicator and a three time winner of the IABC International Gold Quill award, he has been listed as India’s top ten men in corporate communications by Reputation Today and featured on the PR Week Global Power Book.

In 2018, Sujit was listed on the Holmes Report’s Influence 100 research and listing of the world’s most influential in-house marketing and communications professionals. A speaker and jury at various national and international bodies such as the WCF Davos, AMEC, PR Newsweek Asia, Public Affairs Asia etc., Sujit is a part of the prestigious Arthur W Page Society.

He volunteers as a guest faculty at various B-Schools, is a weekend farmer, loves travelling, understanding cultures and experimenting with new cuisines.

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