Graduating with my master’s degree was both exhilarating and terrifying. There was the satisfaction of knowing that I was finally done with academia but the fear of being unemployed for unforeseeable amounts of time. Luckily, I quickly found a temporary job and transitioned into my role as Marketing Outreach Specialist at Clearlink after a few months.

Hopeful

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You might be wondering what that entails, and believe me, I wondered the same thing myself. The clearest way to explain what I do as a Marketing Outreach Specialist is to think of it as digital public relations (PR). While both digital and traditional PR require persistence and strategic communication, there are some significant differences that come with working in digital PR. You must connect and build relationships with key influencers, bloggers, and the media in order to supply them with timely content that helps fulfill their need to constantly push out fresh, interesting stories for their readers.

I am finally feeling settled in my role, thanks to the endless questions I’ve asked and the patience and help I’ve received from my team. I feel as if I have a clear grasp on how to increase a brand’s digital presence and understand what it takes to create and promote the content that is going to rank for the things their customers are searching for.

Without further ado, here’s what I learned in my first 30 days in Digital PR.

  1. It can feel overwhelming at first.

During my first week of training, I definitely felt overwhelmed. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep with my eyes open at one point. Prepare yourself to learn about programs such as BuzzSumo, BuzzStream, Google Analytics, and other reporting platforms your company may use. Get ready to be schooled in how to read analytics to see if your PR efforts are driving traffic to your client’s website. And finally, be prepared to learn the history and current state of search engine optimization (SEO). Digital PR affects SEO in more ways than one, so you’ll need to know SEO fundamentals in order to understand how your work contributes to the bottom line.

  1. You send a lot of emails.

Today, email is the ultimate communication tool, and if you are trying to spread awareness for a client, you’re going to send a lot of emails. I’m not talking about 5 or 10—I’m talking about 15, 20, 25, some days even more. When sending so many emails a day, it is critical to make sure that you periodically take breaks and come back to your emails—I have made some embarrassing typos that wouldn’t have happened if I had slowed down a little.

  1. Relationships are everything.

Relationships

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This is universally acknowledged in the world of PR: whether you’re in traditional, digital, in-house or an agency, relationships are paramount. Relationships can make or break your efforts, both with your client and with your coworkers. You can’t do everything on your own, and I rely on my team a lot to help me brainstorm and think of new angles to take on topics.

  1. Twitter is king.

When creating relationships with journalists and online contributors, Twitter has been an amazing tool. A lot of the time, it’s next to impossible to find journalists’ email addresses. Use Twitter to connect with people who might otherwise be difficult to contact. Twitter is a great way to genuinely build your relationship with people and then ask for email addresses once it seems appropriate. Many times, you’ll even find an email address right there in the user’s bio!

  1. Building trust and brand awareness is huge.

You may have guessed this one already given my focus on relationships, but it is true when they say that building trust is key. If you are trying to convince an editor that you have a compelling story to share, or if you’re telling a journalist that your brand is amazing, why should they take your word for it? Forge strong relationships with your contacts and prove that you are a valuable resource that can be trusted to create great content whenever it’s needed.

  1. You read everything and anything.

Depending on your client, chances are you are going to become very familiar with their brand and everything and anything related to them. For example, if you represent a brand that deals dark chocolate, you will most likely become an expert on chocolate and anything even remotely related to it. You’ll be reading all the time to stay current and to read about the latest developments in the field you need to cover, as well as keeping up with articles written by your favorite journalists.

  1. Sometimes, people just don’t care.

This is a lifelong lesson. Sometimes, your parents just don’t care about your novel plan to have ice-cream for dinner when you’re six years old. Sometimes, Ivy League Colleges don’t care about the scholarship application you spent six weeks on. And sometimes, people just don’t care about what you are pitching to them. It can be annoying and downright disheartening some days, but it is important to persist. Often, your email can simply get lost in the mass of emails and it can be helpful to send a friendly follow up email.

  1. A lot of time and effort goes into creating great content.

creating-content

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When you are trying to contribute content to top notch sites, it can be a lot easier to interest people when you actually have an article written instead of sending them a bunch of unexplained pitches. However, creating good content takes a lot of time and effort, so it is wise to pick your battles. If you are going after some really ‘big’ websites and news outlets, it might be worth the extra time and effort if your content gets placed with a mention of your client.

  1. Timing is everything.

Even if you have the coolest news, sometimes it all comes down to luck and whether or not your pitch is timely or not. Yes, it may be amazing that your client recently launched a new swimwear line—only problem is that it’s winter. It can really make or break your pitch if you take the extra time to think about how you can pose your idea as timely and useful for them and their readers.

  1. At the end of the day, it’s really rewarding.

Despite all the challenges and various frustrations that come with the start of any job, I can honestly say that I love mine! It’s especially rewarding when my carefully-crafted pitches turn into stories, or when I get accepted as a contributor to a reputable website on behalf of the brands I represent. There’s never a dull moment in PR, as long as you continue to build and maintain valuable relationships every single day.

While these are just my experiences in digital PR, I am curious to hear about your experience. Has your journey through digital PR mirrored mine in any way?