Digital PR and Social Media are often thought of as the same thing. Just as media relations is a big part of PR, it is not the entirety of the discipline and so too with social media and Digital PR.

PR offline or on is about building awareness, credibility and goodwill. It’s about building a presence and gaining the understanding and support of your stakeholders. PR has always been about creating a favorable operating climate for a company or organization. Digital PR is no different. It’s about building that presence online, understanding the digital landscape you operate in and developing strong relationships with all the players in your social graph. The techniques include SEO, content development, social media, online newsrooms, websites, blogs and online media coverage.

Online Reputation

Social media and consumer generated content can have a rapid effect on your reputation – both positive and negative. Understanding SEO (search engine optimization) is not just a vital skill for PR practitioners today – it’s crucial.

Should an online crisis hit your business the event itself will be bad enough, but the aftermath of the negative content online can extend the effect of the crisis well into the future. Every time someone does a search for your company’s name that pesky negative content will show up. Search engines index content on relevance. If you don’t understand how the search algorithms work and how to move that content down the rankings, it will linger like a bad fish smell.

Building relationships

Digital PR makes use of social media platforms, networks and tools to interact with people online and build relationships. The social media part is the content and conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. The Digital PR part is the support functions needed to make those conversations relevant and effective – research, social audits, identifying influencers, developing and distributing the content.

Visual Content

The demand for visual content is growing rapidly and is set to continue into the future. Part of Digital PR today is adding visual content to the PR mix – images, videos, infographics. These are new skills for most PR folk, even recent graduates. Few schools are including visual content production and distribution in their curriculum. You need to know how to use your phone and your tablet to take great photos, make interesting images and produce quick videos that enhance a news story.

Monitor and Measure

Another new area for PR people is measurement. We’re not used to monitoring conversations and tracking everything. In the digital world it is possible to track everything and there are many affordable tools you can use:

  • Google Analytics (Read SAMS Teach yourself Google Analytic sin 10 minutes. Read Avinash Kaushik’s )
  • Facebook Insights
  • YouTube insights
  • Twitter Counter
  • FollowerWonk
  • CrowdBooster
  • NetVibes Dashboard

Digital PR is not so different from traditional PR – the goal is to create an online presence that correctly reflects who we are, what we stand for and what we do and to build relationships with our stakeholders so we can develop and foster that favorable operating climate. We use a number of techniques to achieve that. Social Media is one them.

If you have not yet mastered the new skills needed to succeed in Digital PR training should be top of your list in 2013.