Get the right Digital PR for your agency

In the last decade, PR and marketing have changed dramatically - the term digital PR has become the norm in the PR industry and has had an impact on how we now view PR and marketing. It's difficult to attend a digital conference without a focus on the role of public relations within digital, or the on-going debate between SEO and PR, being mentioned.

In this section of our Digital Marketing Recruitment Guide, Emily Wignall, a Senior Account Executive at PR Agency One, reveals what to look for when hiring a Digital PR for your agency.

One of the first rules of a digital PR is not to dismiss traditional PR media relations, creative storytelling and innovative campaigns. These are tried and tested methods, and the quality and creativity of a PR's storytelling are often what sets us apart from your average digital professional.

A public relations professional is well seasoned in engaging with influencers, journalists and other stakeholders, and has a wealth of skills to promote, and furthermore, connect with the target audience. While PR remains largely a media relations led discipline, the 'digital' aspect of communications often takes the form of content marketing, social media and search.

Digital PR is still somewhat of a growing skill set, and not all PRs have moved forward into the online space. If you ask 100 PRs for a definition of digital PR, you might get 100 different answers. In my opinion, the difference between traditional PR and digital PR is not only the awareness of online trends and the social web but, more importantly, understanding the relationship between PR and search engine visibility.

Search engines such as Google have implemented updates including, Penguin and Panda, which have made many SEO techniques redundant. However, Search and PR now complement each other and PR has significant influence over search engine ranking factors. The answer to the changing face of SEO has been to incorporate PR and content marketing into campaigns, but now the two are becoming even more interlinked. It has never been so important to incorporate SEO into your everyday PR role.

Here are a few must-have skills for a Digital PR professional - combining your traditional and digital skillsets:

Data Analysis

It is important to understand how to measure and report on PR outcomes. An evaluation tool such as Google Analytics should be an everyday tracking solution for a digital PR professional.

It's also valuable to be able to understand where website traffic is being referred from  - whether it be from social media platforms, organic search or non-organic search. Being able to determine the different sorts of traffic will make you able to report to the client, explaining clear conversions and ROI.

SEO tools

I am a great believer in learning about the various SEO tools - if only to represent the importance of great PR coverage.

My favourite SEO tools are Moz and Majestic SEO. I use Moz to aid in identifying new outreach targets and even coverage reporting. Majestic SEO is a tool I use for understanding a client's link profile or assessing a link profile of a competitor or potential place of coverage. I evaluate the trust flow and citation flow and then weigh up the value of a link on a particular website. These SEO tools are particularly helpful when researching a blog or website where coverage has been, or probably will be, attained.

Industry knowledge - and prepare to keep learning

'Digital' is ever-changing, and so will the role of a digital PR. Therefore, it's important to keep up to date with the latest developments in the industry.

There are plenty of great news sites and blogs that will keep you in the loop with industry change.

I also make sure I attend as many digital events as possible. As I am based in Manchester, I make sure I go to as many of Manchester Digital events and at the twice-annual SAScon conference. It's events like these that provide me with the latest information regarding the digital space and offer insight into the shaping of digital scene.

Social media engagement

Social and PR have become an integrated offering for many agencies. However, a number of PRs attribute digital solely to the growing social streams.

I think social is a great way to engage with an audience and provide brand awareness. However, to get great ROI from social, such as increasing online visibility and building brand engagement, it is paramount that all your media content is meaningful and engaging, not just the content shared on Twitter, Facebook and the like.

Social media should be strategic, and should never lose sight of having end goals such as conversions or increasing web traffic. Too many agencies are simply producing social content that is not making a difference to the bottom line of their client's business.