Digital Marketing and PR Working Together

Digital marketing and PR have long been competing forces in business. In traditional work environments, digital marketing and advertising worked in one area while public relations worked separately in another.

In the office of the marketing team, they were busy collecting data and working to build out sales and leads. Additionally, they were researching new channels to test on and ensuring they were visible to customers, both repeat ones as well as new ones.

In the PR office, time was being spent on media relations and getting the message out there as wide as possible. This meant getting your client mentioned on as many large media publications as possible while monitoring overall sentiment for the client and staying up to date on any industry happenings that might affect that.

This strategy may have made sense in 20th century and even up to the early to mid-2000’s. The goals were entirely different for each team – why would a radio segment impact the data being gathered on a recent paid search campaign on Google Ads? Nowadays, however, in a world where customers are bouncing from one mobile phone, to TV, to desktop, to radio…the hyper-connected nature of modern day consumers and their buying habits leaves PR agencies impacting marketing numbers and marketing data impacting PR communications. Digital marketing and PR have never been so closely knit.

Setting your public relations agency up in a way where PR efforts can be measured alongside the efforts of marketing is a top priority for many businesses and both fields are starting to work more closely together than ever before.

The Data Doesn’t Lie

A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center focused on how people used social media and how it, along with the communications they had with friends and family, impacted their buying habits. A few of the most interesting points:

  1. 79% of all adult Americans use Facebook
  2. 76% of those visit the site daily

Similarly, another interesting study done by Nielsen states that:

  1. “92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising”

The fact is that the modern day consumer landscape is entirely different than when digital marketing and pr teams worked entirely separate from each other. Fortunately, there’s still time to remove the silos that prevent teams from communicating effectively with each other and complimenting it as well.

Joining the Teams

How do you get these teams to start working effectively alongside and with each other? The first is acknowledging that one team’s work will impact another and that age-old barriers meant to separate these teams need to be removed.

Speaking from my experience consulting and working with PR agencies on marketing and analytics, this means a kickoff call at the start of things and weekly or bi-weekly check-ins to share data and insights. Maybe I’m running a paid social campaign for them and have noticed a large uptick in a specific geographic region sharing posts or have seen a large increase in referral traffic from lesser known news outlets regarding a developing story. Maybe the PR agency is anticipating a decrease in online sentiment for their client due to some recent product updates and wants to get in front of it with targeted ads to set the record straight. Sharing information like that with each other has helped us both be proactive instead of reactive in our own areas of expertise and have helped our digital marketing and pr efforts grow and improve.

For public relations firms looking to increase their online visibility through digital marketing best practices, there are many things you can start implementing today. Some that come to mind:

  1. Implement proper URL tracking – Are you sending out a link to your client’s website to various publications as part of a new story or campaign? Make sure you’re adding the necessary UTM parameters so you can accurately filter and measure impact in Google Analytics.
  2. Ensure you’re using keywords that have relevant search volume – Make sure your websites and articles are getting in front of the right people by showing up for the search terms that people are actually searching for. Don’t expect to show up for a specific search term if you fail to mention it on the site. This means not only including it in the page content, but in H1 and H2 headings, title tags, and even as backlink text from off-site links.
  3. Reinforcing your PR message in paid advertising channels – For those that want to give paid campaigns a shot, I’ve found it to be the best tool to help past public relations agencies that I’ve worked with to reinforce their message. Be sure that before you even spend a cent that your tracking and Facebook Pixel is working as it should. Additionally, ensure you have a Facebook retargeting audience created so you can easily get back in front of people that have previously engaged with your client’s site through your ads. Next, start small. Test ads or promoted posts in specific geographic regions or among a small sub-set of interests to start. Don’t start tossing money at something unless you know it’s working for your defined goals.

What’s Next in Digital Marketing & PR

It’s one thing to continue doing things the same way we’ve always done them and it’s another to accept that business, like many other things in life, are constantly changing and evolving. By breaking down the barriers that prevent cross-functional teamwork among digital marketing and PR and incorporating processes from the other team, we can emphasize and boost the messages that both teams are trying to tell.

The answer to a public relations question very well might exist in the data us marketers have in Analytics. The answer to a marketing question that I have might exist in past engagement with consumers or in sentiment analyses. By working together, digital marketing and PR can help the other succeed.