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Lisa Elliott

Digital PR – Opportunities & Challenges For Agencies

1 April 2015, Lisa Elliott

Digital PR is one of the biggest growth areas for PR agencies in 2015, but it also represents some significant challenges. By its definition “digital PR” is a broad concept and can literally mean anything. The key is getting to grips with the digital PR brief in front of you early on to work out exactly what your client wants.

digital PRIt could be as simple as generating online coverage on websites that have high visitor numbers to help raise brand awareness for your client, or it could be social media, content marketing, video, PPC, or creating PR campaigns that drive social buzz, awareness and consideration.

The fact the area is so broad can seem somewhat scary, but the area will only grow in importance over the next few years as brands continue to adapt to the new digital world, more newspapers go behind paywalls, – and even the future of newspapers generally could be in question – how many will be here in ten years’ time?

The Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) Digital Committee, of which I am a member, has revealed growing PR agency development and investment in digital PR as part of its annual report.

Here are three of the most important findings from the report:

1. Digital briefs on the rise

More than 3 in 10 (32%) PR agencies are now seeing 20% of their revenues coming from digital / social, whilst 62% of agencies have seen digital budgets rise over the last 12 months, with the same number forecasting similar growth for the next 12 months.

However, what is important to remember here is that digital rarely works on its own; traditional PR should not be thrown out the window – it’s about integration. Broadcast is still the biggest driver of traffic to websites and social, and it’s about creating integrated approaches that really work for clients.

2. Don’t underestimate paid media

Nearly half (47%) of PR agencies revealed that they plan to boost Facebook posts with paid media as a response to changes to the social networking site last year, which have seen the introduction of an algorithm to cut down on cluttered news feeds. Others (42%) suggested they will use other networks more, or change their current strategy (33%).

3. Understand what your client wants and why they want to go digital

The leading motivation for companies to take on social media is for general marketing, brand awareness and reach purposes, at 87%. This is followed by using social media a customer service platform, at 51%.

The key findings illustrate that the digital opportunities in 2015 continue to grow for PR professionals, and agencies are rising to the challenge. However, with trends throughout digital and social PR constantly evolving, agencies will need to continually invest in their teams to ensure they stay ahead of the curve and are able to give their clients the best advice possible.

This post was written by Lisa Elliott, director and partner of PR Agency Lansons.