The main goal of Public Relations (PR) companies is to exploit the practice of handling the spread of information, as well as manage the communication among individuals, brands or organizations and the public [Grunig, 2013].
PR companies and agencies adopt several processes to enable their customers gaining exposure to their audiences, by using topics of public interest that are promoted through the Web and Social Media [Heath, 2013]. The tactic that is used to increase the brand’s online presence, via establishing relationships with Web content makers, online journalists, and Web experts, is referred to Digital PR.
Digital PR Goals and Tasks
Digital PR, when done properly, enhances brand Reach and online presence, having a positive effect on search engine visibility, via efficient Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. Digital PR efforts should closely follow SEO efforts, as well as the overall digital marketing strategy of a brand to rise Web site traffic and increase the number of marketing leads.
Digital PR experts/managers establish and maintain relationships with their customers’ (brands) target audience, as well as marketing influencers and opinion leaders. Their usual tasks are:
- to design effective online communications campaigns,
- to advertise high-quality content for wide interest news,
- edit Social Media and Web data, towards managing their customers’ public reputation for efficient brands awareness and their maximum-possible Web presence [Dozier, Larissa Grunig & James Grunig, 2013].
Public Relations experts face many challenges and always try to solve specific problems to achieve the above-mentioned goals. Reputation management goal is not always easy to achieve, handling the public identity of the brands.
In addition, relationship management is difficult to be optimized, focusing on the brand’s connections with their customers, as well as task management goals are not always feasible [Smith, 2012], [Austin, Weintraub & Pinkleton, 2015]. In this direction, Digital PR experts try to enhance the brand’s goodwill within their market, towards helping to attract more customers and build long-term loyal relationships among them [Black, 2013].
Getting involved with Social Media activities is a common technique to promote goodwill within a potential target market [Lee, 2015].
Other usual Digital PR campaign targets include the enhancement of the brands and related products or services online awareness. The enhancement of the awareness is a vital process for new brands, which have not yet a strong recognition in their market.
Digital PR campaigns targets may also include the reshaping of the customers’ attitudes about the brand. Brands with negative perceptions in their market often need to exploit PR methods to promote messages of community involvement or product benefits for the common good. In addition, future Digital PR campaigns have also to be based on visual Social Media exploitation and must be supported by innovative sales and marketing strategies [DiStaso, McCorkindale & Wright, 2011].
The Future of Digital PR
The future of Digital PR companies is strongly related with the current and forthcoming Social Media era, towards creating higher quality and more visual content specifically tailored to brands customers’ real-time needs [Solis & Breakenridge].
In addition, today’s Digital PR requirements demand a much deeper understanding of Business Intelligence (BI) analytics, towards enabling PR experts to produce more measurable business results in a clear association with novel marketing and Social Media oriented efforts. The convergence of PR sector with Social Media, Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) creates new opportunities, as well as future challenges for Digital PR experts.
By taking into account this, Digital PR experts have a responsibility to fully understand all media implications and discern the insights that can be exported through the data study. BI analytics will have a vital implication across a brand, empowering to make data-driven decisions before a new Digital PR campaign. In this direction, by adopting the proper technological solutions, the process of data collection and analysis can be optimized. Then, efficiency can be increased, towards making better PR recommendations and having a greater impact of the future Digital PR campaigns.
Brand Monitoring: The ultimate service for Digital PR
Towards addressing the above-mentioned challenges, Digital PR experts usually exploit tools such as Prezly, to publish press releases through the Web and Social Media via a SEO-friendly newsroom, BuzzStream or NinjaOutreach to build relationships and awareness about brands offerings through link building and Social Media, MyMediaRoom, to create, manage, and distribute Digital PR content through an online media room, as well as other online tools specifically targeted for PR services.
However, in my opinion, the ultimate service for Digital PR companies is Brand Monitoring, as well as tracking of the Social Media and the Web campaigns. Social Media efforts are worthless if a solid Brand Monitoring strategy is not adopted.
Brand’s online presence is vital to be monitored, making sure that all mentions are appropriately dealt with. Failing to do so may result in excessive negative publicity, as well as other damaging consequences of the brand. This is a tragic consequence, given that the company could have prevented this if it could intervene on time.
Digital PR experts very often face such challenges of dealing with positive or negative publicity of their customers. Brands that ignore negative mentions may face serious problems with their public presence and reputation, especially if a particularly negative comment goes viral through Social Media. Such negative issues can be avoided, by exploiting Brand Monitoring and promptly responding to turn negative comments into positive publicity.
In addition, when Digital PR experts plan their campaigns, they require access to market research or competitors’ analysis data, as well as analyze the sentiment of their customers’ audience, in respect to the brand public presence. Brand Monitoring provides such data, as well as related insights regarding the target audience preferences and Social Media habits.
Brand Monitoring can be efficiently provided through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), by exploiting several high-quality online tools, like Mentionlytics, Brandwatch and Mention. Such tools enable Digital PR experts to improve the online reputation of their customers and subsequently help, towards generating more marketing leads.
This is feasible by monitoring Social Media channels, websites, message boards and forums, to enhance sales opportunities and identify the locations or new markets, in which brands products or services are most often talked about.
Brand Monitoring can also yield important brand competitive intelligence. The Digital PR experts can monitor Social Media and Web for data patterns, distributing the market intelligence to marketing, sales and other related departments of the brand.
By taking into account all the above-mentioned reasons, Brand Monitoring is considered as the ultimate service for Digital PR companies, towards increasing their market basis, enhancing further their business development and providing optimal services to their customers, in respect to their online reputation.
 Grunig, James E. Excellence in public relations and communication management. Routledge, 2013.
 Heath, Robert L., ed. Encyclopedia of public relations. Sage Publications, 2013.
 Dozier, David M., Larissa A. Grunig, and James E. Grunig. Manager’s guide to excellence in public relations and communication management. Routledge, 2013.
 Smith, Ronald D. Strategic planning for public relations. Routledge, 2012.
 Austin, Erica Weintraub, and Bruce E. Pinkleton. Strategic Public Relations Management: Planning and Managing Effective Communication Campaigns. Vol. 10. Routledge, 2015.
 Black, Sam. Practice of Public Relations. Routledge, 2013.
 Lee, Nicole, et al. “The role of new public relations practitioners as social media experts.” Public Relations Review 41.3 (2015): 411-413.
 DiStaso, Marcia W., Tina McCorkindale, and Donald K. Wright. “How public relations executives perceive and measure the impact of social media in their organizations.” Public Relations Review 37.3 (2011): 325-328.
 Solis, Brian, and Deirdre K. Breakenridge. Putting the public back in public relations: How social media is reinventing the aging business of PR. FT Press.