Our MD of PR, Katy Bloomfield, recently took part in a panel discussion centred on strengthening reputation and building trust in 2024 using digital PR. Here, some of the highlights of the conversation.

What are the most common issues you see brands running into online when it comes to their reputation?

“The mains ones are inconsistent messaging and a lack of brand alignment across different channels. Channels are often treated in silos, which can lead to your brand not being positioned correctly. It’s important that you respect the norms of each channel – and tailor accordingly – but your digital PR strategy should be aligned to your overarching marketing plan and messaging.

“Another issue is making sure your digital PR is still PR. A general litmus test is, if you have control over an opportunity – for example you are guaranteed coverage on a certain day and time – you have an element of control, and so really – the opportunity is paid (not earned) media. If you want to benefit from links generated, you can’t pay for them, because the results generated this way are generally low quality anyway and do little to build reputation.

“And finally, brands often miss out on good opportunities through small technicalities, such as:

  • If your brand has a knowledge panel (the info box that appears on Google search), are you keeping it updated?
  • Have you answered the ‘people also ask’ question that Google shows as associated with your brand?
  • Have you responded to both positive AND negative reviews on your Google business-profile listing?
  • And have you checked what images are returned when you Google your brand name? And what do the autocomplete results generate?

“You’d be surprised at the impact you can have just by addressing these kinds of questions.”

How can a business prioritise what they want to achieve with digital PR – and how does this impact their approach?

“Start with your EEAT – experience, expertise, authority and trust. Which of these areas is your brand strongest in, and where is it weakest?

“Then, focus on how you build up those weaker areas while playing to the parts you’re strongest in. For example, if you’ve already had lots of positive PR coverage, it’s likely you’ll have strong trust signals in place. Building up your SEO strategy will then help you get maximum views on the coverage and improve your ranking.

“Really, a good digital PR result is anything that boosts a brand’s social media or organic search profiles, or any positive online media coverage. Split your results by channel (e.g. social media, influencer, SEO and online coverage) and categorise by outputs and outcomes. As an example:

  • Have you secured coverage in tier one online media targets? (output)
  • Have you seen an increase in referral traffic from online article placement? (outcome)

“And remember, prioritise your outcomes. Because it’s your outcomes that will improve your bottom line.”

What are some of the most common mistakes you see brands making when it comes to their reputation?

“Firstly, outreach of any kind – be it via PR or SEO teams – needs to follow media relations best practice. It’s either a story or it isn’t.

“Secondly, it’s vital that PR and SEO teams are tuned into what each other is doing and not operating in silos, otherwise they can cannibalise each other’s results.

“And thirdly, keep a focused audience in mind. Smaller audiences are often more engaged, so building a profile with these communities can have a big impact. For instance, don’t discount LinkedIn newsletters in favour of global top-tier titles – a blend of both is best.”

Which particular elements of an effective digital PR strategy are harder to activate in-house?

“Having the right contacts. PR agencies have established relationships with journalists, media outlets, influencers and thought leaders across various industries. But an in-house team might not have such an extensive network, making it harder to secure media coverage.

“And gaining an honest view on what a good story looks like. Often, news that’s a really big deal internally simply isn’t in the outside world. So it’s important to have an external PR partner who will give you this feedback – rather than getting it from a journalist after an unsuccessful pitch.”

Briefly, where do you see the key gaps for in-house teams when it comes to PR right now?

I think they boil down to three main issues:

“Managing a crisis on all channels. It may sound obvious, but often it can be a case of easier said than done. Having a full crisis plan, prepared in advance, is the best way to avoid confusion and panic when a crisis situation occurs.

“Storytelling –knowing what a really good story looks like, and how to package it up for media.

“And finally, getting the buy in of stakeholders and subject matter experts. Fully engaging them in the process can be challenging – but is of course the best way to ensure the results meet expectations.”

Drop us a line if you’re interested in having chat about our PR, SEO or social media services. 

Written by: Katy Bloomfield, MD of PR at Definition.