What is Digital PR? (& How It Can Help You Grow)

Farzad Rashidi
19 minute read

What is digital PR? 

This is a question many business owners have. 

Digital PR can help you improve your rankings, increase your online visibility and grow as a business. 

The best part? 

You can do it yourself, without having to hire a PR agency. 

Here are some of the things we’ll cover in this guide: 

  • What digital PR is 
  • What the difference is between digital and traditional PR 
  • Why digital PR is among the best ways of raising brand awareness for any business
  • How you can come up with a solid digital PR strategy for your business 

Let’s get started. 

What is Digital PR?

Most people know PR stands for public relations—the act of deliberately pushing out information about your business or organization to the public. 

Digital PR falls into that same practice but instead of traditional methods of sharing your information, digital PR focuses on your digital marketing strategies. 

In a nutshell, digital PR helps you reach your target audience across several different platforms and build relationships with people and companies in your industry.   

It can mean featuring your business on popular websites, podcasts and social media accounts with which these people and companies regularly interact.

For example, in 2019, Tim Soulo, Chief Marketing Officer at Ahrefs, did 20+ podcast interviews in less than four months. 

Screenshot of article title by Tim Soulo using podcasts for digital pr
Image Source: Medium

Of course, not all emails went well for Tim, since some of the responses he got weren’t as positive as he might have expected. 

Negative email response to Tim Soulo's outreach email
Image Source: Medium

However, the fact that Tim reached out to those people 1-to-1 with an interesting pitch shows us two things:

  1. Connecting with influential people in your industry matters.
  2. Digital PR is hard and takes time, even if you’re experienced in this field. 

Simply put, forming relationships with other people isn’t easy. 

Moreover, the fact that we’re oversaturated with messages and pitches of all kinds nowadays makes it even harder. 

So, if Tim, a CMO of a million dollar company (Ahrefs) got some resistance in his digital PR campaign—that had as a goal to get him as a guest on as many podcasts as possible—then you can imagine just how difficult it must be for you and me to do the same thing. 

However, there are many people who really nail it when it comes to digital PR and forming relationships with other (usually influential) people online. 

Just a few weeks ago, we had one of Respona’s users get a mention and link from TechCrunch. 

Screenshot of Ahrefs analytics for TechCrunch
Image Source: Ahrefs UI

As you can imagine, getting a brand mention on a website with 9.3M organic visitors on a monthly basis—according to Ahrefs—isn’t something that comes easy. 

This means that digital PR works, but only if you do it right. 

So, we could say that digital PR is a way to…

  • Raise awareness for your business,
  • Build relationships with thought experts and influencers,
  • Get brand mentions and links from high-authority websites,
  • Get featured on podcasts and shows with an audience relevant to yours. 

Of course, digital PR has other, indirect benefits as well that we’ll cover later on in this guide. 

Before diving into the benefits that it can have for your business though, let’s discuss the difference between digital and traditional PR. 

Digital PR vs Traditional PR

There are many similarities between the two terms because digital PR is an evolved form of traditional PR. 

How did it all start? 

Let me take you back to the 1920s, when a young man initiated what people would later call “public relations”.

Edward Bernays is one of the most influential names in the PR industry. 

He gained special attention for his early efforts to define and theorize the field of public relations and was even called “the father of PR” in his obituary. 

(He was also Sigmund Freud’s nephew, which played a role in his understanding of human psychology.) 

Some of his most notable PR campaigns were “Torches of Freedom”, which promoted female smoking, and his work with The United Fruit Company, which was connected to the overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan government (orchestrated by the CIA)

Through these historic campaigns, Bernays was able to influence millions of people across several different countries and establish the foundation of public relations.

Traditional PR revolves around the relationships between publicists and journalists. 

When traditional PR strategies first came around, publicists would have to put in a lot of work to network with journalists over the phone or through business dinners. 

They put forth this effort in the hopes of getting their clients featured in newspapers or print publications.

As the readership of traditional print products like newspapers declined and became less impactful, this increased the influence that online publications had. 

With the rise of the internet, Bernay’s work and legacy moved from traditional PR roles into the digital era, and his mark on PR has been solidified by the generations of public relations practitioners that came after him.

This is why, according to Google Trends, the interest for digital PR has been growing steadily since 2004. 

Keyword search trend for "digital pr" in Google Trends
Image Source: Google Trends

With this digital transformation, digital PR now focuses on online publications and improving your brand’s awareness within digital content rather than print products. 

While traditional PR focuses on things like getting a person/product featured on a TV show for a few seconds or even minutes, digital PR focuses on getting a person or company featured in an article, podcast, digital summit or similar. 

Thus, as you can see, the medium has changed but the purpose behind those actions remain the same. 

It can be highly beneficial to get featured in a major publications like TechCrunch, as we mentioned earlier. 

TechCrunch's featured blog page
Image Source: TechCrunch

Some of the benefits of large publication media coverage are:

  • Brand visibility and reputation
  • Facilitate user acquisition
  • Gain investor or partner interest
  • Attract more talent

Of course, nowadays, there are digital PR agencies that can help you with all these things. 

However, in most cases, digital PR agencies charge a lot of money, which means you should be learning how to build those relationships and get more exposure for your business by yourself. 

Now that you know the difference between digital and traditional PR, let’s examine even more benefits that come from digital PR. 

What are the Benefits of Digital PR?

There are many ways digital PR can benefit your business. 

One of the most important things to do is set goals for your digital PR campaign so you can analyze its performance later on. 

Let’s break down some of the main benefits of digital PR for your business:

1) Improve your SEO

Search engines like Google place importance on several different areas of your website.

According to this survey by Sparktoro, 1,584 SEO professionals believe these are some of the most heavily-weighted ranking factors in Google’s organic search engine:

  • Relevancy of the overall page content
  • Quality backlinks
  • Use of relevant search keywords
  • Domain authority
  • Mobile optimization

Bar graph depicting the top 26 Google Ranking Factors
Image Source: Sparktoro

So, it is evident that most SEO professionals believe that backlinks matter when it comes to rankings. 

One of the most obvious benefits of digital PR is link acquisition. 

Think about it: 

When you partner up with popular websites or individuals, they will most likely link back to your site. 

This will help you boost your Domain Authority (or Domain Ranking, according to Ahrefs) and get higher rankings. 

Of course, there are many other factors involved—such as having high-quality content on your website—but that applies to almost all cases. 

Building links for your website—as a by-product of building relationships online—will help you improve your search visibility and grow your organic traffic

According to a study on 1 billion web pages by Ahrefs, 90.63% of content online doesn’t get any traffic. 

That’s pretty disappointing, right?

One of the reasons why that happens—according to the study—is because most of the content online doesn’t get any links. 

In fact, Ahrefs found out that 66.31% of all pages online don’t get any links whatsoever. 

Pie chart depicting percentages of pages with referring domains
Image Source: Ahrefs

According to the same study, there is a high correlation between the number of links a page gets and the amount of search traffic it receives. 

Line graph depicting the positive correlation between referring domains and search traffic
Image Source: Ahrefs

This means that as the number of referring domains grows, so does the organic visibility and search traffic that the company’s website receives. 

Even though that’s a correlation study—and, correlation doesn’t prove causation—we can clearly see the positive impact of links on organic traffic. 

Now, let’s consider this:

The total yearly searches on Google has increased every year since it was founded in 1998, and there are over 3.5 billions searches on any given day

Bar graph depicting the number of Google search queries per year
Image Source: internetlivestats.com

This means that Google is growing steadily. 

If your website is one of the first things to show up on the search engine, it can translate to thousands of new people coming to your business. 

Good-quality links and original content creation will increase your search rankings and help you gain more exposure online. 

Note: For even more information on SEO tactics, check out our articles on SEO.

This is of course one of the most important benefits of digital PR for businesses. 

Let’s move on to the next one. 

2) Connect with other bloggers and influencers in your niche

Many of the top bloggers or influencers are well connected to others in their industry. 

Of course, they had to do a lot of hard work to build that network and credibility. 

If you can connect with them and utilize their community, it takes some of the work off your plate. 

Digital PR is all about  building relationships.

Making connections with other bloggers or influencers in your niche allows you to:

  • Form mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Generate more awareness for your own blog. 
  • Establish credibility for your brand and products/services (via a recommendation from an influential blogger in the space). 
  • Grow your audience.
  • Build your brand.

But how do you find these bloggers or influencers?

Respona has the tools to help you find influential authors, personalize the emails you send to them and analyze the pitch quality of those emails.

Through Respona’s content-based campaigns, you can find relevant content in a simple search engine format

You can search for a keyword, topic or domain and then filter your results by market, freshness or source.

Screenshot of Respona's content search filters

Respona even assigns each content piece a score to indicate the quality of the average prospect based on search ranking, number of backlinks and domain authority.

Screenshot of Respona's system for ranking content during the content search step

Tip: Check out our guide on how to get your blog noticed to learn how to approach and connect with other bloggers and influencers in your niche. 

Using a tool like Respona, you can find and connect with popular bloggers and influencers. 

This way, you can get in front of new audiences and raise awareness for your business. 

Let’s move on to the next benefit of digital PR for your business. 

This is not as simple as just asking a company to include your link on a client’s website. 

You have to be able to pitch the value that their audience will gain by incorporating you into their brand. 

This is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to content marketing—that most content pieces pitched have no value whatsoever. 

Let’s take Visme—a free infographic software and presentation maker—as an example.

Visme is a website that gets more than 1.1M organic visits per month according to Ahrefs. 

Screenshot of Ahrefs analytics showing Visme traffic
Image Source: Ahrefs UI

If you check the “Best by links” report on Ahrefs, you’ll notice that some of Visme’s top pages have hundreds of links pointing back to them. 

Screenshot of Ahrefs "best by links" report for Visme
Image Source: Ahrefs UI

One of those pages, “infographic templates”, has links from 39 different domains. 

Visit, and you’ll see that this is a well-designed page that has actual value for the visitor. 

Visme's templates page
Image Source: Visme

So, if hypothetically you were to promote this page, your job would be quite easy because this is a resource that is actually worth linking back to. 

The point I’m trying to make here is that you can’t expect link building to work if you don’t have high-quality content to back it up. 

You have to provide valuable resources and a creative or informative piece of content that provides a legitimate reason for the journalist to link back to it. 

Take into consideration the following when trying to improve your backlink profile:

  • Which page the link goes to on your site. (Ideal places are either landing pages or products/service pages.) 
  • How far down the text your link is mentioned. (How deep in the page.)
  • The text that’s attributed before or after your link. (The anchor text that’s used.)
  • The Domain Authority (DA) of the website that’s linking back to you. 

You can use tools like Ahref’s site explorer to make sure you’re reaching out to valuable sites that will build a quality backlink profile. 

Simply enter the domain of the site you are interested in and you can instantly see Ahref’s rank, the number of backlinks and referring domains, total number of organic keywords, monthly search traffic and the value of that traffic.

Screenshot of Ahrefs analytics for Chron.com
Image Source: Ahrefs UI

Tip: Try to avoid using solely branded anchor texts, as that may raise a red flag in the eyes of Google. 

Of course, the way you’re going to evaluate those opportunities varies based on your goals. 

If, for example, you’re interested solely in increasing your domain authority, then you should go for as many links with high authority as you can. 

On the other hand, if you’re also interested in acquiring traffic from those links, then the traffic that the websites/pages you’re interested in getting a link from will also affect your decision. 

In any case, be very specific as to what you want to achieve, since link building is a benefit with many sub-benefits of its own. 

Let’s continue exploring the benefits of digital PR and see how it can help you raise brand awareness for your product or service.

4) Raise brand awareness for your product/service

Raising brand awareness for your business is not something that will happen overnight. 

There are no quick advertisement  schemes or marketing campaigns that make this happen. 

Instead, it’s something that is built over time and through the relationships you foster.

Drift is a great example of how to showcase and highlight the value of your brand and raise awareness for your product. 

They showcase the product by placing easy-to-digest screenshots on the page with reassuring messages like “Absolutely no coding required!”, emphasizing how this can be completed in seconds.

Drift using digital pr to create awareness through infographics
Image Source: Drift

They also do a great job of highlighting the value of their brand by subtly placing logos of other major companies they’ve worked with below their main call to action.

This doesn’t distract the customer from their journey, but shows they are a reputable brand.

As you can imagine, all this didn’t happen overnight. 

Drift invested heavily into building relationships and getting the message about “conversational marketing” out there. 

How? 

Other than traditional marketing strategies, Drift has also used digital PR as a way to raise awareness about its product and the new wave that they called “conversational marketing”. 

Drift’s Co-founder and CEO is serial entrepreneur David Cancel.

Here’s what I got when I searched for “david cancel + interview” on Google:

SERP for the query "david cancel + interview"

From podcast appearances on Eric Siu’s Growth Everywhere show to TechCrunch features and NY Times interviews, Drift’s CEO promotes the company he has co-founded and tries to raise awareness for Drift. 

As you can imagine, digital PR plays a huge role here. 

People nowadays rely heavily on others’ opinions, which is why these interviews can make it or break it for a company. 

When you get to hear about a product from a podcast or show you like, you’re more likely to be positively biased toward that product. 

Thus, you can now understand why digital PR can also help in building awareness for your product or service.

And, you can do that with Respona. 

First, you need to create a new campaign. 

Creating a campaign in Respona

Then, you need to choose “Content Based” as your campaign type. 

Choosing to create a content-based campaign in Respona

Next, you need to think of an influencer in your niche that podcast hosts invite often as a guest. 

In our example, we’ll assume that you’re into SEO and thus looking for podcasts related to SEO. 

And, for the sake of the example, the SEO professional we’re going to choose is Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko.

So, in Respona’s search engine, you have to insert the following search operator:

Finding content using Respona's content search engine for the query "brian dean + interview"

Note: Make sure to choose “Web Search” as your “Source” and “All Times” for “Freshness”. 

Here’s what we get next:

Respona content search engine results for the query "brian dean + interview"

Even though the second result comes from Backlinko.com, most of the other results recommended by Respona come from actual interviews that Brian Dean has given. 

Those can (potentially) be opportunities for us.

After choosing the ones that we consider to be more relevant and with higher potential, we can choose “Next Step”.  

This is what you’ll see next:

Template options for outreach campaigns in Respona

Even though Respona is offering a variety of ready-to-use templates, for our example, we’re going to create a new message and use it as a template for our digital PR campaign. 

Once we click on “Personal Templates”, we should then click on “Create New”. 

Creating a personal outreach template in Respona

Then, we just need to click on “Create New Step”.

First step in creating a personal template

Here’s what the editor looks like: 

Respona's personal template editor

What’s cool about this editor is the fact that it auto-grades your email pitch based on several grading criteria such as spam, word count and subject length. 

The email pitch we’ll create will be something really simple and to the point. 

First, let’s craft a good subject line.

Creating a subject line for a personal template in Respona

As you can see, our subject line isn’t spammy and describes what’s going to follow after the recipient clicks on our email. 

After all, who wouldn’t want to know a topic they’ve missed to mention on their podcast?

The body text has to be equally good—remember that podcast hosts are people who receive hundreds of emails every week. 

This means that they can spot spam email when they look at one. 

To stand out, you have to be relevant and show relevance right away. 

Here’s how our message will look like:

Hey {first_name}, 

I’ve been listening to your podcast for a while now. (Really enjoyed the interview w/ Brian Dean.)

Even though you’ve covered a lot of topics, from [A] to [B] and [C], you haven’t yet made an episode discussing [D]. 

I’m [Name] and I’m [Position] at [Company]. 

We’re helping companies with [Specialization] for [x] years and thus, I have a couple of things I could say about [D].

To give you an idea what we could talk about:

  • [D1] 
  • [D2]
  • [D3]

If this sounds interesting to you, I’d be more than happy to provide more details and talking points. 

What do you think? Let me know. 

Thanks,

Note: Pieces of text within {} are called variables and can be used to personalize your email pitches.

According to Respona’s editor, this email has high chances of getting a response. 

Response rating tool during template creation

From there, it’s only a matter of assigning the right emails to your contacts (prospects) and managing the conversations. 

Digital PR is a great way to raise awareness for your product/service and getting featured on podcasts is one of the ways you can achieve that. 

Just try to give people reasons why they need to have you as a guest or talk about you in their show. 

5) Increase your domain authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score that Moz uses to predict a website’s ability to rank on search engine results pages. 

The score ranges from 1 to 100, and the higher your score, the better your website will rank. 

Screenshot of Moz's Domain Authority ranking bar

Note: The above screenshot shows MozBar from Moz. Ahrefs has an equivalent to MOZ’s DA called Domain Ranking (DR). 

This score is calculated using multiple factors, such as the number of links pointing to your site and linking root domains.  

(For Ahrefs, DR is calculated solely by the number of links pointing back to a certain domain.)

Building domain authority as a business is about having the right stories told in a clear way, at the perfect time, to the right people. 

This is where digital PR can play a significant role.

If a media outlet mentions your article or links to your website, this link passes on link equity and increases your domain authority.  

As you create valuable content and promote it to your target audience, more people will naturally link back to your site. 

This will increase your overall domain authority and allow you to rank for even more competitive terms. 

This process can happen passively, but in most cases there has to be an active promotion of your resources as well. 

You can acquire high-quality backlinks without actively promoting your content, but to really stand out, you have to employ digital PR and link building tactics. 

When we look further into the analytics, the first five organic results account for 67.6% of all the clicks. Most customers don’t make it to page 2-10. 

Bar graph comparing click through rate to SERP rank
Image Source: Zerolimitweb.com

With more than two-thirds of the clicks going to those top 5 spots, you can see how competitive the SERPs are. 

Increasing your domain authority is one important way of being more competitive yourself, and one of the best ways to achieve this is through digital PR. 

6) Get more referral traffic

As we mentioned earlier, more links to your website can help you increase your authority.

It also increases the likelihood that your domain will rank higher, which gives you more exposure to new customers. 

If the page that links back to you already gets traffic, chances are you’ll get some referral traffic from that website as well. 

Let’s take the following blog post by ryrob.com as an example. 

Ahrefs analytics for ryrob.com
Image Source: Ahrefs UI

This is a post with more than 57K organic visits per month according to Ahrefs. 

If you could get your website featured on that post, chances are you’d get some referral traffic as well. 

Of course, the question is, how can you get featured in that post? 

For that, you would need to have something highly valuable and relevant to pitch and a great and creative way to pitch it. 

The more you can build relationships with different journalists, bloggers and influencers in your niche, the more you increase the chances of getting referral traffic from those websites.

If a press release that you put out gets picked up by several news outlets, your referral traffic will be coming from all over. 

If a popular podcaster mentions your social media handles, depending on their traffic, this could greatly increase who sees your brand. 

If a popular journalist mentions you on a blog post that gets traffic from various sources, then chances are you’re going to get some of that traffic as well. 

According to Podcasts Insights, as of December 2019, there were over 30 million podcast episodes available to stream. 

Most podcasts accept sponsors to advertise to their audience, for a price of course. 

They can give you a backlink, pre-roll or post-roll spot around their regular scheduled programs, and that single link from a podcast episode can drive traffic back to your website. 

Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast landing page
Image Source: Entrepreneurs on Fire

Author’s Tip: If you’re a guest on a podcast, make sure to create a dedicated landing page for the podcast’s listeners. For example, if I was a guest on Entrepreneurs on Fire, I’d create a landing page respona.com/fire with a special offer for the people who listen to the episode. 

All these relationships are built—in most cases—through digital PR. 

So, you have every reason to start using it for your own business. 

7) Grow your online presence

This might be an obvious one, but one of the most beneficial things that can happen as a result of a successful digital PR campaign is seeing your online presence grow as you reach new audiences.

Even if people don’t use your service or product right away, it’s great to maintain your familiarity as a brand and establish trust so that they can consider you in the future. 

Just think about it. 

Someone is reading an article on a popular publication and they see your brand name, just like Respona’s mention on OpenView blog:

Mention of Respona from another blog

Over time, when readers of that blog post need a pr outreach tool for their business, they will remember our tool and be more comfortable because there’s already some familiarity there. 

Once you can get customers to associate you as a brand that informs, educates and adds value, you can start building the relationship by engaging your audience. 

After you’ve engaged with them, reinforce the sense of a one-on-one relationship that gives your organization a human touch to which consumers respond positively. 

So, you now know what digital PR is and what main benefits it can have for your business. 

Let’s close this article with some final thoughts. 

Wrapping Up

Digital PR can help your business grow. 

As you can see, there are many direct and indirect effects when it comes to digital PR. 

It can help you…

  1. Increase your website traffic 
  2. Reach your target customers 
  3. Earn credibility in your niche 
  4. Increase your search engine visibility 
  5. Improve your brand equity
  6. Get more leads to your door 

However, before you start working on a digital PR campaign, it’s important that you clearly define your marketing objectives and set clear goals. 

As mentioned previously, even though there are many trustworthy PR services, most of them cost a lot of money. 

This is why it’s always better to learn how to do it yourself. 

Now I’d like to hear from you: 

Have you ever run a digital PR campaign for your business? If so, what were the results? If not, what’s keeping you from doing it? 

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi is the co-founder of Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity.He runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 4 million users and pass 1.5M monthly organic traffic. Since then, he’s been helping other companies achieve the same success via Respona.

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