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Digital PR on the rise: Takeaways from PRCA's Digital PR report

By Mike Davies

Companies are spending more on Digital PR and social media than last year, with budgets set to increase in these areas again in the next 12 months.

That is the main takeaway from this year's PRCA Digital PR and Communications Report.

The annual report was launched yesterday at an event in London and for Digital PR nerds like us it provided a great idea what clients are now expecting from us as digital professionals.

Video and social media a priority

Yet again budgets for video content are on the rise (58% said this is where brands were spending their money) with paid social budgets also getting priority (58% also said this).

Is that a surprise, no. Video has been "the next big thing for years" and we know that at least some publications are now prioritising stories that come with videos. One, it's more engaging than another press release, and two, they have the option of placing ads on the videos, which raise revenue.

With budgets thin in journalism today, we need to get used to being more creative to get journalists attention and video is at least one way of doing that.

It's also no surprise that paid social is a priority for spend - although budgets for PPC are falling according to the report.

Not only does paid social give you the option of targeting your audience down to a specific niche (rather than blasting organic posts out all over the place) but many social platforms are becoming more "pay to play".

Digital PR is also continuing to play catch-up on taking back control of social media after seemingly missing the boat years ago that social is an ideal platform for PR people.

These platforms need to be filled with interesting stories and content to be popular. PR professionals are experts (or they should be) at telling stories. No - we don't know how some missed that fact either.

Digital PR taking on wider digital & content strategies

What we found pretty interesting is that nearly two thirds of brands are now assigning their digital strategy and content development to Digital PR agencies (that's up 4% on last year).

Again, PR agencies tell stories for a living and the wider content marketing play is built on the idea of telling stories and giving prospects, customers and an audience interesting and useful information - so it fits that Digital PR is trusted with creating digital content for multiple channels.

We just need more of them to create interesting content.

Digital PR measurement still a work in progress

Finally, it wouldn't be a discussion about digital PR without a mention of Digital PR measurement, would it.

It was interesting to be in a room of people who agreed with us that "reach" and "audience figures" are not reliable measurements for PR.

This is something we bang on about a lot, because tools like Google Analytics, Moz, BrightEdge and other SEO platforms provide actual insight into how Digital PR is having an impact.

At least there's some relief to be had that people in the PR industry are at least aware that we need to do better proving the value of what we do.