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Why yesterday’s PR skills don’t hack it in a Digital PR world

By David Beesley

To work in Digital PR, you need to be able to write interesting stories, make strong journalist contacts, be able to handle your drink during midweek lunches and be able to convince doubters to the benefits of advertising value equivalent.

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If that sounds a bit Absolutely Fabulous it’s probably because it is. It's a description of what fictional PR professionals do, rather than those of us operating in the real world.

Working in the real world requires being able to develop Digital PR skills that extend beyond strong communication and good writing.

Perhaps the biggest change in B2B PR has been the need to understand how a client's website operates and what data analytics tools are being used as part of the reporting function on your activity.

The days of relying on coverage books to demonstrate success are long gone.

As digital PR professionals, we need a much broader knowledge of how PR fits with wider sales and marketing principles like lead generation, funnel metrics and understanding how to convert an audience into leads, prospects and customers.

In Muck Rack's State of PR 2021 report, it showed that alarmingly almost a third of PR professionals (32%) admitted they never use web analytics and less than a quarter use it on a weekly (24%) or daily (22%) basis.

How can digital PR professionals expect to be taken seriously if we do not get to grips with basic measurement techniques. 


Developing the tech skills for Digital PR

At the very least a modern digital PR practitioner should feel comfortable moving around a Google Analytics dashboard to understand web traffic increases and sources of traffic – particularly when it comes to traffic from links earned through PR activity.

Sure, you could ask an analyst to do it for you, but how is that increasing your own knowledge and understanding? 

Understanding SEO tactics of the importance of targeting chosen keywords in your website copy is also extremely beneficial to digital PR professionals as it can help us understand how our work is impacting a client's website performance.

What is clear is that the barriers between PR, marketing and SEO and paid advertising have been well and truly torn down in the modern media era.

To survive today, as digital PR professionals we must retain our traditional story-telling and relationship building skills, but also become ever more comfortable with new technology if we are to ever prove our worth in the boardroom.

How to write for the media

Tags: Digital PR