Why yesterday’s PR skills don’t hack it in a Digital PR world
By Mike Davies
To work in Digital PR, you need to be able to write the occasional interesting story, make some decent journalist contacts, handle your drink during some midweek boozy lunches and be able to blag the benefits of advertising value equivalent.
If that sounds a bit like Absolutely Fabulous it’s probably because that description of what PR professionals do belongs in fiction rather than reality.
But even within the real world, the skills needed to work in Digital PR have evolved rapidly and now extend way beyond communication and writing.
Perhaps the biggest change has been the need to understand website and data analytics tools as part of reporting on your activity.
It is no longer enough to rely on coverage books to demonstrate success.
Digital PR professionals now need a much broader knowledge of marketing principles like lead generation and funnel metrics and understanding how to convert an audience into leads, prospects and customers.
To demonstrate the importance of understanding how to develop or protect reputations online and through digital tools the most recent PRCA Digital PR and Communications report found that 51% of clients expect agencies to be able manage online reputation.
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 really that’s just lazy.
An understanding of the importance of keywords and working knowledge of SEO best practice is also extremely beneficial to Digital PR professionals today as it can help them understand how their work is impacting website performance.
And today, as PR moves more towards digital, and SEO, Paid media and PPC plays a more important role, an understanding of Ads can prove useful to today’s Digital PR pros.
What is clear is that the barriers between PR, marketing and SEO have been well and truly torn down in the modern media era.
To survive today, Digital PRs must retain their more traditional story-telling and relationship building skills but must also become ever more comfortable with new technology if they are to prove their worth in the boardroom.