What is PR online? PR, is how organisations or clients communicate with both their target audience and the wider public. Of course, this has changed greatly over the past few decades.

PR is responsible for managing and influencing the spread of information – which is more important than ever in our ever-evolving Digital Age – and engaging old and new audience members.

It’s all about storytelling. Public Relations promotes and protects the positive image of an organisation or client, maintains their reputation, and ensures a mutually beneficial relationship between the organisation or client and the public.

It is an active practice of constant valued and trusted engagement.

What is PR?

Most people have a general idea of what Public Relations is. It’s the business of persuasion, maintaining positive images of an organisation or client, and managing bad press. But what are the formal definitions?

Online PR featured image

Essentially, PR is how you influence public opinion on your brand. This means building a set of associations with your brand in the heads of customers and other members of the public. Often this means trying to avoid reputational damage when things go wrong.

However, Public Relations isn’t just about managing the rare bad news. It’s also about creating and enhancing the favourable aspects of an organisation or client. In this way, your PR is highly tied to your brand and online reputation.

The World of Online PR

PR online is quite different from traditional PR strategies. By meshing physical-world tactics with social media, search and mobile marketing efforts, a business can ensure a cohesive approach to the world’s biggest audiences.

Online PR serves to bypass typical media, connecting online users directly with their favorite companies.

Today’s news spreads fast. Digital news, in particular, spreads incredibly fast. To target quality audiences, companies are encompassing promotions in newsworthy content.

News lets business marketers maximize their efforts, strategize their product placements and create environments of shared material. Social media, review websites, blogs and content are here, and businesses are using them to create dialogue.

Of course, this also lessens the barriers to having a great PR strategy. In the past, you’d have needed a massive PR budget, and an extensive contact list. Nowadays, you can achieve more than ever without much more than a decent Twitter audience.

Online PR and Internet Marketing

Online PR and internet marketing are similar, but they still differ in key ways.

First and foremost, online PR serves to promote a business’s specific cause. It isn’t designed to be immediately promotional, as an Internet marketing message is. Online PR messages explain why a company cares. They explain why your business does what it does.

Internet marketing messages, too, are important. They just aren’t about a brand’s image, alone. Internet marketing messages are designed to promote sales, increase revenue and promote bulk buys.

Because Internet marketing campaigns are purchase-driven, they’re notorious for their customer-grabbing ability. For this reason, a lot of companies use both online PR and Internet marketing tactics. They go hand in hand, and their synergy is incredibly powerful.

Online PR vs marketing infographic
While there are similarities between online PR and marketing, they are two distinct fields. Image credit: Adonimedia

Online PR Targeting

The differences between online PR and Internet marketing aren’t surface-level, at all. Internet marketing campaigns focus on “target markets.” Target markets are groups your company focuses on.

These groups, likely, are your brand’s biggest fans—and they’re the most likely to buy your products and services. Essentially, they’re the people a company wants to sell to. They’re targeted by monetized websites, content strategies, and advertisements.

Online PR has “target audiences,” too. That said, these target audiences aren’t necessarily a company’s biggest buyers. Rather, they’re public influencers, stakeholders and social hubs. Online PR serves to influence any group which can influence the company as a whole.

These target audiences often include the following:

  • Stakeholders,
  • The press,
  • Employees,
  • Social media influencers,
  • Entrepreneurs,
  • Partnership opportunities,
  • Other brands in your niche.

Of course, it’s also great if your potential customers see your PR efforts. More often than not though, this happens indirectly. Your goal is for potential customers to hear about your brand through the voices listed above, rather than through your marketing campaigns.

PR Agencies in the Digital World

PR agencies have adapted to the world of instant Internet access, too.

Unlike advertising agencies, PR companies focus on editorial coverage to promote a business. It isn’t rare to see a PR agency which focuses on digital magazines, websites, Facebook news, and even television spots.

Paid media might’ve slowed, but it’s far from obsolete. In fact, today’s PR agencies are experiencing massive success due to the increasing focus on client promotion. To make a company successful, a PR agency promotes its values, exciting stories and opinions.

In many cases, creating awareness, alone, is enough to create an environment conducive to success.

Some online PR agencies focus solely on getting backlinks for your website, to boost its referral traffic and domain authority.

Data-Driven Online PR

Online PR agencies also specialize in leveraging online data. In the past, in-house PR teams analyzed public opinion, selected trends and rolled out continual strategies. Because the world of information is huge, it requires a highly intuitive force to comprehend it.

Modern PR agencies focus on the following to benefit a business’s online PR strategy:

  • Data research,
  • Data evaluation,
  • Action program creation,
  • Ongoing communication.

In any event, the ability to understand different data sets is important. Data analytics, today, drives a majority of PR decisions. Fundraising, marketing, community action, employee engagement, and even government relations are, too.

Online PR as a Business Influencer

Sure, online marketing might impact sales more than online PR, but PR online excels in influencing a company’s direction. At all levels, a business with a high regard for policy decisions, communication and courses of action is going in the right direction.

It’s important to take your public ramifications into account. It’s even more important to understand your organization’s citizenship and social responsibilities.

At the ground level, a sound PR strategy implements a business’s ability to influence the public’s opinion. To do so, its PR planning needs to account for the following:

  • Budgeting,
  • Setting objectives,
  • Staff recruitment,
  • Facility development.

PR isn’t only about the public, these days. In fact, businesses expect PR to influence in-house management options, growth opportunities and even financial obligations. We live in a highly social world—which is packed with social media information.

Online PR stats
PR efforts are highly credible for audiences. Image credit: 99 Firms

What Goes into an Online PR Strategy?

Because PR influences a business at the base level, it’s important to make sure any online components are up to scratch. Businesses have a lot of tools at their disposal. In the past, PR decision makers could simply write, distribute and share press release ideas.

While these practices still happen, a variety of online-specific practices have emerged.

Here are the key components of any strong online PR strategy.

Social Media Promotions

The Internet is big, and it’s jam-packed with reviews. Social media promotions are important, as they’re responsible for creating a brand’s online persona. Here, online marketing research is crucial.

While online marketing and online PR are inherently different, social media is a platform upon which they merge. Additionally, social media is a powerful platform used to dispel negative public opinions.

A good PR agency will be able to “translate” various opinions, helping business operators determine which feedback is useful. Online PR also means responding to negative feedback, and turning bad experiences into good ones.

Online Content

Successful online PR also lends itself to successful online publicists. While pure content marketing falls into the world of online marketing, partnerships with big-name Internet influencers are certainly worthwhile.

As online PR opportunities grow, online marketing becomes increasingly more important.

A lot of weight is being placed on Google analytics, Facebook visibility and mobile accessibility. In all likelihood, we can expect the lines between online PR and marketing to blur further. For now, however, distinctions still exist—and they’re important to pin down.

Online PR content marketing
Content marketing is crucial for online PR. Image credit: Semrush

How to improve your Online PR

Public Relations has changed drastically since its creation. Bearing this in mind, here are three steps to help you improve your Public Relations in the Digital Age:

  1. Identify your audience and where they are online: determine your audience in terms of age, location and gender. Are they professionals or amateurs? In search of business or pleasure? Are they mostly on Facebook or LinkedIn? Twitter or Instagram? YouTube or Steam?
  2. Identity what content appeals to them and align your values and attitudes with theirs. Be tech-savvy and trend-focused. Are you a cruelty-free make-up manufacturer? Reach out to and send samples to Beauty Bloggers such as Kristen Leanne on YouTube or Suzi Grapefruit on Instagram, who have built their public image on consuming and promoting cruelty-free products.
  3. Cut through the clutter. Pitch emails should be clear, compelling, and considerate, and avoid generic headers that will get lost in a potential audience members’ inbox. It should explain who you are, what you’re sending, and why it matters.

ProfileTree is a content marketing agency based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. To find out more about PR and how it can transform your business, get in touch with our expert team or subscribe to our blog for more insights.

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