Adapting Strategies in Digital PR: 2024 and Beyond
2023 for digital PR has seen a lot of change. There has been a lot of discourse around the demand, methods and tactics that are being used in the industry. This has meant digital PR practices have been under a magnifying glass. Campaigns and the ethics of digital PR have been critiqued (albeit healthy when done in the right way) and digital PR professionals are feeling the need more than ever to highlight best practice, authenticity, and credibility.
We’ve seen a lot of debate around the relevancy of campaigns, ‘spammy’ link building tactics and even the age-old conversation of guaranteed coverage. There is a lot to be dissected from the past year, and I’m sure you’ve read opinion piece after opinion piece sharing thoughts on where digital PR should fit within your digital marketing strategy.
Ultimately, the point we can’t escape from is that links are a key ranking factor and as John Mueller has said in the past “it can be just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in some cases”. With this in mind, digital PR shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have’ or an ‘add on’ to an existing SEO strategy, it should be weaved into your existing approach and the two should work together to achieve greater online visibility. Off-page SEO should be just as much of a priority as on-page and technical, and we have a lot of evidence-based case studies highlighting how an organic strategy with a digital PR search first offering has seen amazing results for clients.
We have also seen a lot of change this year in how digital PR looks too. We are seeing fewer full-page interactives, indexes; even maps, and in their place we are seeing reactive strategies, expert comments and smaller-scale campaigns. This has been a gradual change but one that can partly be attributed to algorithm updates. Google’s algorithm updates this year have seen the biggest impact on the quality of links being built and are going to be the biggest influence on tactics and strategies for 2024.
While 2023 has been turbulent for digital PR, we can use these valuable conversations and debates to understand what to look out for in 2024. The key will be to remain credible and produce trusted digital PR strategies. Here’s where we expect to see the biggest changes:
Traditional PR and digital PR hybrid model
Brand mentions, as we know, don’t hold the same value as a follow link but they are certainly not useless. Depending on the overall goals that you’re working towards, they can be essential to a strong digital PR strategy. Brand awareness and exposure can often be seen as a by-product of link building and while we seek out converting coverage through link reclamation there is a lot to be said for mentions contributing to wider goals. Through recent changes where digital PR teams are using expert commentary and reactive strategies, the line between traditional and digital PR is more blurred than ever. It’s important to keep in mind that ‘implied links’ can still help to build your brand and the goal is to achieve a natural backlink profile as well as exposure.
AI is expected to be one of the biggest changes in 2024. Using AI in the PR industry brings lots of opportunities, the obvious being content creation but there is scope for AI to bring autonomy to digital PR professionals. Whether this is data research, gathering insight, inspiration for ideas or even outreach targeting. With new technology, there is always training needed and ensuring teams are using the tools as a guide rather than a quick win is essential.
Authenticity and expertise
With the introduction of AI in the PR industry as mentioned above, we are expecting to see lots of AI-generated content, however, with that there are risks. E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority and trust) should be at the heart of a digital PR strategy and positioning your brand as an authority within your industry. Expert comments and providing fresh insight and opinions on trending topics is a sure way to achieve this. While AI can produce comments they lack substance and, of course, expertise. Thought leadership predictions are set to rise in 2024 as Google leans on trustworthy sources, so, putting more of a focus on brand trust is pivotal.
Relevancy, relevancy, relevancy
Really, this point summarises the points made above and highlights the need for quality link building that achieves high authority, relevant links from specific niches and appropriate anchor text. Creating digital PR campaigns with credible and concrete data that answers questions that are in demand is the starting point – think about what your target demographic is asking about, and consider where they are looking for answers. This thinking will assist in finding the right strategy that suits you and your business needs. For example, if you’re an e-commerce brand launching a product that is new to the market then it’s clear you need reviews and real life feedback from consumers and a product PR strategy would best suit this. This strategic thinking then feeds into building media lists and writing press releases – keep the targets in mind throughout the process and don’t fall into the trap of a ‘link is a link’.
In summary, there is expected to be even more change in the world of digital PR in 2024, but taking the learnings from 2023 will ensure that the campaigns and results achieved by the team here at Distinctly will be better than ever. We strive for excellence in the work that we create and with this insight, we are ready to take on 2024. Watch this space!