How Public Relations Optimizes a Digital Marketing Program

Patrick Brightman - 06/24/2019

A public relations program that emphasizes Domain Authority, backlinks and securing placements on high-value websites is a valuable element of any digital marketing program.

The odds are pretty good that as a marketing professional, you’ve heard the word “digital” more times than you can count. It’s become ingrained in virtually everything we do – and with good reason. Brands need to reach people where they are, and everyone (okay nearly all of us) spends time online. A lot of it. A report found that American consumers average 6 hours and 31 minutes each day on the Internet. That’s why the most effective marketing programs have a keen focus on how to best navigate the digital roadway.

Public relations (PR) has adapted to meet the digital trends. Similar to traditional campaigns, digital PR programs aim to secure earned media placements that come with the invaluable third-party endorsement. Each also requires similar skillsets – the ability to craft key messages and stories, forge relationships via honed media relations, and a dogged persistence to keep carrying on until every possible placement is a reality.

There are some distinct differences, though, and that is where we will be spending most of our time with this post. Whereas, traditional PR emphasizes print and broadcast outlets, along with their corresponding online properties, the digital side prioritizes online media, key blogs, and influencers. With digital PR, an outlet’s domain authority (DA), with its associated search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, is as important as the outlet’s monthly visitors and audience.

PR’s Place in Digital 

Of course, digital marketing is more than public relations and earned media. It’s also paid elements (PPC, retargeting, etc.) and making sure your owned properties (brand websites and social media) has content that conveys the proper image and messaging. Digital-focused PR campaigns can serve as a key support element to each of those efforts, as well as email campaigns and other pr attracts a crowd

An effective PR program in today’s marketing mix can help drive traffic to a brand’s website, generate coverage that can be leveraged on social media and in emails, complement and reduce the reliance on advertising, and help improve organic search results. PR with a digital focus can also start and continue conversations with target audiences, and spread news and information faster than ever before.

SEO Value

If I had a dollar for every time a client and/or prospect said they wanted to be on page one of organic search results, I wouldn’t have to worry about my children’s college tuition. Alas, that is not the case. While many factors contribute to achieving that long-sought after goal of sitting atop search engine results pages (SERPs), PR does have a role in SEO. Let’s discuss how.

The objective of a digital PR campaign is to generate placements with backlinks on third-party websites from media outlets, bloggers, or partners. Backlinks are important for SEO because search engine crawlers use them to discover new web pages and to help determine how to rank a page in organic results. The number of websites with links pointing to your pages and the quality of those third-party websites play major roles in your pages’ organic rankings.

Why? Well, the reason is that search engines view pages with a lot of backlinks from high DA websites as being more important and valuable for that topic and associated keywords. That’s where a savvy PR pro comes in handy, as he/she has the media relations skills to generate consistently strong editorial coverage with links back to brand-owned pages. It’s a critical element to any link building strategy.

Power of Domain Authority

Not all websites are created equal when it comes to SEO, though, thanks to many factors. One measure to determine the value of an online placement is to use DA. Every website has a score between 1-100 based on criteria such as linking root domains and number of total links. That number is its DA. While Google publicly says it doesn’t specifically use DA as a metric in rankings, it does strive to rank results based upon relevancy. Using this logic, do you think content on a website with a DA of 90 is going to be more relevant than one on a less-reputed site with a 50 DA?


DA is also an effective means to determine “ranking strength” since Google is so secretive about its search algorithms. That’s why today’s PR pros will place an emphasis on outlets with high DA as part of their evaluation and media pitching. When this is combined with optimized content on owned properties, your organic rankings on keywords and terms will improve, thereby driving more qualified traffic to your website.

Here is a simple measure to prioritize editorial coverage in today’s digital age:

  • Good – Your brand is briefly mentioned on a credible third-party site
  • Better – The aforementioned placement has a simple backlink to your website
  • Best – A placement with a backlink featuring anchor text, which is a more descriptive phrase for the hyperlink. As an example, a backlink such as “learn about digital PR tips” is better than “click here” or “com”

Traffic Driver

The key to a great PR placement in today’s world is to make sure that the people who see it take the appropriate action. Typically, that means having them click on a link that drives them to a brand-owned property. It should be a dedicated page that correlates with the media coverage (i.e. blog and/or video on the subject, landing page) rather than a homepage or social media.

Insert the appropriate SEO backlinks into your press releases so people are taken to the appropriate pages. To that end, it’s no longer enough to pitch an editor with the idea for a client. You need to position it so that it is received and aligns with your owned properties’ content.

Looking to optimize your digital strategy with a public relations program that has a focus on securing placements with designated backlinks on websites with a high DA? Email me or download our Digital PR e-guide.



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