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When The Drum magazine wanted the industry's thoughts on Digital PR back in 2010 our M.D offered her straight talking take on it all...Looking back 5 years later this still rings true!

From an article featured in The Drum in 2010...we'd say this could have been written yesterday..!

500x500_fitbox-thedrumdigitalpr.jpgDigital PR.....The new kid on the block. The new fangled world of online PR, Web 2.0 PR, Social Media PR...Whatever you want to call it. Why is it that by adding the word ‘digital' to the mix this suddenly appears to be the more glamorous, more desirable, more popular alter-ego of traditional PR - an industry that didn't have a prescriptive word to justify it and has existed just fine on that basis for many decades. 

Digital PR has had an ‘Ab Fab' job done on it. Everyone wants to be able to go around shouting about what they've been up to online, how they're ‘leading the way in digital strategy and engaging with new web 2.0 audiences'. 

PR is PR 
Well. PR is PR. It's about communication, it's about reputation, it's about presenting a client in the best possible light and engaging with their audience. 
‘Digital' PR is no different, it simply provides us with more tools. 
Let's face it, it's been around for some time - certainly in the world of the consumer, but it's exciting now because brands are starting to get in on the game. 

The brands that are using these new tools as part of their fuller marketing mix are the ones that get it - the likes of Coca Cola and its social media campaign for ‘Happiness Ambassadors' and Toyota who put Jim Lentz on YouTube to make a personal apology for their recall nightmare. They understand that these platforms get them closer to their customers - but they're playing by traditional PR rules. They're presenting a certain image with a view to influencing their customers - and they're creating stories that are media fodder as they're still focused on column inches.

These brands are using the online arena to up the anti with their PR. Brands are now at the same party as their customers, having a drink and a chat with them, rather than promoting from a ‘higher ground' - this gives PR a chance to be even more subtle and widens the gap even further between PR and Advertising. 

Why is this taking centre stage now? 
Because the world is going slightly mad and getting overexcited about the 
Internet again. Social media is seen as the invention set to change the world. 
People are  being told their online profile is now more important than any of their other marketing. And they're taking notice.


People have been carrying out research for buying decisions online for years - now it's just being talked about more. Brands playing catch up now start to see that  they do need a strong online profile, positive news stories about them online (not just in print) and multiple channels through which audiences can engage with them. Blogs, twitter, SEO, Digg, Youtube all help, but only if your fundamental PR 
strategy is in line.

For years we've been trying to push the relevance of good online exposure and clients pushed back. They often deemed online coverage as the poor relation to print coverage. They didn't see why their website should be anything more than a brochure or why they would want to invest in developing its content. 

There are some who tried it. Ten years ago I was sat in a boardroom with bosses at EMAP excited about how online content development could broaden their offer to their audience. One year later they made the entire online team redundant. Similar thing happened at the Yorkshire Post.

Both were seen to be before their time and only recently have they re-committed and made such platforms integral to their businesses. 

We have, it seems, come full circle, only now it's a more complex arena to play in. Online PR should most definitely be a player in any marketing mix, but engaging with audiences online is nothing new - now it just appears to be cool.

MaRketing mecHanicS       www.thedrum.co.uk    APR.16.10 tHe DRUm