Digital Public Relations, often called Online PR or ePR, is quite recent compared to traditional PR with its decades of history. It is mostly the strategically planned use of internet- based and new media tools and technologies to build and to maintain a dialogue (Two-way communication) between an organization and its publics. ePR also offers a major contribution to manage online crisis, when social media and online reputation are impacted.
Marketers are wrongly trying to tell the world that they have the expertise of online content management with inbound marketing and content marketing, but only PR can pretend that.
As traditional PR, ePR is all about goals, objectives (which must be “s.m.a.r.t”), strategy, targeted publics, messages, tactics, and measurement. It also has to be integrated within an organization’s global communication strategy, and it is closely related to eMarketing. Unlike ePR, which works on content, online reputation, corporate image, relations with stakeholders, and customers; eMarketing only handles design, online sales and promotion, and advertisement.
The Canadian Public Relations Society’s definition for traditional PR is: PR is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals, and serve the public interest. Based on this definition, the ePR ultimate goals are not only to push information and messages on social networks and blogs, but also to contribute to the overall PR and corporate communication strategy, in terms of two-way symmetric communication (ref. : James E. Grunig). Competition and industry intelligence are also an important task of ePR.
Here are some examples of tools used by ePR professionals to communicate with publics: web sites, social networks, blogs, online news forums, online community forums, RSS, news feed, eNewsletters, online press room, smartphone applications, search engines, podcasts, e-mail, electronic format documents and files, web diffusion (conferences and meetings), etc.
Ultimately, the ePR goals are:
– To create a synergy between an organization and its publics.
– To build a dialogue between an organization and its publics.
– To generate engagement.
– To consolidate an organization’s image and to manage reputation.
– To track competitors strategies and eTactics.
– To control rumours and fake news.
– To contribute to online crisis management.
Unfortunately, it has been difficult to evaluate the ePR effectiveness. Nevertheless, analytic and tracking engines help professionals to analyze, track, and report, i.e. to measure and evaluate their objectives and operations (ref. Barcelona Declaration); content and relationship analysis definitely takes a big part of digital public relations ROI.
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© 2015 – Stephane Prud’homme
Picture from http://www.tsncommunications.com