Nana Akua Amofa: Is Digital Public Relations Engaging Audiences Better?
Communicating with friends and family in Ghana has evolved from the late 90s and early 2000s due to rapid technological advancement and digital innovation. Before the advent of mobile phones, I used to walk for about 5 to 10 minutes from my house to the nearest telecom booth to make a phone call. Some days, I was fortunate enough to avoid any queues, while on other days, not so much. In secondary school, letters were my main source of communication, and then the occasional unauthorised use of mobile phones.
Communication has undergone tremendous changes in recent times, completely redefining how we connect with others and share information. With the advent of the internet, mobile phones, social media, video conferencing, instant messaging, IoT, AR and VR technologies, AI, and chatbots, we have access to new and innovative ways to engage with each other. Individuals and organisations alike are embracing these changes and finding innovative ways to communicate and connect with their audiences. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see further evolution in the way we communicate across various sectors, both in our personal and professional lives.
One sector that has experienced a similar significant transformation is public relations. We are witnessing a growing shift in the use of online platforms and tools, in addition to traditional media such as print, TV, and radio. Public relations practitioners are utilising digital channels and technologies to manage organisations’ communication and relationships with their target audience and stakeholders. They are also leveraging online platforms to create, maintain, and enhance a positive brand image and reputation while maximising the impact and efficiency of PR efforts. Digital PR is improving public relations in ways like:
Increased Reach and Real-time Engagement
Digital PR provides the opportunity to gain a wider reach and connect with a vast and global audience. Through online platforms like blogs, online news outlets etc., PR professionals are able to share information and connect with a much wider audience. Digital PR offers instant and real-time engagement with a target audience, stakeholders and the general public. It gives professionals the opportunity to provide feedback instantly, respond to queries and comments and ultimately build and nurture a more dynamic and interactive relationship with their audience.
Content Creation and Distribution
Digital PR allows for the creation and distribution of a wide variety of content more efficiently and effectively through digital channels. This includes articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, and other materials that can be easily shared with the public.
Online and social media platforms create an avenue for increased community engagement and fostering stronger relationships. Through this, PR professionals have an avenue to connect, engage and interact with customers, answer questions, and address concerns.
Digital PR has expanded the ways individuals, brands and businesses can own their narratives and tell their stories. Videos, documentaries, podcasts, webinars, infographics, and so on, are some of the ways we can leverage to engage and inform the public.
Influencer partnerships and collaborations have become vital in public relations. More brands and businesses are beginning to see the value of influencer collaborations, if done right. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations with influencers and bloggers, an organisation can make significant strides in its digital PR efforts and extend the reach and credibility of PR campaigns, initiatives, events, and product launches.
Online Reputation Management
Digital PR plays a vital role in monitoring and managing an organisation’s online reputation. In today’s digital age, crises can escalate quickly which is why it is vital for brands to be vested in their online presence and everything that affects them. Digital PR can provide PR professionals with the ability to identify and monitor issues, respond to crises in real time, manage their online reputation, and counter negative information swiftly. It can also support addressing negative comments, reviews, or news effectively to safeguard the brand’s image.
Social Media Monitoring and Cost-Effectiveness
Social media is a vital platform for digital PR as professionals can use tools to monitor and analyse social media conversations, allowing them to stay on top of trends, identify emerging issues, and adapt their strategies accordingly. Also, digital PR provides a cost-effective alternative as compared to traditional PR methods and reaches a much wider audience.
Provides Measurable Results
As compared to traditional PR, digital PR efforts are highly measurable as they provide relevant data, insights and analytics that can help track, monitor, evaluate and measure key performance indicators and objectives. Data and insights such as website traffic, click-through rates, and social media engagement, can help to gauge the success of PR campaigns and make informed decisions on subsequent strategies among others. It helps to track, monitor, evaluate and measure the performance of their campaigns, monitor audience sentiment, and make data-driven decisions to refine and optimize their strategies.
Digital PR has revolutionised public relations by offering new tools, strategies, and opportunities to engage with audiences in the digital age. It allows for broader reach, real-time interaction, data-driven decision-making, and a more cost-effective approach to building and managing an organisation’s reputation. Organisations that embrace these changes and adapt their strategies to the digital landscape are better positioned to connect with their audiences and achieve their communication goals.
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