Digital Public Relations: Beyond Brand Awareness
Public relations has long been considered a pivotal brand awareness tool. But, can it go beyond brand awareness and benefit a brand’s omnichannel digital marketing approach? Yes, when incorporated into the digital marketing mix, a strong digital public relations plan is a powerful and strategic asset that generates down funnel results.
At Darby, we work tirelessly to secure thoughtful strategic digital public relations.
What does strategic digital public relations mean? It means we generate smart digital editorial coverage that complements a brand’s ongoing efforts in email marketing, social media management, SEO, and advertising. By aligning these digital marketing efforts, digital public relations becomes an important tool that assists with SEO, generates high-quality referral traffic, increases lead generation success, decreases cost per click (CPC) on social retargeting campaigns, and ultimately boosts the brand’s e-commerce success.
While PR is not and should not be used as a stand-alone sales tool, it’s an important channel that helps elevate the work being done across other digital channels.
Below we’ve highlighted a case study around our client, Tarpestry, and how we helped to kickstart their e-commerce pivot by leveraging digital public relations.
A Year without Festivals
For Tarpestry, 2020 was going to be the year of festivals—music, fun, camaraderie, and opportunities to sell Tarpestrys to festival-goers! With each festival, a new audience would be introduced to the wonders of sitting on a festival lawn without a soggy bottom, setting up camp with built-in shade, or having the most fashionable picnic either side of the Mississippi. But, like most plans in 2020, Tarpestry’s festival participation came to a screeching halt.
As a valuable revenue-generating avenue dried up in a matter of weeks, Tarpestry quickly pivoted, shifting their attention to digital public relations and marketing to boost e-commerce activity on their website.
Targeting the Right Audiences
For Tarpestry, we focused on strategic traditional and digital public relations efforts, enhancing the revenue capabilities of the existing newsletter, and revamping paid social channels to expand audience retargeting capabilities. To do this, we needed to ensure all of these channels were working together.
We started with a deep dive into Tarpestry’s Google Analytics to understand their digital audience and visitor behavior. Then, we got to work designing integrated digital public relations and marketing campaigns around various use cases and audience personas.
Once these were established, we began to seed product, getting Tarpestry in the hands of important media personnel, with the hopes of generating quality short-lead digital coverage and substantial referral traffic. Within a few weeks, digital coverage began rolling in, providing important third-party validation, quality backlinks to product pages on Tarpestry’s website, and increased referral traffic.
After discovering Tarpestry via PR, some consumers were ready to make a purchase. However, many consumers required more time and engagement with the brand before feeling ready to make a purchase. To continue the conversation and provide quality touchpoints with their newly acquired audience, we helped Tarpestry redesign their email marketing strategy and enhance their social remarketing capabilities to ensure potential customers were met with a frictionless experience wherever they interacted with the brand online.
The Perfect Storm
All of our hard work came to a head in late March. Tarpestry was featured in a Today Show segment on backyard camping, with a corresponding digital Today.com product piece. The morning the piece aired, the Tarpestry website received a huge influx of organic and referral traffic, setting e-commerce records for their site.
Building upon the success of this piece, we enhanced the retargeting social advertising budget and adjusted ad creative to align with the Today Show piece, resulting in record-breaking social conversions for the month of March.
Additionally, with the large influx of email subscribers generated from this coverage, we designed a newsletter aligned with the backyard camping theme used in the Today Show piece. We featured the editorial coverage, highlighted the Zigzag Tarpestry featured in the piece, and introduced subscribers to additional Tarpestry products with similar aesthetics and capabilities. This resulted in one of the most engaged Tarpestry newsletter campaigns to date.
In just 6 months, Tarpestry’s site traffic increased by approximately 370% when compared to the same 6-month period a year prior. Overall, the omnichannel digital public relations and marketing approach resulted in a 2500% increase in e-commerce activity.
Pivoting to an entirely digital strategy in 2020 was not in the plans for Tarpestry, but with the cancellations of all festivals in the wake of COVID-19, it helped the brand survive and thrive during this time, attracting an entirely new audience. Although nothing can replace the high-quality face time spent with customers, every brand can benefit by ensuring that public relations, digital marketing, and social media strategies are aligned.