3 insights to help build a digital brand from scratch

Our digital agency INPRO has been around for over six years, but only in the last year did we actively engage in PR. We have prepared a column for those who, like us, are just starting to build a strategy for promoting a company, create media coverage and shape brand perception. The head of the PR department, Miglena Penkova, shares her experience and tells why you need to go to conferences, how to interact with journalists if no one knows about you, and why internal PR is necessary to attract clients.

3 insights to help build a digital brand from scratch

Starting digital PR from scratch is like preparing a gourmet dish without a prescription. Through trial and error, you can achieve what you want, but it can take hundreds of hours. A similar situation is with building a reputation and image: there are a lot of options for implementation, but no one has yet found a proven recipe for success.

We have read all of Ilyakhov’s books, studied dozens of checklists and talked with experts – and no one has a single answer on how to properly build PR in digital. We decided to act gradually and test various hypotheses on how to most effectively invest the time resource of a PR specialist in promotion. Here are three key lessons we have learned this year.

1. Conferences are not a search for new clients

In my environment, they often talked about conferences as events where mainly sales or key account managers gather. But personally, I have heard quite a few stories when meeting at such an event led to an incredible increase in sales.

I got the impression that during the conversation everyone seemed to agree on everything, but as soon as the conference ends, all the promises disappear. Agreeing to consider an offer resembles more a form of politeness than a real desire to buy the proposed product or service.

We had a case when I agreed with the organizers of a large marketing conference to moderate the scene by my leader. We went there together, and in my free time I talked with the visitors of the event. Thanks to this, I received PR advice from one of the speakers and found several potential partnerships.

The role of a PR specialist in such events is communication. If in sales we are talking about the result as a measurable concrete action, then in the field of PR a partnership agreement can have a more loose form. So, you can agree on the cross-selling of those services in which each of the companies specializes, or discuss the launch of a joint product.

In my opinion, a PR specialist at conferences is much more effective than a sales manager, since his goals are more flexible, and the pool of proposals for interaction is wider.

Beginner tip:

If you work in a field that requires narrowly focused knowledge, such as IT or digital, try to find at the event not a CEO or top manager, but an employee of the PR department. This will make it easier for you to find common ground and understand what kind of partnership you can implement together.

2. Pitching is not a general mailing

For me pitching Is still a mystery shrouded in darkness. In my opinion, it is like a game of roulette: it may seem to you that the material contains incredible knowledge, which will be valuable for thousands of readers of the publication, but in response there is rejection after rejection. How to deal with this for novice specialists is still unclear.

More experienced PR managers are usually already familiar with the majority of industry journalists, which makes the publishing process easier.

Young employees should immediately start building informal connections with editors of the media where they plan to publish. But this process is long and not always predictable, so you can try different strategies in parallel.

For example, in addition to writing to the general mail of the editorial office, try to find contacts of the journalists of the publication on social networks. But in this case, it is very important not to violate personal boundaries – if the person did not answer there, then you should not write ten messages to him in the messenger every day.

Another option is to write a competent letter: it is important to argue why this material is really worth publishing. In your letter, tell us how it can be useful to readers, why this topic is relevant.

When I started pitching articles, I worked on the “take by quantity” principle. As a result, we got monotonous texts without details that did not receive a response.

Then I changed my strategy and began to choose just a few publications for each topic, where the material really suited and wrote the pitch text for each media separately. Thanks to this, my first acquaintances among journalists and publications in specialized publications began to appear.

Beginner tip:

If you are a completely newbie, honestly write about this to a journalist or editor and make an emphasis on the fact that you are ready to refine the material and listen to comments. This will help avoid overestimating expectations on the part of media professionals and reduce the degree of formality.

3. Internal PR is not a digital get-together

When we talk about materials in the media, comments for different publications, maintaining social networks – we often mean the formation of our image in the eyes of existing and potential customers. But at the same time, PR managers very often forget about internal PR, that is, about creating an image for partners and specialists from the same industry.

However, posts on a specialized topic can increase the chances of a potential partnership by becoming proof of your expertise. In addition, the material in the professional media greatly improves the HR brand, showing the level of competence of employees in the company and the projects being implemented.

At INPRO, for example, we pay a lot of attention to working with public organizations and government institutions. Our leader is a member of Delovaya Rossiya, one of the largest unions of entrepreneurs across Russia. Thanks to this, we have access to federal media, and in early June we spoke at the SPIEF.

Within the organization, we also created a subcommittee on digitalization and standardization of the digital ecosystem. This allows us to influence and improve digital globally.

When used correctly, internal PR becomes effective when communicating with customers: mentioning a created subcommittee or an expert article in a specialized publication increases customer loyalty and confirms our level of competence.

Beginner tip:

Write an expert article with a developer, designer, or project manager on a specialized topic. You can send it to both potential partners and clients as confirmation of expertise.

PR is difficult because it is unpredictable. It is impossible to give universal advice or write a checklist “how to build an ideal image in 10 days.” If you are just starting this journey, remember that communication is at the core of the job.

Communicate at conferences and other events, build professional and respectful relationships with editors and journalists, and don’t forget to showcase your team’s real expertise and competencies.

Cover photo and courtesy of the author.

Source: RB.RU by rb.ru.

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