5 underrated skills you need to be a good digital PR and how to master them

5 underrated skills you need to be a good digital PR and how to master them

I often get asked how people can get into digital PR as a career. There are currently no digital PR degrees you can earn. Most decent senior digital PR professionals, like SEO professionals, are self-taught. The role itself is a hybrid: part PR, part SEO, part content marketer, part journalist. If you have a background in one of these areas, you probably have at least some of the knowledge to do good digital PR.

However, many of the digital PRs I’ve worked with or trained have no formal training or experience in any of the above roles. However, all those who have been successful were able to quickly learn the five attributes listed below.

1. Resilience

One of the hard truths about digital PR is that at some point, you’re going to work really, really hard on a campaign, and it’s going to fail. You’ll send it out widely and hope the links will come, but you won’t get anything in return, except maybe the odd unsubscribe request. Even worse, sometimes you’ll get a response, but that response will tell you in no uncertain terms what you can do with your press release.

Some days, it can be more demoralizing than others, especially in the midst of a link drought. You’ll see your peers sharing their success on social media. Comparison is the thief of joy, and it’s never more true than in digital PR. Without resilience, you could easily find yourself falling victim to imposter syndrome or start to think you’re not ready for the job.

To thrive in a digital PR role, you have to learn to accept rejection, especially when you see the first sign that a campaign isn’t working. Instead of taking it personally, you need to have the hard conversations and make the right decision to pivot or move on to the next one. Both can be ego bruises when you work hard.

But remember, it’s not personal. It could be the news cycle. Someone else may have had the idea first. It might just be bad luck.

Remember when COVID-19 hit or when Queen Elizabeth II died? Imagine how many PR campaigns have had to be shelved.

Learning to separate yourself from your abilities and your campaigns will be crucial to building the resilience you need to bounce back after being hit. It will help you start working on your next campaign.

The media cycle is fickle. There will be defeats, but there will also be victories. That’s why, when I’ve been in charge of teams, I’ve focused on celebrating the small victories because they keep morale up.

Does a reporter email you back? Get the champagne emoji out of Slack. Have you had any coverage? Send this little fireworks GIF.

Have you earned a link for a client? Break out the party hats and donuts. Got a follow link on a dream post? Take the rest of the afternoon off. You’ve earned it.

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2. Drive

If you can manage all of the above with resilience, the next skill you need is driving. This is the key attribute I look for when hiring junior digital PR roles.

You can teach someone the difference between a follow link and a no follow link, but it’s very difficult to teach someone how to drive.

If you’re worried about not having experience in a digital PR role, that’s okay. The nuts and bolts of how to do digital PR can be taught, but you’ll need to be able to cultivate and demonstrate drive.

If you don’t have KPIs, set some up. You have a personal list of dream sites you want to link to and a short list of dream clients you’d like to work with.

There’s a reason this role suits the driven and those who find the thrill of the chase satisfying. The best in the business will always be chasing the next coverage, the next dream link.

I’ve been doing this job for years and I still don’t feel like I’ve landed a great link for a client after weeks of trying.

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3. Curiosity

When I asked my digital PR colleagues what skills made them good at their jobs, the first thing a bunch of the best ones I know said was curiosity.

And it’s ready. If you are not curious, this is not the career for you.

If, like me, you come from a journalism background, chances are you’re professionally nosy anyway. The same is generally true of those with an SEO background, who are often natural problem solvers.

One of the hardest parts of digital PR is ideation. Ideation is the creation of campaign ideas, whether reactive based on trending topics or pop culture moments or proactive based on a client’s niche.

Coming up with ideas in an empty room can be a real challenge. If you don’t take the time to fall into information holes, it will be very difficult to keep bringing new ideas to the table.

I always know I’m running the risk of burnout and need a vacation if I start to lose interest in everything and the faucet of ideas starts to run dry.

You’ll have to find a way to stay interested in the world around you and feed yourself the things that generate ideas. This will look different for everyone.

As digital PRs, our curiosity is often one of our most important skills. It’s worth nurturing, and for me, that means giving myself plenty of time and space to indulge my curiosity.

Sometimes it seems to scroll through TikTok. Other times, it might feel like a mid-day walk to get out and let things sink into your head.

I also keep in touch with what my peers are doing in the industry through newsletters like this one The vineyard or checking what other advertising messages are Famous Campaigns.

Dig Deeper: Are we less curious about SEO?

4. Sense of the news

The meaning of the news is difficult to explain. Some think it’s an instinct you either have or you don’t. I think of it as a muscle that you can train over time.

To get the word out or break the news as a journalist or PR, you must first become an avid consumer of the news. You have to immerse yourself in the media landscape where you are trying to place your customers. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard news or lifestyle and entertainment news.

This often means thinking about the type of content that interests your client’s customers. After all, a link is all the more valuable if it actually generates traffic.

So how do you do it?

Subscribe to newsletters. Follow news organizations and magazines on X or TikTok. Every day, start by reading the morning headlines and watch the news with dinner at night.

If you work with lifestyle clients (fashion, beauty, interior, etc.), apply the same level of content consumption to lifestyle press and current lifestyle and celebrity trends. Make sure you’re on top of Netflix’s next big show. In general, you just need to keep your finger on the pulse of the culture.

This is the easiest way to understand what is and isn’t news in your niche. SEO often makes the news these days. There are now journalists who have the title of SEO reporter, who provide articles based on what consumers are searching for.

Now I’ll caveat everything I just said by saying it’s okay to take a break.

The news these days is a relentless 24-hour tape of information and (sometimes disturbing) content. Remember to protect your mental health and take frequent breaks and digital detox.

When you’re on annual leave, it’s okay to delete your apps and news alerts and give yourself a real breather, even if you’re a freelancer.

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Media law will vary depending on where you are, but I’m writing this from the UK and we have one of the most strict defamation laws in the world.

When we train as journalists here, media law is a crucial part of it, and if you don’t pass that exam, you don’t get accredited. And rightly so.

I’m not saying that digital PR should be credentialed the same way journalists are. However, in a world where we increasingly send content to journalists on behalf of clients, and that content is often copied and pasted onto a publisher’s site linking to our client’s site, it’s probably not a bad idea have an idea of ​​the Law.

Apart from understanding the legal ramifications of our work, it is also important to have a strong sense of media ethics.

With the rise of what has been called “black hat digital PR,” the ethical considerations of digital PR have become a hot topic over the past year. (This is something I’ve written about before.)

If you come from a background where you didn’t study PR or media, this may not be something that was instilled in you. You might think that it’s not very important and that your focus should be on links at all costs.

However, if you want to be successful in digital PR and take pride in your work, it is essential to understand the importance of ethical conduct in digital PR.

This is key to building trust, which is a big part of your job: trust with customers, wider marketing stakeholders and trust with journalists. Thanks in part to AI (and the rise of black-hat digital PR), trust is harder than ever to earn, and journalists are inundated with AI sources.

Journalists are quick to distrust these AI sources and fake experts who shape black-hat digital PR. We already know that Google takes the fight against misinformation seriously, especially with YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics.

We know that customers care about their brands and websites and don’t want to be penalized by Google or blacklisted by the media. It’s pretty easy to see that this behavior is not a long-term strategy for success in digital PR.

While ethics are fairly straightforward, media law can be complicated. Wherever you are, you’ll find great online resources to equip you with the basics. In the US, a great resource is the First Amendment Handbook.

Master the basics to build a digital PR career

Digital PR is an excellent career choice for entry-level digital marketers looking for specialization. Much of the role may be self-taught or learned on the job.

To excel in this role, you will need to be resilient, motivated and curious. It will also help you build that news sense muscle and develop a basic understanding of media law and digital PR ethics and what not to do.

If you can nail these five things, then the links are yours.

The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.



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About the Author: Ted Simmons

I follow and report the current news trends on Google news.

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