About change: pivoting into digital PR

By Harry Gardiner

19th January 2017

To many, when the topic of ‘marketing’ is discussed, it’s thought of as a general blend of direct and digital advertising, with the genuine intricacies inbetween being glossed over (even after discussing SEO and digital marketing with my parents, I later heard one exclaim that I “worked for Google”). Whilst in broad strokes that description may be partly true, in reality each individual aspect has its own unique practices, features, and identity.

Speaking as someone who went from studying creative advertising, to working in content marketing, before moving into digital PR, I’ve been given the chance to experience many different forms of the marketing umbrella. Whilst I’m only four years into my career, I thought I’d record my dovetail into the world of digital PR, chronicling the differences and similarities I’ve encountered, as well as reflecting on what I’ve learnt so far.

Reactive Responses
From sharing the morning’s latest news stories to monitoring and responding to trending topics on Twitter, the shift I’ve taken into a more reactive industry has been exceedingly noticeable.

When previously working on a content marketing campaign, rigorous plans would be made months in advance, and unless something remarkably drastic happened, these plans would for the best part be carried out to fruition.

However, I’m constantly astonished at the remarkable adaptability of the PR industry. With online platforms turning everyone and anyone into social journalists (for better or worse), impactful stories break constantly and plans have to be altered, budgets realigned and content created as and when it’s needed to be.

Whilst this will come as no great shock to anyone who has ever worked in close proximity to PR, it’s still incredibly encouraging, and educational, to watch it happen in practice.

Team Players
The increased content fluidity is aided by the division of labour within the team. Whereas previously I’ve worked in teams separated by different specialties (SEO, content, PPC etc), moving into PR has meant that everyone is working across the same vertical, albeit in different sections.

This continuity of knowledge across the agency allows ideas to be passed along in a way unlike I’ve experienced in more multi-disciplined agencies.

The Same, but Different
Whilst the above has highlighted some of the differences there are still many similarities and skills I’ve developed working within previous verticals that prove useful within the world of PR.

Social optimisation, scheduling, and promotion: the importance of social as a promotional platform is something that most businesses have slowly but surely cottoned onto over the last few years, with the marketing industry leading the charge on many levels. It’s always enlightening to see how different teams manage different social accounts. And it’s encouraging to notice that many organisations adhere to the same principles and practices when it comes to social promotion.

Digital outreach: I’ve never actually met someone who likes writing emails to people they don’t know. If such people exist, please inform me immediately, because they are surely amazing at outreaching online.

That being said, I’ve been constantly impressed by the communication skills of my colleagues, both in terms of professionalism and ability to connect. In an industry where spammers and cold callers are rampant, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with people who understand the true value of proper communication.

All change
So there you have it, for all of marketing’s differences and similarities one thing is for certain – with the majority of brands finally having woken up to just how important a positive online presence is, and connected technology engaging users like never before, there’s never been a more exciting time to work in social.