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Is DIY digital PR ever a good idea? Answer: almost never—and here’s why

by | May 16, 2024 | Public Relations

It’s necessary to have a PR strategy for any business. And given the modern digital age, it only makes sense to have a comprehensive digital PR strategy to promote your business. Without one, your brand identity may become incoherent and your reputation could spiral out of your control. 

Of course, building a digital PR strategy isn’t exactly easy. Most business owners choose to work with a digital PR management firm, or at the very least, a team of independent consultants and freelancers for their digital PR needs. 

But is it possible, or even better to practice DIY digital PR? 

The core tenets of a digital PR campaign

First, it’s important not to underestimate just how complex and multifaceted digital PR can be. The average campaign should include at least the following: 

  • Branding and company identity. You need to know what your business is and what it represents to your target audience before you can start fostering better relationships with those constituents. 
  • Reputational controls. It’s also imperative to have some reputational controls in place. It’s your responsibility to shape how the public perceives you. 
  • Press releases and offsite articles. Regularly issuing press releases and publishing offsite articles is common in the era where “content is king.” 
  • Search engine optimization. Similarly, most modern digital PR strategies include some elements of SEO. In other words, they make it more likely for your website to rank highly in online search results. 
  • Social media posts and engagements. Social media—being free, heavily populated, and accessible—is another major digital PR pillar. 

The role of your digital PR agency

Digital PR agencies are dedicated to helping businesses like yours achieve their goals. That typically means a combination of: 

  • Strategy. Digital PR firms can help you define your goals, clarify your strategic objectives, choose the right tactics, and even develop your brand. No matter how long you’ve been in business or what your goals are, they can set you on the right path. 
  • Execution. Digital PR firms also help with execution. From press release development to link building for SEO, they can make sure your brand is adequately represented across the web. 
  • Analysis. Beyond that, digital PR agencies and similar organizations can help you analyze your results and improve your strategies in the future. It’s not just about executing the work; it’s about helping you achieve your goals. 

Freelancers and consultants can help you in these matters as well, but only with a digital PR agency will you have comprehensive, singularly located support. 

The trouble with self-managed digital PR

As you might imagine, there’s nothing stopping you from practicing digital PR on your own. However, most DIY digital PR campaigns run into issues related to the following: 

  • Strategic knowledge. Do you really know your industry, inside and out? Do you know who your target audience is and what they want to see? Are you confident that, given a fixed budget, you could extract the maximum possible value for your investment? Without strategic knowledge, most DIY PR practitioners fumble. 
  • Availability (and time demands). Most entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketing leaders are already working far more than 40 hours a week. They’re swamped with responsibilities from various departments and are constantly fighting to stay afloat. Digital PR isn’t a passive strategy, even with significant automation in place. If you choose to practice digital PR on your own, you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed by time demands. 
  • Scalability. It’s also very hard to scale a strategy if you’re working on your own. Digital PR for a small business might be perfectly feasible, but as your business begins to grow, so will your digital PR responsibilities. It’s often better to grow with an organization that can grow alongside you. 
  • Costs. Some people choose DIY PR to save money, but it ends up costing them in the long run. That’s because, without experts, you could end up investing in the wrong types of strategies and ultimately compromise your rate of return. 
  • Analytic potential. Data analytics is another struggle. If you aren’t able to properly measure or analyze your performance, how will you possibly improve it? 
  • Opportunity costs. We also need to consider the opportunity costs. DIY digital PR practitioners often do see positive ROI—it’s just not as high or as impressive as it could be if those practitioners were to work with digital PR agencies. 

So how often do DIY digital PR strategies actually work out?

The short answer is: rarely. It’s not hard to learn the fundamentals of digital PR, nor is it beyond the average person’s capabilities to practice some aspects of digital PR on their own. But if you want to properly support your business, achieve your goals, and reach your fullest potential, you’re much better off working with a digital PR agency in most cases.

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is a freelance tech and computer writer

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