Digital has changed the way customers communicate with brands. To stay relevant, brands have no choice but to change the way they communicate with customers.

At the national conference of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) 2019, technology and PR was the main topic of conversation. I highlighted three of my key takeaways from the conference, which I think businesses and startups can already start to adopt:

  • It’s not just about USP. What’s your EVP? With digital communications, corporate cultures are pretty much an open book. The way you treat your employees and partners reflects on your online reputation. So, rather than focusing on your product and its unique selling proposition, Peter Cheese (CEO at CIPD) advised entrepreneurs to explore their Employee Value Proposition (EVP). What are you offering your team, how are you treating them, and how is this reflected within the digital landscape?
  • Peek inside your customer's brains. Surveys and interviews might be a nice way to gauge audience interest but to get a real feel of what potential customers are thinking, use Google. Generally, people are more honest with Google than they are with anyone else. At the same time, Google monitors and provides search trends through an auto-complete feature. Businesses can use this feature to identify those common questions within their sectors that audiences are actively searching for. In addition, there are tools that businesses can use to visualise these results. One of these tools, as recommended by Sophie Coley from Search Listening, is AnswerthePublic which has a freemium version.
  • Advertising is not a long-term strategy. The biggest driver of digital revenue is organic search. This means that, to maximise returns on investment, businesses should focus on generating good content. One popular method to boost organic content is by attracting links from other websites. Traditionally, SEO specialists would achieve this by requesting other websites to link to their pages. However, this strategy is no longer as effective and genuine content managers are often too busy to revisit articles. Instead, Adrian Ma (MD at FanClub PR) advised entrepreneurs to create valuable content which other organisations just want and have to link to. Examples include PDFs, in-depth guides or videos (that cannot be embedded).

Combined, these strategies can be summed up as follows: Treat your employees well to improve your digital reputation, take a look at what your audiences are searching for with tools like Answerthepublic and Google Auto-complete, identify organisations that provide content within this area, and develop tailored content surrounding those topics which website are just going to want to link to.