Digital PR is more than just link building, it’s online brand-building. It’s leaving a trail of online, enduring signs and signals that a business is trustworthy and popular: a mention of your business in The Financial Times, a link to your product page from a widely respected trade title, an influential journalist talking about you on social. These typically have to be earned, which is why it’s so powerful (when done well). Google’s John Mueller has even said that digital PR was probably more important than technical SEO.
PR professionals have been masters in reputation-building since before the internet and search engines existed. Google judges rankings based on E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trust): signals to evaluate the credibility and reputation of the author, publisher and content. In other words, Google is looking for signs that a business is trustworthy, and PR professionals are perfectly placed to give Google what its looking for.