Digital PR vs traditional PR

Enjoy Digital
By Enjoy Digital
5 minutes to read

15 years ago, there wasn’t a split between traditional and digital PR, everything fell under one roof. Today it’s a different story.

As audiences have moved towards consuming media online, newspaper circulations have decreased and there’s now more content and news online than ever before. As a result, digital PR has emerged as a key arm to most marketing strategies.

However despite the rise in digital engagement, the core purpose of traditional and online PR remains the same. Both seek to enhance a brand’s reputation and increase awareness among target audiences with the intention of generating a return on investment.

But how do you know which PR strategy is best for your brand?

Traditional PR

Traditional PR focuses on a brand’s offline visibility.  More often than not press releases in print media come to mind when thinking of traditional PR but there’s more to it than just that. Reputation management, events, public speaking, sponsorship opportunities and stunts all fall under the umbrella of traditional PR.

Traditional PR has its drawbacks. Offline visibility is usually a one-way conversation between a brand and its target audience. It also requires a lot of patience. Media outlets often have long lead times and conduct a lot of research meaning traditional media outreach may not produce results for a while. And when the results do come in, activity can be difficult to track and often provide little consumer feedback.

That being said, traditional PR is still a vital tool for a lot of brands in today’s digitised world. Especially since we know how valuable traditional tactics can be in achieving digital objectives, such as increasing brand searches and improving online visibility. And ultimately, awareness is something that brands can’t afford to miss out on.

Digital PR

Because of the limitations often associated with traditional PR, it’s had to adapt to the digital age and reach its target audience where they consume the majority of their information – online. If you hadn’t guessed already, digital PR methods directly contribute to a brand’s online visibility, supporting and increasing the effectiveness of SEO strategies.

Although digital and traditional PR methods don’t hugely differ in terms of approach and goals, digital specialises in two-way conversations, encouraging brand interaction and customer engagement. This can be achieved through content, paid and earned media, influencer engagement, technical SEO and securing those highly coveted backlinks.

Similar to traditional PR, digital intends to raise awareness of the brand, build relationships and secure media placements. Its main benefit is the power it has to provide tangible results and insights, returning specific data which is often hard to track and retrieve using traditional methods. Tools allow marketers to track the power of digital placements, improve the user experience and measure website engagement; all of which is useful information that can provide key learnings and inform future content and the overall strategy too.

Which approach is best?

When it comes to deciding which approach is best suited for your brand, it’s essential to assess and understand your business goals. Can they be achieved best through digital, traditional or a mixture of the two?

As digital PR is rooted in data, it provides brands more opportunity to produce the right content, for the right customers, at the right time. It lets brands become creative and produce content that’s valuable to audiences and generates links from other sites, ultimately increasing the brands visibility in search engines.

Although digital PR has clear benefits, brands can extend their reach by using both approaches to PR where appropriate. But ultimately, if you’re not reaching your target audience, it’s time to change your approach.

Brands should aim to increase their following whether online or offline. So if you’re not reaching your target audience effectively, it’s time to change your approach.

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