Traditional PR vs Digital PR: Can you have the best of both worlds?
We live in a society that lives for a good feud. You know what I’m referring to, that not so guilty pleasure that arises as we salivate over the back and forth Twitter wars and shady, allusive captions. Some of our favs include Cardi versus Nicki, Taylor versus Kanye, digital PR versus traditional PR. Okay so we threw that last one in there, but as technology continues to progress in the marketing world, so does the battle of old school versus new.
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), public relations is a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. An “organization” can be can anything from a brand, company, or individual. The two types of public relations, traditional PR and digital PR, are differentiated by the tactics and channels they implore, leading many professionals to question if one is better than the other. Luckily, this isn’t the Hunger Games, and both PR practices can reign victorious! However, to understand how to utilize both public relations strategies, we must first understand what makes them different.
Traditionally, public relations professionals focus on crisis communications, reputation management, press release distribution, printed press, sponsorships, trade shows, and event coordination–otherwise known as brand recognition. PR professionals earn this brand recognition by engaging with and pitching to a rolodex of media contacts. The real beauty of traditional PR is its ability to increase brand awareness and evolve brand positioning in an organic, genuine way. One disadvantage of this practice is the lack of metrics to track initiatives. “How many people actually read this?”, and “Did I really get a return on my investment?” are just some of the questions traditional PR can present.
The goals of digital and traditional public relations align in that they both aim to build solid relationships that place their objective at the forefront. So how does this work in the digital age? Two words: influencers and digital publications. Well, social media, for starters, has birthed key players in the digital space–influencers. Influencer marketing is a long time marketing strategy for companies that brings a spirit of authenticity to the brand, allowing them to reach the right target audience. Micro, macro, and mega influencers are great for brands because they come with a loyal following, and studies show audiences find them more trustworthy as sources of advocacy. Influencers are not the only benefits of the digital sphere; digital PR has allotted more measurable, immediate, and shareable content, through publications like Buzzfeed, Popsugar, The Knot, and Teen Vogue. With these publications come hundreds of social analytic tools that allow PR professionals to track metrics and public relations efforts directly. Hootsuite and Google Analytics are great resources, to name a few. Although the digital world of PR has provided a great opportunity, crisis management can now be trickier. For instance, audiences now have the capability to make direct comments on brands owned media as well as live stream content. As a result, public relations professionals must always remain alert and prepared.
It’s important to consider which public relations practice vibes with your business goals. The digital sphere of public relations enables businesses and entrepreneurs to cost-effectively reach millions of potential customers. Newspapers and trade shows aren’t necessary when you can instantly reach millions with the click of a button. Don’t work harder, work smarter!
Whether you favor one practice over the other or make like Hannah Montana and enjoy the best of both worlds, the key takeaway is to remember that at the heart of both is a story you are responsible for conveying and effectively sharing. So, which of these practices will you implement first? We’d love to know! Comment below which you’ll be testing out first. Not sure where you fit in when it comes to public relations for your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.