By Laura Merritt, AOE Special Projects Manager
When I began my career in public relations, the internet was in its infancy and social media was several years into the future. The press release was king and our target audience—print, tv and radio outlets—typically received our pitches over the phone and our releases by fax. A lot has changed…and we are better for it.
Even as it has evolved to keep pace with changing technologies, traditional PR continues to play an important role in business strategies. From media outreach to reputation management and crisis communications, the responsibilities of the PR professional are as, if not more, important today as in years past.
Yet in today’s expansive media landscape where having an online presence is a necessity, businesses and organizations are looking beyond traditional PR to get their messaging to the masses. Connecting with online journalists, influencers and bloggers; helping drive high-quality backlinks (links to your website) and social media mentions; and improving their organization’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) have become integral to their overall PR strategy. This approach is known as digital PR.
At first glance it appears that traditional and digital PR have very different priorities. Digital PR is viewed by many who practice traditional PR as more concerned about links than about content or the relevancy of the media coverage. Traditional PR is conversely seen by some digital practitioners as hard to measure, old-fashioned, not essential and “fluff.”
Yet, traditional and digital PR each provide value and a truly successful PR strategy can and should include both. For example, leaders know that building a good reputation and transforming perception directly impact their organization’s success. Once a reputation is damaged, it is very difficult to repair. By working together, traditional and digital PR can more effectively protect their organization’s reputation and, if it has been damaged, take steps to shift public perception to improve it. By combining their efforts, they can maximize their results.
I recently attended a webinar titled, “Traditional PR vs Digital PR: The Quest for the Holy Grail” hosted by Agility PR. The speakers, Claire Reynolds and Dave Endsor from Tank, presented their differing opinions regarding PR (Claire heads up Tank’s PR department while Dave is the head of content). Yet they shared that the tension typically found between traditional and digital PR does not stop their two departments from coming together to get big results for their clients.
Traditional and digital PR, along with content, are not only capable of co-existing but can also complement one another. For example, once the traditional PR professional creates a press release, digital PR can step in to help position the announcement above others through SEO and drive viewers to the website.
When communications teams recognize the symbiotic relationship between the two approaches and leverage it by aspiring for links as well as positive and quality coverage, they will increase brand awareness and help solidify the organization’s reputation.
Traditional and digital PR can co-exist. By working together, you will capture the PR Holy Grail—delivering the best results for your organization.