As the online world continues to grow, marketing teams are beginning to shift their focus away from traditional PR and embracing a digital revolution. While it’s undeniable that PR will always be a key part of promoting and building a brand, the old way is no longer the only way.

Thanks to the internet, audiences have changed the way they interact with media and consume content, but does this really mean that there’s nothing left to be said for the tried and tested strategies of the past?

Before dismissing either of these approaches of public relations, take the time to properly understand what both digital and traditional PR methods have to offer. This blog post will help you to develop a deeper understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of public relations, allowing you to determine which approach will work best for your business.

To determine whether traditional PR holds up against digital campaigns, let’s take a look at what each one entails and how it relates to the modern market.

What is traditional PR?

If you’re new to marketing or aren’t a PR professional, you might not be 100% clear on what traditional PR is. Before the internet took the world by storm, public relations campaigns were run primarily through channels such as:

  • Newspapers/ Magazines
  • TV/ Radio
  • Posters, Leaflets and Billboards
  • Events

Traditional PR is incredibly effective at increasing brand awareness, improving business visibility and nurturing positive customer relations. It’s generally respected by a variety of stakeholders, making it a smart choice for brands looking to boost the legitimacy and trustworthiness of their presence within the UK media.

Many businesses still use traditional channels to advertise, which means that despite the growing significance of the digital world, traditional PR is still successful at reaching audiences and creating a positive image for brands. The extent of this depends on a myriad of factors, including the type of business you own and the audience you’re trying to reach.

It’s also worth noting that many traditional campaigns are now able to transcend channels and make their way into the digital sphere. It’s not uncommon to see audiences praising or discussing PR stunts on social media or blogs, showing that even more traditional tactics have the power to stay relevant.

What is digital PR?

As the name suggests, digital PR involves using online channels to promote and increase the visibility of brands. But, unlike traditional strategies, digital tactics are a lot subtler and don’t always involve a direct sales pitch or message. Digital PR is all about driving long-term interest, engagement, and conversions, focussing on targeted audiences rather than the general public as a whole.

These days, almost every business uses some form of digital PR as part of its marketing strategy, but it’s especially well-suited to smaller businesses. The reason for this becomes more evident when considering the kinds of channels that can be used for digital PR campaigns, including:

  • Online news stories/product placement
  • Social Media
  • Newsjacking
  • Influencer Partnerships

It’s not just these more accessible channels that appeal to small businesses, however, but the fact that digital PR helps them to build links. Every PR-focussed piece of content can help your link building efforts, which will signal to search engines that your business website is an authority within your industry.

Traditional PR vs Digital PR

It’s safe to say that both traditional and digital PR have their place in a modern business marketing strategy, but which one will serve your business the best? Before delving into a more in-depth comparison, it’s crucial to note that, despite their differences, traditional and digital PR have largely the same goals. Regardless of the channel they’re distributed on, public relations campaigns have always sought to boost awareness and cultivate a positive brand image.

If you’re having trouble weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and digital PR, here are some key areas you need to consider:

Measuring Impact

When you invest money into a PR strategy, it’s only natural to want to know how effective it was. If your campaign was a digital one, it’s easy to measure its success by using software such as Google Analytics. Not only will you be able to track how many people saw and engaged with your content, but you’ll also be able to monitor what percentage of that audience later visited your website or became a customer.

Furthermore, digital PR’s impact on your SEO efforts means that you can determine a campaign’s success by monitoring page rankings using programmes like SEMrush.

Unfortunately, the same analytical depth can’t be achieved with traditional PR campaigns. While you might notice an influx of sales after an article is published in a newspaper or a new billboard goes up, there’s no real way of telling whether those customers came from your PR push. It can be frustrating to speculate whether your campaigns are reaching your target audience, especially if you’re a small business and you don’t have the time or capital to waste on investments that don’t deliver results.

Reach and Visibility

The online world is undoubtedly the best way to get your business seen by the widest possible audience. Unlike traditional channels, digital PR allows you to share your campaigns with people across the globe, extending your reach far beyond that of your local area. What’s more, with the readership of physical newspapers declining, sharing your articles on the internet will lead to more engagement and visibility than you could hope to achieve with printouts.

However, this doesn’t mean that traditional PR has no role in furthering a business’ reach. TV, radio and print media can all help to improve visibility, but it’s better to use them in addition to your digital efforts rather than as a replacement for them. This is something that larger businesses can afford to do, but it isn’t always affordable or even necessary for smaller operations.

Engagement

Digital PR typically enjoys a higher level of engagement than traditional PR. While some traditional campaigns will transcend barriers and facilitate discussions online, digital channels already have an inbuilt potential for conversation. Not only will audiences be able to like, share and comment on videos and articles, but backlinks will also take them straight to a business’s website where they can then go on to convert and buy their products.

Traditional PR requires an audience to independently contact a business or search for them online after seeing an advert, but digital campaigns make sure brands are just a click away.

Lifespan

Traditional PR is much more fleeting than its digital counterpart, as a press release in a magazine or newspaper will circulate for a limited amount of time, while backlinks will continue to provide value in the months to come. Some high-performing guest blogs and campaigns can drive traffic to a business’ website on and off for years depending on their topic and relevancy to current affairs.

Even if your digital campaign does become outdated over time, the backlinks you secured through it will continue to boost your SEO and page rankings.

Start your small business digital PR campaign today

If you’re a small business, then digital PR is one of the most accessible ways to build a positive brand image and boost your existing marketing strategy. Not only is it more affordable than traditional PR, but it also has far-reaching, long-term benefits that can easily be analysed to measure success.

Reach your target market in a cost-effective way today by partnering with a professional PR agency like us 🙂 Get in touch to start the conversation.