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Understanding traditional and digital PR

Gaynor Simpson

21st century public relations requires a mixture of traditional and digital PR methods.

Traditional public relations methods include:

  • Writing and issuing press releases
  • Speaker and networking opportunities
  • Crisis management
  • Sponsorship opportunities
  • Events

Traditional PR focuses on mainstream print and broadcast media outlets (newspapers, magazines, radio, TV). It is very successful for improving brand awareness and tracking how consistent your messaging is. You can assess the ‘reach’ achieved by looking at readership or audience figures and combine this with reviewing how your business is portrayed.

While the strategies used with digital PR are similar to those used with traditional PR, digital activity also provides huge opportunities to build links and optimise your brand online.

Digital PR also allows you to reach online influencers and bloggers, complementing the audiences reached by traditional media outlets.

A digital PR specialist builds strong relationships with influential bloggers and works with them on a regular basis in order to share content. This might, for instance, be in the form of a blog post that links to a client’s social media platform or website.

Both forms of PR are important. Traditional PR helps create brand awareness and is an excellent complement to the more immediate results offered through digital PR. Both play an important role in supporting broader marketing and sales activity.

What is the difference between PR and marketing?

Public relations is a reputation management tool, its focus is on steering the public image of a business or organisation in a favourable direction.
Marketing is a sales tool. It is a way of promoting and selling products and services. In many organisations, marketing and PR will work closely together, ensuring that there is strategic alignment between selling a product or service and the image of the company selling the product or service.

In for the long haul

Public relations is a marathon, not a sprint. Securing media coverage takes time and consistency. Do not expect overnight results. A consistent, strategic approach involves identifying good stories and the best way of getting those stories out to the media, approaching journalists who are working to tight deadlines and staying on top of the follow up process.
The goal is to ensure your company’s name is constantly in your target media outlets in a positive way, communicating your key messages and brand values. The more a target audience hears about a company or brand in a credible publication, the more they will trust it and start to associate that brand with the values that company is trying to communicate.

Patience and priorities

Accept that good PR takes time. And in order for it to be successful, you need to make it a priority. Make sure that your PR goals are aligned with your business goals (are you launching a brand new business? Looking for start up investment? Expanding an established business? Recruiting new talent? etc) Look at what other businesses in your space are doing. What can you learn from them about good – and not so good – reputation management? For startups, the PR process can be particularly time consuming as you are building a brand identity from scratch. The benefits however, can be considerable.

For more on what PR means and how it works read How to PR like a pro. Also Writing a press release…your go-to guide

Gaynor Simpson is PR Manager for Women’s Business Centre and Women’s Enterprise Scotland, and is a successful self-employed PR consultant.

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Gaynor Simpson
Gaynor Simpson
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