"Traditional PR is dead!" boomed the digital PR agency, sparking an uproar from neighbouring professionals who do a very similar job.
“But we can still see it’s very much alive! We still have clients!” quipped a veteran of the traditional PR world.
“Ah, yes”, said the digital PR agency. “Traditional PR is hanging in there… but your clients are missing out”.
As the digital landscape rapidly evolves, the modern world has introduced metrics that traditional PR wasn’t built for. Digital PR is an evolution of traditional PR, and factors more accurate website analytics, measured Google performance, and genuine ROI. So, is traditional PR dead and if so, what is the future of PR?
In this thought-provoking article, we delve into the rapidly changing world of public relations and explore the reasons behind this audacious claim. By highlighting the success of digital PR and its impact, we aim to shed light on the shifting dynamics of PR in the digital age.
With the rise of organic SEO, on-site content, social media, influencer marketing, and content creation, it's becoming evident that the metric is now digital. Sure, billboard advertisements and out of home campaigns still have a place. But think about where you see them… probably on LinkedIn? Well here’s the thing. A lot of ‘traditional PR’ is actually just a ploy for social media attention, measured on likes, shares and brand visibility. They’re great metrics, but likes don’t pay the bills.
Instead, digital PR has emerged as a powerful and integral tool for businesses looking to make an impactful impression in today's crowded media landscape while genuinely benefitting your website and providing dominance in a competitive Google-influenced landscape.
So, is traditional PR truly dead? Join us as we uncover the strategies and tactics that are reshaping the industry. It's time to embrace the digital revolution and adapt to the new rules of engagement.
The evolution of PR: From traditional to digital
Public relations has come a long way since its inception. In the early days, traditional PR relied heavily on traditional media outlets such as print, television, and radio to disseminate messages and shape public opinion. PR professionals would use press releases, media pitches, and press conferences to generate media coverage and build relationships with journalists.
However, with the internet came technicalities and social media. This could be summarised very broadly (and perhaps crassly) as digital marketing. Basically, PR has undergone a significant transformation. The traditional methods of PR are now being overshadowed by more dynamic and interactive approaches that strategically blend traditional PR with analytics and insight to produce results that deliver more than just a nice press clipping. Don’t get us wrong though; press clippings are still very much a part of things… they’re just the ‘start’ of a result as opposed to the ‘end’.
The challenges faced by traditional PR
Traditional PR strategies, while still effective, face numerous challenges in today's digital age. The main one is the insight into organic SEO. With the rise of link building, many traditional agencies lack the accuracy and insight to drive meaningful traffic to a site continuously through a targeted keyword and link building strategy.
Another challenge faced by traditional PR is the lack of real-time feedback and measurement. With traditional media, it's often difficult to gauge the impact and effectiveness of PR campaigns. PR professionals would have to rely on circulation numbers, advertising value equivalent (AVE), or anecdotal evidence to determine the reach and success of their efforts. This lack of data-driven insights makes it challenging to refine and optimise PR strategies for maximum impact.
The rise of digital PR
Digital PR has emerged as a powerful and integral tool for businesses looking to make an impactful impression in today's crowded media landscape. Digital PR leverages online platforms, social media, content creation, and influencer marketing to create engaging and interactive campaigns that resonate with target audiences while most critically, improving the organic SEO performance of a brand.
Through data-driven insights and advanced targeting options, digital PR professionals can identify and engage with their ideal audience through specific keyword targeting to ensure that customers are being converted and that website traffic is meaningful.
Furthermore, digital PR allows for real-time feedback and measurement. With the abundance of analytics and tracking tools available, PR professionals can monitor the performance of their campaigns in real-time, allowing them to make adjustments and optimise their strategies for better results. This data-driven approach enables digital PR professionals to demonstrate the value and impact of their efforts to clients in a way that traditional PR doesn’t.
Benefits of digital PR
Let’s say you sell rhubarb-flavoured gin. You’re a new business in a crowded market, but also know that everyone who tries your product absolutely loves it. Trouble is, not enough people know it. You might think, ‘I need to do some PR for my product’, and you’d be absolutely right to think that! However, how do you know what is going to genuinely convert your gin into revenue?
Well, if we look at a competitor and see that they’re ranking #1 on Google for ‘rhubarb flavoured gin’, then suddenly we’re in the realm of digital PR. We want to get your website (which should be absolutely beautiful, by the way) to that coveted #1 spot.
In this example, we run a link-driven media campaign that is supplemented with keyword targeted on-site content and react accordingly to success. It’s not easy, but we believe that even getting in the top 10 results will drive more traffic and sales to your site than simply putting up a billboard.
So, from this we know that digital PR gets you the following:
Views and visibility (just like traditional PR)
Organic SEO benefits
Awareness to a specific and targeted customer
A clearer return on investment (ROI)
Belief and trust in a genuinely valuable PR process
The downside? It doesn’t happen overnight.
Digital PR is a hugely valuable service, but it’s comparable to the ethos of exercise. Do one work out, and you’ll feel good. You’ll get no long term gains, but you’ll probably feel good for the rest of the day. However, work out for a year and you’ll be a completely different person who is stronger, healthier and better. Digital PR works the same way. Have trust in the process, because it works.
Digital PR strategies for success
To succeed in the digital PR landscape, PR professionals need to adopt a strategic and holistic approach. Here are some key strategies to consider:
Identify and understand your target audience
Start by conducting thorough research to identify your target audience's demographics, interests, and online behaviour. This knowledge will help you tailor your messaging and choose the most effective platforms and channels to reach your audience.
Create a keyword strategy
This is arguably the most important element of successful and impactful digital PR. Essentially, a keyword strategy will tell you the average monthly search volume for a range of relevant keywords. It is a crucial step in securing tangible results.
Shortlist publications for link building
To get the most out of digital PR, link building is essential. The first step in securing quality links that move the needle is to shortlist the publications that you would most like to be featured in. There are rules though.
They have to be relevant and they have to be quality. For instance, shortlisting the BBC, New York Times, and the Financial Times is all well and good, but they are also publications that would feature on every other business' list around the world. Relevant, industry-focussed and customer-centric publications and blogs are what we’re after here.
Be ready to react
Yep, digital PR (like any form of marketing), is not a silver bullet with no issues. It’s a process of trying, learning, reacting, pivoting, and so much more. But that’s why you get an agency to do it!
We use analytics and tracking tools to monitor the performance of your digital PR campaigns so that as soon as we see an opportunity, we can go after it with precision and accuracy. We measure key metrics such as overall rank, total website traffic, technical SEO metrics, lead generation, and conversions. We then use this data to optimise your strategies and demonstrate the impact of our efforts.
Influencer marketing has become a vital component of digital PR. Identify key influencers in your industry who align with your brand values and target audience. Collaborate with influencers to create authentic and engaging content that resonates with their followers.
Just to clear something up though, organic SEO does not influence social media, nor does social media influence organic SEO. They do play into each other (something popular on social media often finds its way onto Google), but they are not part of the same objective.
We love influencers because while we look after on-site and off-site SEO, influencers will be hyping your brand on a completely separate platform so that your business is firing on all cylinders. Total internet presence!
The future of PR: Embracing digital
As we navigate through the evolving PR landscape, it's clear that traditional PR alone is no longer sufficient to captivate and engage audiences. The digital revolution has reshaped the way we consume information, interact with brands, and make purchasing decisions. To thrive in this new era, PR professionals must embrace the digital age and adapt their strategies to meet the demands of the modern world.
Digital PR offers a range of opportunities and advantages that traditional PR simply cannot match. By leveraging online platforms, social media, influencer collaborations, and data-driven insights, PR professionals can create engaging, targeted, and measurable campaigns that resonate with their audience.
However, it's important to note that traditional PR still has its place. While the landscape may have changed, traditional media outlets still hold influence and credibility. The key is to strike a balance between traditional and digital PR, leveraging the strengths of both to create comprehensive and impactful campaigns.
In conclusion, traditional PR may not be entirely dead, but its dominance is undoubtedly waning. The future of PR lies in the hands of those who are willing to embrace the digital revolution, adapt to the new rules of engagement, and harness the power of digital platforms to create meaningful connections with their target audience. It's time to leave behind the old ways and embark on a new era of PR that is both innovative and effective.
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