Digital PR vs Traditional PR: Which is Best for Your Business?

  ●   May 5, 2023 | PR
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May 5, 2023 | PR

Digital PR has taken to the spotlight over the last few years, with an increasing number of agencies offering it as a service, and more and more businesses considering whether it’s the right strategy for them. However, the rise of digital PR doesn’t necessarily mean the fall of traditional PR. We’ve delved a little deeper to take a look at both tactics and help you decide which is best for your business and will help you achieve your desired results. 

What we’re going to cover in this article: 

What are the differences between digital PR and traditional PR?

Digital PR and traditional PR are both marketing tactics with a shared goal of generating a positive image for a brand, however there are key differences between the two.

What is traditional PR?

Traditional PR is a marketing and communications tactic that has been in practice for almost as long as advertising itself has been around, starting with the print press. Traditional PR uses a range of classic advertising channels to send messaging out into the public, such as newspapers, radio, TV, billboards and even in-person stunts and events with the overall goal of improving brand awareness. 

As traditional news and media consumption has moved online in recent years, PR and other marketing methods have followed suit. 

What is digital PR?

Digital PR uses online tactics only to promote brands and information to the public, from online surveys to interactive data campaigns and thought leadership articles to dream job campaigns. In today’s day and age, where many of us spend a high percentage of our waking hours online, digital PR has the potential to reach many more people than traditional PR. Although digital PR does increase brand awareness, the main goal of it is to secure coverage with relevant and authoritative backlinks to a site, resulting in a boost in SEO performance.

Type of PRTraditional PRDigital PR
OutletsPress, radio and in-person eventsOnline publications, blogs, podcasts, social media and virtual events
RelationshipsJournalists, reporters and producersJournalists, bloggers, social media influencers and industry experts
GoalsBrand reputation and crisis managementBuilding brand awareness, generating backlinks and improving SEO
Success measuresPlacements and pick-upBacklinks, domain authority, traffic and conversions
TacticsPress releases. Interviews and original contentPress releases, videos, guest blogging, creative and data-led campaigns, stories and reactive content

What are the similarities between traditional PR and digital PR? 

Although traditional PR and digital PR are two different approaches to public relations, they can be used hand-in-hand, with many of the tactics involved being used within both. 

In both traditional PR and digital PR, communication with journalists and forming good journalist relationships is extremely important. With this, distributing press releases to journalists is present within the two tactics also, as this is how PRs send information to news outlets about a brand release, product or campaign, in order for them to cover it in their publication – whether it’s online or in print. 

Another tactic that’s used within both of these PR methods is ensuring that you have a strong understanding of your target audience, those who you want your clients to reach, but also a strong understanding of the journalists and publications that your target audience are consuming. 

Many brands benefit from using traditional PR to secure interviews for their spokespeople on relevant TV and radio shows, allowing their spokespeople to not only promote the brand, but also share their expertise on relevant topics. This is a tactic that is now used within the digital PR space, with news outlets using platforms such as Response Source or even Twitter to source experts and brands to provide expert quotes, or even to appear on a TV or radio show. 

The benefits of digital PR and traditional PR

As a whole, incorporating traditional PR, digital PR, or even a bit of both, can benefit your business massively. The one benefit that both tactics allow is an increase in brand awareness and therefore helps to increase your brand credibility. 

With both traditional PR and digital PR, once your brand, business or campaign has been covered by outlets recognised by household names, potential customers begin to put trust within your brand. 

With traditional PR creating strong brand awareness and trust, digital PR can only add to the mix in a positive way. Digital PR tactics build upon the trust that many brands have already acquired through digital PR, and will continue to form relationships with journalists and news outlets to ensure that they are gaining coverage and links to their site through these outlets. 

Digital PR doesn’t only help to increase brand awareness, it also benefits the SEO of the website alongside helping to increase website traffic, through the means of strong, relevant and authoritative backlinks. With digital PR proving to benefit SEO and further website analytics, it helps to gain attention from investors and wider teams. 

Deciding which PR tactics are best for your business

Ultimately, choosing between traditional PR or digital PR methods for your business depends on what the needs of your business are. It will be different for everyone. Some brands will benefit more from traditional PR approaches, while others benefit from digital PR approaches. 

Although both methods will increase brand awareness, traditional PR allows you to control the perception of your brand, especially through crisis communications tactics. Digital PR will increase the amount of traffic to your website, help with SEO efforts and SERP rankings, alongside potentially increasing sales for any products that you may be promoting. 

As we mentioned above, tactics from both traditional and digital PR can be combined and used together, forming an all-encompassing PR strategy for your brand.

Digital PR vs traditional PR – how can one help the other?

For many who are using digital PR tactics, it’s common for traditional PR tactics to still make their way into the mix, demonstrating how the two go perfectly well hand-in-hand. Ecommerce brands who want to increase their online presence will benefit from digital PR tactics, as these will result in an increase of relevant and authoritative backlinks. However, digital PR can also tap into traditional PR methods when ecommerce brands want to increase their product sales. 

When Black Friday, Mothers Day, and other seasonal events take place across the year, many e-commerce brands want to boost their sales or make customers aware of their special offers. In this case, PR’s will approach journalists via email to offer them product samples, in the hopes of them covering the brand and product in an upcoming article and linking to the product itself. 

How to measure the success of digital and traditional PR

As already mentioned, one of the biggest differences between digital PR and traditional PR is the actual outcome and results of activity. 

One of the main measurements of success of traditional PR methods is by looking at the amount of press cuttings that have been achieved from a campaign, or from a period of time. Looking at these press cuttings will tell you how many outlets have covered your brand or campaign. Alongside this, and to help add value to this figure, you can look into the monthly readership of these publications to put an estimated figure on the reach that you’ve gained. 

Another way of measuring success from traditional PR methods is to look at the amount of attendees after a press event, or even the amount of sign-ups (or equivalent) that you’ve had after press events have taken place.

Digital PR, as we’ve already mentioned, can massively benefit your SEO efforts, working together with your SEO activity to increase search visibility and website performance. You can measure the success of digital PR campaigns by not only looking at the amount of coverage you’ve gained, but also by looking at the amount of links, follow and nofollow, that are now pointing back to your site. 

On top of looking at the amount of links, you can also measure the success of a digital PR campaign by looking at any metric changes that have taken place. Carefully measure the DR (domain rating) and UR (URL ranking) of any pages that you’re building backlinks to, as the more relevant and authoritative sites that are linking to your page should increase the DR and UR of your target page. It can also impact your overall site ratings, too.

Further from this, with digital PR, you’re even able to see the amount of traffic and unique visitors that have visited the site through the means of a backlink, enabling you to specifically target the publications that are increasing your website’s traffic. 

How can we help your brand?

So, which method is best for you? Check out our digital PR services to find out how we can help you. 

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