Once upon a time, public relations (PR) only existed offline, and focused on 'real life' media such as newspapers, television, and radio. Pitches and press releases were sent by letter or done in person, and coverage was monitored by reading through newspapers and pulling physical 'press clippings'. PR is the process of generating free coverage for clients (as opposed to paid coverage or advertising). As it was hard to measure the success of a PR placement in the past, the value of PR was often compared to advertising, with many organisations measuring their effort through advertising value equivalents (AVEs) - or not measuring it at all.
With the development of the internet and the rise of digital media, along with society's decreased attention span, PR has now evolved beyond just approaching traditional media. Now, PR includes bloggers, online writers, and social media - and for those PR's interested in SEO, it also includes generating high-quality backlinks to improve Google rankings. With this evolution towards digital, there are now far many ways to measure PR success.
As a digital marketing agency, our efforts are geared towards driving high quality backlinks to clients' sites to increase their rankings on Google. To do so, we create engaging content, and then our Digital PR Specialists outreach to journalists and bloggers to feature our content, with the aim of gaining a links to client sites. So, while digital PR is a very valuable channel, traditional aspects of PR are still crucial for success. Here's why:
In the digital age, most PR pitches are executed over email - and with the surge in content, cutting through the noise can be difficult. Traditional methods such as picking up the phone or meeting a journalist in person can really increase your chances of online success as they can lead to genuine offline relationships. The better a journalist knows you, the more likely it is that they'll be receptive to your efforts.
Despite the fact that we don't work with print newspapers, traditional news outlets are still important to digital PR, as most national newspapers have websites. Traditional media publications are recognisable, have a large reach, and are often seen as credible, therefore placements on these sites can make a great digital PR campaign amazing. From an SEO standpoint, due to the credibility of these websites, they tend to have high metrics, so a backlink from a traditional news publication can help with SEO rankings too.
It's worth knowing the traditional media landscape in order to communicate your digital PR campaign effectively. Constructing a good press release with details including who, what, where, why and how - or writing an engaging pitch email with top campaign findings - are still necessary to capture the attention of a journalist. Doing this is pivotal to the success of a digital PR campaign.
While digital PR is continuously evolving and new methods and channels regularly come about as time progresses, combining both traditional and digital approaches is the best recipe for success. Embrace the new, but don't lose sight of the old.