While they often work toward the same goals, there are many differences between traditional and digital public relations. However, before you can understand these differences, you must first grasp what the practice of public relations is at its core. A quick Google search for, “What is public relations?”, will lead you to believe that public relations specialists are image shapers. That is true to a degree, but it is not the only thing that public relations specialists do. As an agency, we believe that the practice of PR is a two-way communication that changes perceptions and actions. It is vital to marketing campaigns, especially digital, that we use those principles to help guide us to better connect with our audiences. 

Understanding How Traditional and Digital Public Relations Coincide

Traditional public relations, habitually, consists of conventional forms of communication such as press releases, media kits, magazines, newspapers, TV news, as well as a few other vehicles in that media landscape. 

Meanwhile, digital public relations involves online methods such as social media marketing, blogging, podcasts, website content, online news resources and video content. Much like the way social media has become an ephemeral form of content that drastically evolves on a regular basis, the practice of traditional public relations, in general, is forced to adapt especially as the marketing landscape becomes more and more digital. 

Many businesses and organizations now realize that digital PR is one of the most effective ways to communicate and engage with their target audience in a timely and widespread manner. However, even with the rise of digital PR, the principles and practices of traditional PR have not been forgotten.

Weaving Traditional and Digital Public Relations Together

Traditional PR has not diminished during the upturn of digital PR in recent years. In fact, it has become largely utilized, potentially for the first time by some organizations thanks to a worldwide pandemic shutdown. Examples of traditional public relations practices are evident everywhere we turn. 

On a daily basis, you are likely to read a social media post or magazine article or hear a news anchor or social media influencer mention a product or event. As PR strategists we know that in order to get our message seen or heard it will take multiple points of outreach across many different channels. Therefore, our efforts must utilize both traditional and digital PR to successfully reach a targeted audience with the goal that they don’t just see it or hear it but take some action based upon what they’ve learned. This is known as the PESO model.

The PESO model is an integrated communications model using various channels. It is the strategic framework for outlining and obtaining measurable results while integrating four media types – paid, earned, shared and owned media. What are these individually? 

  • Paid media is boosted social media posts or sponsored content. 
  • Earned media is the most traditional form of public relations. It is truly where you “earn” the stories or mentions by reporters, bloggers or influencers. 
  • Shared media leans more towards the digital side of PR with user-generated content, retweets and reposting on Instagram stories. 
  • Owned media is the content that you own on your website or social platforms. 

By merging together these four media types your organization can strengthen its brand reputation and establish authority to become a thought leader in your industry. 

Why Traditional and Digital Public Relations Both Work

Despite the differences between traditional and digital public relations, they ultimately have the same mission, which is to share a core message, connect with your key audience and build brand awareness. 

We may be biased, but we can definitely say that traditional PR, in all its glory, will never go away. Although its tried-and-true methods have evolved over the years, tactics involving storytelling in partnership with some type of third-party mouthpiece, such as media partners, influencers or brand ambassadors continue to be valuable to consumers. The wonderful aspect of digital PR is that it works to enhance traditional PR by reaching people right where they are and in a much more targeted way. It also provides a better means of measurement, which helps to identify whether or not your outreach strategy is effective. Together, they help you cast a wider net to reach your key audience in multiple ways with messaging that coincides with their specific needs and interests. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how public relations can work to accomplish your goals, let’s connect. Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, raise sales or generate other powerful results, Ghidotti can help. Our team of dedicated PR professionals help clients develop personalized strategies to promote their brand, reach the people they want and generate measurable results. 

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