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Digital PR Vs Traditional PR – What’s The Difference?

There was a time when PRs only had to worry about generating coverage in the printed press, sending press releases in the post directly to the journalist with the hope of a feature in the following days National and Regional papers. 

While printed coverage is still highly valuable to clients and is very much at the forefront of priorities when it comes to delivering successful PR campaigns, there needs to be careful considerations in place if you want your campaign to perform well across digital platforms. 

What’s the difference? 

Firstly, it’s important to outline the differences in the aims and objectives of Traditional PR compared to Digital PR: 

Traditional PRPublic Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. (CIPR) 

Digital PR“Digital PR is an online marketing strategy used by businesses to increase their online presence. Digital PR agencies network with journalists, bloggers and influencers sending online press releases to gain high-quality backlinks, social media mentions and improve SEO.” (Exposure Ninja) 

Identifying your objectives

There will be instances when these will overlap and you’ll need to achieve a combination of both objectives for your campaign, however, during the ideas stage it’s vital to establish from the outset what you need to deliver for your client. Whether it be to communicate the key brand messages to a specific audience or to generate a strong backlink profile to improve the SEO of their website. 

PR for link building 

A common mistake that can be made by PRs is presuming a campaign with extremely strong credentials to produce fantastic ‘Traditional’ results will also return fantastic ‘Digital’ results. In most cases, you will need to alter your strategy slightly when tasked with delivering a PR campaign with the aim of improving your client’s digital presence.

An example of this is trying to shoehorn a very well thought out traditional PR campaign into a campaign to deliver high-quality backlinks. Over the past five years, PR has been implemented as a link building tactic as a way of increasing search rankings and traffic to your client’s website. 

Devising your campaign 

Link Building can be an extremely effective way of generating high-quality online coverage with a link to your client’s domain. When devising a PR focused link building campaign you need to consider who your main publications targets are that will provide backlinks before you start generating ideas. You can then establish the content piece you will need to produce in order to hit these targets. 

A lot of the time this will mean that the client isn’t at the forefront of the story, however as long as you have given the publication a strong enough reason to link to their website within the piece then the link will be seen as a win from a digital objectives viewpoint and will contribute to improving SEO. 

At Democracy we’re constantly amending the strategies of our link building campaigns for clients, as the ideas that worked a few years ago might not generate the same results today – it’s vitally important to stay in line with Google’s updates like we have recently seen with the introduction of No Follow 2.0 back in September. 

By Tom Crewdson – Digital Executive


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