With digital communication becoming the norm, we have moved into the headspace that ‘traditional’ PR has changed its identity.
As PRs, we have had to embrace different technologies and different channels in order to get the very best results for our clients and beat off the competition. PR has never before been so transparent and so accountable.
There has been a significant shift in PR in the last 20 years, but the upsurge of digital techniques has completely transformed the discipline. At the beginning of the ‘noughties’, there was no such thing as traditional or digital PR, it was just PR focusing predominantly on offline visibility to raise brand awareness.
Twenty years on and the PR landscape has changed more than the cast of ‘Corrie’. Some agencies still sit squarely in the traditional PR camp, focusing specifically on brand awareness, but most agencies have embraced the changes that digital PR has to offer – and their clients are reaping the benefits.
Traditionally, press releases were the most popular way to communicate a message. Although releases are still a central focus, the content has had to become far more creative and interesting to cut through the noise.
Gone are the days of media tours, which were essential if you worked outside of London – home of all the main titles and publishing houses. These tours were part of every well-planned strategy and usually ran across two days, packed with as many press meetings as possible. We would meet and greet editors, editorial assistants and freelancers on a regular basis to promote upcoming features.
There was also a time when ‘selling in’ a story was the bread and butter of any PR exec worth their salt, but with national journalists now receiving 200 pitches a day on average, they don’t have the time to take the calls. If you do by some miracle reach them, there is a good chance you are not going to find a very receptive audience for your story.
One of the roles of digital PR is to write engaging stories that journalists want to use, with the aim of getting backlinks to your client’s site that will in turn improve their SEO.
The evolution of PR has seen a massive shift in input from creative minds, where original online marketing relied heavily on technical knowledge of SEOs. With the evolution of PR and Google’s ability to understand online content, SEO and PR have now joined forces. And, as both disciplines demand the need for high-quality, relevant content, creativity has to play a much larger role.
There is no longer a rule book when it comes to getting coverage, by hook or by crook, you make your own news with the most appealing content to capture the attention of the bombarded journalist.
There was a time when Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) was our only means of measuring our effectiveness. Some agencies still use it as a metric, although technically CIPR classes it as an invalid measure.
Because PR measurement was so ambiguous in the past, brand awareness was difficult to see. Readership and circulation figures were a key KPI for traditional PR, but this has now been replaced by a new set of metrics that are much easier to quantify.
Because of its very nature of supporting SEO, there are a number of different measurement tools you can use to quantify the success of your campaigns:
PR companies managing the reputation and communications of their client through storytelling will always be important. Automation will help PRs to do their job more effectively and quickly, but the skill and creativity to think up newsworthy content and ideas is a human skill that cannot be replaced or replicated – so it looks like the role of PRs is here to stay. And although traditional PR is an older discipline, it does still have its place. But for any business looking to increase their ranking in the search engine results pages, digital PR is the clear forerunner to increase traffic and ultimately brand awareness, resulting in a happy client.