The Continued Value of Digital PR and Traditional PR in an Ever-Changing Landscape

In today’s world, where social media, blogs, and online news outlets are the go-to sources for information, public relations (PR) has evolved significantly. At Wimbart, we have also had to diversify our service offerings over almost a decade, as the PR landscape evolved and grow. We have led strategic communications, media and public relations for over 100 of the most dynamic start-ups and growth-stage companies, public bodies and investment platforms in Africa. After these many years of operations, we find that digital and traditional PR remain two important strategies required to communicate and promote a client’s message.

But what are the differences between these two approaches, and why are they both valuable in the PR industry?

Digital PR is all about using digital channels such as social media, blogs, and online news outlets to promote a message or brand. Traditional PR, on the other hand, is centred around using traditional media outlets such as television, radio, and newspapers to communicate a message.

One of the main differences between digital and traditional PR is the speed at which information is disseminated. Digital PR can reach a wider audience at a faster pace than traditional PR. For example, a tweet from a celebrity can be seen by millions of people within minutes of being posted, while a newspaper article may take a day or more to be printed and distributed. This speed and reach is what makes digital PR so attractive to brands and businesses.

However, traditional PR still has an important role to play in the PR industry. While digital PR may be faster, traditional PR is often seen as more credible. Traditional PR is still relevant because many people still trust established media outlets more than online platforms. A mention in a well-respected newspaper or on a well-known television news program can carry a lot of weight and lend credibility to a message or brand. A study in one of Wimbart’s focus countries, Kenya, had actually found that television remained the most trusted source of information, closely followed by radio and newspapers.

Methods vs metrics

Another key difference between digital and traditional PR is the way in which they are measured. Digital PR is often measured by metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, and online mentions, while traditional PR is measured by metrics such as media impressions and advertising value equivalency [AVE]. In public relations (PR), AVE stands for “Advertising Value Equivalent.” AVE is a metric used to calculate the value of earned media coverage by comparing it to the cost of equivalent advertising space or time in a publication or through broadcast channels. 

While these metrics are important, they do not provide a complete picture of the effectiveness of a PR campaign. Many experts in the PR industry now consider AVE to be an outdated and unreliable metric. Instead, PR professionals are now using more sophisticated metrics to measure the success of their campaigns, such as share of voice, sentiment analysis, engagement rates, and web traffic.

Despite their differences, digital and traditional PR can work together to create a comprehensive PR strategy. By combining the speed and reach of digital PR with the credibility of traditional PR, PR professionals can create a balanced approach that reaches a wide audience while also building trust and credibility. Ultimately, the key to a successful PR campaign is to use both digital and traditional PR in a complementary way. This allows you to reach a wider audience and build a strong brand reputation.

Leveraging old with new

Using digital and traditional marketing together can be a great way to reach a wider audience and maximise the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Here are some tips on how to use digital and traditional marketing channels together:

  1. Identify your target audience: Before you start planning your marketing and public relations campaigns, it’s important to understand your target audience and their preferences. This will help you decide which channels to focus on and what type of content to create.
  2. Integrate your branding: Make sure your branding is consistent across all channels. This includes your visuals and writing style, which entail will help customers recognise your brand and build trust in your business.
  3. Use digital to enhance traditional efforts: Digital marketing can be used to amplify the reach of your traditional marketing efforts. For example, you can use social media to promote your print ads or use email marketing to follow up with customers who received direct mail.
  4. Use traditional to drive online engagement: Traditional marketing channels can be used to drive customers to your digital channels. For example, you can include your website or social media handles on your business cards or in your radio ads.
  5. Measure your results: Track your marketing efforts across all channels to understand what’s working and what’s not. This will help you optimise your campaigns and make informed decisions about future marketing investments.

The PR industry is constantly evolving, and it is important for businesses to adapt to the changing landscape. By utilising both digital PR and traditional PR, businesses can take advantage of the strengths of each and create a comprehensive PR strategy that effectively reaches their target audience.

Using digital and traditional marketing together requires a well-planned strategy and a deep understanding of your target audience. By integrating both channels, you can create a more cohesive and effective communications plan that helps you achieve your business goals.