While Everyone Marches To The Beat Of Digital Marketing - Is Traditional PR Still Worth It?
With the emerging and increasing emphasis placed on digital marketing, it can be easy to get carried away with focusing solely on the immediate measurable metrics that digital marketing provides. In fact, the very first post on this blog was titled "PR Is Dead." With the added advantage of being able to serve content to the public directly on the platforms they visit on a daily basis, many companies often funnel all of their resources into securing digital marketing, not realizing that they are leaving entire channels and audiences behind.
Traditional marketing at a glance is an intricate web of long term relationships built over the span of years between agencies, clients, and the media. While digital marketing is all about serving the most effective and measurable content combined with suggesting immediate calls to action, traditional public relations take time to foster mutually beneficial relationships between organizations (the client) and the public. Employing a unique combination of event coordination, crisis communication, reputation management, trade shows, sponsorship opportunities, and press distribution, traditional PR aims to mold and manage the brand awareness, reputation, and portrayal of it’s clients.
The biggest strength that traditional PR agencies ride on is their strong, pre-existing relationships with key players in the media. When you’ve been serving reliable content and relevant brands to your media contacts for extended periods of time, it’s not hard to leverage these connections for favorable media coverage of your clients. While none of us can escape the content we’re served while browsing Facebook or our preferred social media platforms, almost everyone has go-to media channels and publications that they trust blindly and allow to influence their decision making, even if subconsciously. After 125 years of circulation and with an incredibly loyal audience, Vogue could incite it’s readers to purchase a thousand-dollar paper bag if they spoke about it highly enough. Traditional media outlets such as magazines and newspapers and their .com counterparts have spent years cultivating their audience and have become a reputable and trusted source of content.
If we’re being frank, the public doesn’t buy from the brand that serves them the most ads on Facebook or Instagram, they float to the brands with the most relatable story. Traditional PR is essentially brand journalism, helping to create not just a brand that peddles their services to the public, but a brand that stands for something, a brand that creates a dialogue with the public and engages them beyond the exchange of dollar for product. Traditional PR will always trump digital marketing when it comes to curating and managing a brand’s image and securing its placement in the market.
What’s important to remember, however, is although all of the above is referred to as traditional public relations, it’s worth noting that traditional PR is not limited to the antics of the stone age. While it’s still referred to as traditional PR because it continues to heavily emphasize media relations and content creation for publications, the industry is not laying down and paving the way for digital marketing to take over. Its true, traditional public relations isn’t what it used to be – it’s better. We’re not going to ditch traditional PR methods for hot digital ones, we’re going to use one to enhance the other. Take SEO, for example – an important segment of digital marketing that is improved upon by traditional PR. When a major news outlet or publication mentions a brand by name or links them in a piece of writing, this boosts their credibility with Google and helps increase their search engine rankings. Even something as new and evolving as influencer marketing and blogging stands to gain from traditional PR. Your favorite style influencer or tech blogger doesn’t close their eyes and pull a random product out of a bag to purchase, review, and recommend. Chances are, whatever sphere this influencer or blogger has become a reputable source in has dozens of traditional industry specific publications that they visit to stay on top of what’s hot. Odds are, your favorite wanderlusting traveler on Instagram has a monthly subscription to Travel + Leisure, and no doubt your trusted tech wizard is up to date with the latest issue of Fast Company.
At the end of the day, many digital antics are skippable, blockable, opt-out-able and ignorable. The seed planted in your head by an effective public relations campaign, however, is something that quietly grows and fosters until you find yourself in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store, slowly reaching for one brand of yogurt you’ve never tried over another.