Digital public relations (digital PR) can be an effective way to increase brand visibility and drive more quality traffic to your website or landing page. But just what is digital PR and how does it differ from traditional PR techniques? Here’s an overview of the differences (and similarities).

What Is Digital PR?

If asked for a definition of online public relations or digital PR, you might come up with something along the lines of: ‘a PR strategy that exclusively targets online publications’. While it’s true that the focus is on online channels, digital PR is much more than this. In fact, digital PR combines elements of traditional PR, such as developing relationships with influential bloggers and website editors, with online marketing techniques, such as SEO and link building. The overall idea is to increase your brand’s visibility and credibility while promoting positive customer engagement.

Examples of digital PR in action include:

  • Gaining an authority link to your business from a quality online publication
  • Achieving a high ranking on Google for one your landing pages
  • Enjoying positive customer interaction on a social media platform

One of the key differences between digital and traditional PR techniques is that the former is more easily measurable through tools such as Google Analytics. Indeed, a digital PR campaign can be based on meeting certain KPIs (key performance indicators), such as hits, referral traffic and search engine ranking. Digital PR is also concerned with elements like keyword trends and ranking factors and the ways in which they impact brand visibility.

What Is Traditional PR?

Traditional PR promotes influence, reach and reputation management, but does so in different ways to digital PR. In the past, traditional PR focused on the print and broadcast media. However, it increasingly recognises the importance of online publications as a means of developing positive brand visibility and customer engagement.

Examples of traditional PR in action include:

  • A profile of your business published in a leading magazine
  • Distributing a press release announcing the launch of a new product
  • Sending out a review sample of a new product to influential journalists or bloggers
  • A sponsored blog post on a quality website with lots of traffic

As you can see from these examples, there’s a degree of overlap between traditional and online public relations. Certainly, the last two items on this list focus on influence and authority in the online space. However, traditional PR tends to be more direct. Rather than getting an authority link on a quality website, your PR team might pitch a guest post on a popular blog that includes a link back to your site at the end and a short profile of your business.

Another difference is that it can be harder to track numbers with many traditional PR techniques, which are more reliant on high circulation figures and readership rates. For example, finding out how many people requested your sales brochure specifically because they read that magazine profile is a lot harder than finding out how many hits you got on that authority link.

Which Is Best for Your Business?

The answer to this question depends on several different factors. While nowadays it’s impossible to ignore the power of digital marketing, that does not mean that traditional PR has become obsolete. Indeed, there continues to be great value in building your brand by reaching out to publishers and media outlets.

As we’ve discussed, online public relations techniques have more of a focus on metrics, so if you want an accurate measurement as to how successful a particular PR campaign has been, you might consider digital as your main strategy. However, successful businesses tend to take a holistic approach to their marketing activities, viewing each element as connected. So, in reality, the best marketing strategy will combine elements of both digital and traditional PR, to achieve optimum brand visibility and positive customer engagement.

Wherever you choose to take your public relations strategy, it’s important to appreciate both traditional and digital PR methods, to build a communications strategy that incorporates elements from both PR practices to differentiate your business from the competition and stay on top of reputation management. As your reach spreads, your ability to control what is being said about you diminishes. It’s also important that your PR team stays abreast of the online influencers in your sector or niche and builds fruitful relationships with any new players.