What’s the Difference Between Digital PR and Traditional PR?

By June 11, 2017Digital PR

Let’s take a crack at this nagging question which has been discussed often in local PR agency boardrooms in the last few years.

“Traditional PR”, in a nutshell, encompasses everything that you know about PR prior to digital coming in. This includes brand awareness, reputation management, crisis management, advocacy, and corporate messaging. The secret weapon of publicists of this “era” is their media contact list. They have longstanding relationships with desk editors and reporters for print, broadcast, and TV. It’s my contention that influencers, digital publishers, and bloggers also fall under the umbrella of traditional PR. So what makes “Digital PR”, digital?

In my view Digital PR should be analytics and KPI driven (clearly tied to a digital platform or objective). The essence of digital is effectiveness and measurability. If I were to translate this into objectives, it can be any of the following:

  • Driving affiliate link sales via Influencers, Bloggers, and Publishers
  • Search Engine brand health and monitoring
  • Social Media sentiment score improvement (which can be tied closely to crisis management)

Digital PR leverages tech and analytics to hit measurable KPIs/Targets

The secret weapon of “Digital PR” practitioners is how they are able to combine their technical expertise in affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, influencer relevance, search engine marketing, social media analytics/listening, and digital marketing with the foundational skills of “Traditional PR” in messaging and relationship building with media (regardless if digital or traditional).

Can Traditional PR people do digital? Yes they can but the learning curve is steep. Digital natives can quickly learn and understand the nuances of SEO, SEM, Social Listening, and Influencer Marketing faster because it’s the world that they grew up in. Traditional PR practitioners can learn over time but the fastest way to beef up your agency offering is by hiring fresh talent and having them mentored by either an existing digital PR practitioner OR a digital marketing professional while being guided by a Traditional PR lead.

And that’s my take on it. How about you guys? Let me know in the comments section below!

This post is part of a series of articles on “Digital PR in the Philippines”. Here’s the complete set:

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Carlo Ople

Author Carlo Ople

Founder and writer of Unlocked.ph and for full disclosure I'm also the Vice-President for Digital Marketing Strategy of PLDT/Smart, the largest telco in the Philippines. Prior to this I co-founded a digital advertising agency (DM9 Digit) which we sold to Dentsu, the largest single branded agency in the world. I also co-founded one of the biggest tech websites in the country, Unbox (unbox.ph). Views do not represent PLDT/Smart and are purely my own.

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