The first public relations agency was formed in Boston, in 1900. It was called the Publicity Bureau, and it sparked a new service for businesses based on communicating strategic messaging between a company and it’s target audience via the press.
A lot has changed since the early days. Since 1900 we’ve seen the first era of public relations, or traditional PR, build up around print media, radio, television, and event planning.
We’ve also seen the second era of public relations, or modern PR, emerge over the last 15-20 years as media and communications became digitized. Many traditional press agencies were dis-intermediated by modern PR, a web-first approach to reputation management lead by smaller, more tech-savvy agencies that were able to innovate industry standards and adapt communication strategies to the digital world faster than many traditional PR agencies could keep up with.
While both traditional and modern PR are engaged in building relationships with media and landing placements, they differ in terms of the platforms they target and the processes they apply. Let’s explore these differences, starting with a look backward.
Traditional PR covers every non-digital print medium. This includes press release distribution and outreach targeted at newspaper, magazine, radio, and television. Press agents involved in traditional PR also organize trade shows or conferences and coordinate sponsorship opportunities to promote brand awareness. In fact, brand awareness is the primary upside to going the traditional press route. The downsides, however, include long lead times and an inability to accurately track performance.
When Is Traditional PR a Good Idea?
For startups or SMEs, traditional PR is best used as a resource to help organize and coordinate trade shows, conferences, and other public events for the company. Meanwhile, for small and medium-sized businesses looking to market in a specific area, hiring a traditional PR agency to promote the company in prominent local newspapers, magazines, and on the radio, is a sound marketing strategy.
Modern PR covers every communication platform pertaining to the web. They are distinct marketplaces and involve different standards, processes, costs, and benefits. On the one hand, digital PR specialists will build relationships with journalists and editors of digital media platforms by reaching out via online platforms and creating a professional network quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, digital PR is integrated within the sphere of digital marketing strategies like search engine optimization, backlinking, guest posting for thought leadership, or influencer marketing. The proliferation of digital channels and the ability to set and measure specific targeted goals for a campaign make it easier for business owners to recognize the impact press has on their digital reputation.
When is Modern PR a Good Idea?
Digital PR is a must for any business that is launching a new product or service. As a vital component of any marketing campaign, digital PR specialists take care of reputation building – in the form of guest blogging placements designed to promote thought leadership for a key leader within the company – while simultaneously seeking placements in prominent media outlets that make the most sense for the company.
Digital Media is the Present and the Future
Traditional PR remains the go-to approach for any local print or radio outreach you want for your business. Digital PR, meanwhile, is an agile and cost-effective way to promote a business across multiple web-channels and audience segments at the same time. This kind of orchestration was not possible in the age of print and exemplifies why and how digital media is the bedrock of public relations today and in the future.
David is the Founder and Director of article-writing.co, the fastest-growing content creation agency in North America. He has transformed companies by offering high-quality content that has impacted their SEO ranking, revitalized websites with engaging and industry-relevant blogs and website copy, and championed successful email campaign copy.