Why traditional PR skills are still important in our digital age

You cannot help but notice it, the word “Digital” is increasingly becoming a prefix to “PR”, and as the scale and disruptive reach of social media and digital marketing channels grow and grow I am often asked if traditional PR skills are still important?

I think they are - both for internal teams and also for agencies.

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There is no denying that the world of PR has changed.  Much has been written and said about the death of the press release and media relations are increasingly confined to generating online content on third party websites (good for improving search engine rankings).  The media is just one of the many channels PR professionals use to share the content they create about organisations. However, public perceptions about the sole aim of PR being to get their clients into (or keep them out of) the media are mistaken.  Our aim is to help organisations tell their story and to listen to how their audience responds to it, so that we can help them improve their reputation.

Our core PR skill is still storytelling; creating compelling content for relevant audiences. The process for sharing those stories, and evaluating which are successful, has definitely become more sophisticated in this digital age, it is still as valid as ever.  However, if PR professionals want to continue helping organisations share their story effectively, we need to understand and work with our digital colleagues who understand the newer channels and which are the right ones for reaching their audience.

It might take us some time, but I believe there is increasing mutual appreciation of the benefits of working together.  Here are a few of my recent takeaways from considering the combination of traditional and digital PR capabilities:

  • Social networks take up the most online time (more than news and magazine websites)
  • Doing social media well can have a positive impact on share price
  • Companies are more aware than ever of the need for reputation management
  • Agency model needs to change to reflect the integration of traditional PR, digital and SEO
  • Getting noticed online is easier if your organisation is being talked about online - on social media, on news sites, and by influencers
  • Know your audience and how to reach them (use insights)
  • Campaigns need to work across Earned, Paid and Owned media (we have to include Paid now)
  • Consider all your competitors for the social space - it's better to look horizontally than vertically to see who is performing well
  • Film / Video is a growth area - if you can provide useful and entertaining content for YouTube, you should!
  • Create 100% social content - don't divert your audience, add to their social experience
  • Create content that is useful and entertaining at the very least - and make it remarkable if you can!

Is your organisation bringing its traditional PR skills into the digital age?

-- Helen Kitchen, an independent PR consultant helping SMEs find the right voice, stories and platforms to connect with the people that matter

A version of this article was first published on LinkedIn