Contemporary public relations has grown into new spaces and places but they wouldn’t be successful without the incorporation of those classic, traditional tactics. media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg takes a look at how going old school could benefit PR professionals and their clients.

First things first: What is the difference between traditional and digital PR? Let’s take a look:

In a previous media update article, we explained that traditional PR is described as a method that focuses on offline visibility. This includes elements such as press releases (usually for print media), the organisation of press conferences and events. Digital PR, on the other hand, is defined by its use of online channels, which includes websites, social media platforms, blogs, influencer campaigns, online news and video portals.

So, what benefit do old school PR tactics bring to the table? Let’s jump in!

1. Reaching your audience is a cinch

Traditional PR makes use of publishing houses to get a press release printed in a newspaper, magazine or to be mentioned on the radio. Although there is still a lot of debate surrounding whether or not print media is dead, there are enough stats to show us that print is not dead.

In a recent article by Insider Intelligence titled, ‘What Happens to Print During a Pandemic?’, a graph of stats surrounding ad revenue share in digital vs. print media from 2013 to 2018 is shown.

This graph clearly indicates that there has been a significant drop in print media, but still it remains dominant over digital media. This is because people are used to traditional media as a trusted and informative source.

By making use of print media, you not only reach a much bigger audience but you will also be able to send out a clear message to the masses. Print media is much more of a one way communication channel than digital is, which means that the message you want to send out will be clear, specifically targeted and more likely to be heard by its intended audience. Many times, messages will be missed on social media — thanks to the sea of content available to the users — but not so when it’s this direct.

2. It has a humanising effect

There is nothing like the classic press-drop, accompanied with a handwritten note, thanking media houses or online publications for publishing your client’s press release. Sure, an email carries some value and it is a lot faster. However, going a little old school will definitely leave more of an impact on the media houses that you work with; it will persuade a more welcoming response from the recipient, opening the door to a blossoming professional relationship.

Another important aspect to take into consideration is the fact that many people are currently working remotely due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This means that the need for human interaction has increased a lot more over the past few months. By picking up the phone and checking in on journalists before talking business will remind them that you, too, are human. It’s important to cultivate lasting networks.

Personalisation and being human is essential if you want to be a successful PR professional and, although technology connects us more than ever, focusing on simple things like handwritten notes or a casual catch will build stronger relationships with the people that you are intending to reach.

3. Increasing brand credibility

Traditional media such as TV, radio, magazines and newspapers are valued because they are seen as credible sources. This means that when a PR professional manages to publish a press release in traditional media, it carries much more value than that of a small online blog that one has heard about. Although the need for inclusivity is on the rise, consumers, brands and companies are aware of the impact that a big publication will have on their reputation. Consider The New York Times, who’s average weekday circulation in 2019 was 443 000 copies. The reach gained through such a publication is invaluable, as an incredibly high number,of people still read that printed newspaper.

Many people have said that it is much harder to track mentions of their brand and the success of a press release when it is mentioned in traditional media. But thanks to media monitoring companies such as Newsclip, tracking brand mentions and the success of campaigns and press releases are made a lot easier and effective. Such tools offer much more than just tracking opportunities.

Focusing more on getting your client’s name mentioned in traditional media instead of on many smaller online platforms will definitely increase awareness around your client’s company. It is also worth noting that being associated with a big publication gains respect and immediate trust for the reader, it much more than having a larger reach, it's about connecting with the audience.

If you are a PR pro be sure to let us know what your favourite old school PR tactics are in the comments below.

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Since we know that successful PR pros make use of both traditional and digital PR be sure to read Five digital skills every PR pro needs and start upskilling right now.
*Image courtesy of Pixabay