Is traditional PR fading in the digital era?

The emergence of digital era and the evolution of internet, have dramatically revolutionised functioning across the industries. Naturally so, PR as a business has not remained untouched either. Statistics reveal that over the past few years, newspaper circulation and television viewing have reduced to a noticeable extent. Personally speaking, I feel there is still a large populace which believes in the traditional modes of news.

To address the clients’ growing demands, PR firms have had to adapt a range of new services such as technical SEO, content creation, video design, social media management. But this doesn’t lead to the conclusion that traditional PR is now redundant.

Since the beginning of mass media, an expertly created and well circulated press release has always been the primary tool for generating positive PR. While press releases are still useful, it is felt that a corporate blog, infographics, whiteboard animation videos, slide presentations and other forms of content can be complementary to press releases as a way to generate positive PR.

Visual content has become highly popular in recent years, however this still relies on traditional PR skills such as storytelling. While the tools may have changed in the digital era, the essential skills are still totally relevant.

The most vital feature of digital PR is that the results can be better quantified through the usage of exact metrics whereas in terms of television and print media only reasonable estimations about the effectiveness of a campaign can be made.

However the fact remains that digital businesses can also benefit from building an offline presence within their communities. For industries that have niche media outlets, traditional campaigns can still be extremely useful for communicating with highly-targeted demographics. It goes without saying that people tend to be more trusting of highly reputable, longstanding media outlets than of lesser known digital outlets such as non-media related blogs. They want the writing to be of high credibility coming from a credible source. Hence, traditional media continues to be effective for PR, but one must compliment the digital endeavours such as content marketing.

As PR and media go hand in hand, so does traditional PR. Traditional media will always remain a trusted source of information. When it comes to the news, there is no substitute for a factual, balanced, credible story. Nonetheless, it’s a fact that more and more people are discovering news of the day through Facebook and other social media platforms as these sites deliver information in headlines and sound bites. Most of the times, those seeking the deeper story click on links to traditional news media websites. Another fact remains that most of the people still like to go back to the traditional TV channel news.

Traditional PR is still the most credible and reliable way to go about. It has a niche space which cannot be turned away, and will stay so. As a PR pro, I would still prefer to go and meet media to discuss a storyline, and to bring out the story in the best way possible by providing authentic facts and figures rather than being in a hurry to get a story published without checking the credibility.

Having said that, we cannot keep our eyes closed to the fact that digital platform has become huge and has gained momentum and we, as PR professionals, must evolve ourselves to this fact and adapt to this need of the hour. Integration is the key to success. Digital and social platforms have opened new channels of communication, but there will always be a place for traditional PR. We must use a combination of tools to amplify clients’ messages.

Ritu Bararia
Ritu is a Corporate Communications leader, Mentor, Author, Public Relations Evangelist, Thought leader, Advisor. She has nearly two decades of working experience having spearheaded Communications, PR and Corporate Affairs with corporate brands such as Kingfisher Airlines, The Park Hotels, Bird Group.

She quit her corporate career in the beginning of 2018 to try her hand at various related things within communications space. She turned into a published author in 2020 with her maiden book ‘Little Joys of Communication’.

Currently Ritu is Senior Director at SCoRe and, Executive Director Communicators Guild – India (CGI).

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