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The death of traditional PR – don’t believe the hype

Published on 02/10/15

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Over the past decade the emergence of social media and the crucial part it plays within any marketing strategy has been immense.

There is absolutely no doubting the power and effectiveness of the plethora of online media platforms and their value in any PR or marketing plan.

However, I suspect I am not the only one who gets tired of the new age digital marketers who continually attack traditional PR tactics as being obsolete, non-effective and ‘old hat’. One of the favourite targets of the new age PR practitioners is the trusty ‘ole’ traditional press release which is often labelled ‘dead n old’.

What do I say about these commentaries on the traditional PR approach? I say, and I say it loud and clear, don’t believe the hype.

Make no mistake traditional PR stands as strong today as ever and is in fact enchanced, rather than challenged, by the global rise of social media. In the wake of online technology the need for traditional PR to handle, control and drive key messages and behavioral influence is growing at a pace of knots.

For example where do bloggers find much of their material? That’s right via the traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Many blogs (and I know not all of them) are simply a rehash of stories and issues which have come to light via the traditional media.

Editorial endorsement or media air time remain one of the greatest stimulants any organisation can have. Traditional media can shape the way a business or organisation is perceived by the general public and key stakeholders. Put simply if you want the world to believe in you, make certain the independent media believes in you first. There is no doubting sanction from the independent media, whose values are trusted and respected, have great effect and power and act as a fantastic endorsement.

What’s more several recent surveys found an overwhelming majority of journalists still preferred the trusty ‘ole’ press release as the preferred method of receiving news. To add further weight to the value of traditional PR countless studies show it is actually traditional media which mostly drives online conversation. The most recent example of this was a case study into the Olympics 2012, where in-depth research and analytics showed conclusively content on social media channels were predominantly driven by PR news and tradition news resources.

The message is loud and clear, traditional PR is alive and well, and still kicking strong. However, the intention of this article is not to doubt the merits and power of social media and online PR, that would simply be foolish. All good marketers realise most promotional campaigns now need to contain a healthy mix of social media and traditional media tactics, plus various other tools, to maximise effectiveness. There is no doubting the global reach, direct interaction and immediacy of social media can enhance the traditional methods, however it does not, and is never likely to, replace it.

There is no need for divorce between social media and traditional PR, in fact in bed together they will make sweet music.