Public Relations

7 Differences Between PR Online And Traditional PR


A lot of things have changed in the Communication and Public Relations fields in recent years — from mass press releases to customized email management tools, Excel sheets to CRMs, journalists to bloggers and influencers. All of these changes stem from the evolution of an industry that never stays still, where information is available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. And if you’re not there to take part of it, you’ll certainly miss out. Traditional methods have been consumed by PR online.

This evolution has left traditional PR in its wake. And it’s precisely this new kind of PR that I’ve used as a comparison — contrasting the old with the new, revealing seven differences that shed light on the digital transformation of an industry many thought was in decline.

Profile: Traditional vs. Digital PR

Traditional PR managers — working their entire lives in a press department — hardly have any experience operating digital environments. These people raise their eyebrows and look at you funny when you talk about the importance of involving a blogger or an influencer in your communication campaign. They don’t understand the importance of the digerati to expand a campaign’s digital footprint, yet…

The other understands the importance of communicating on social networks and word of mouth — someone who is more in tune with Digital PR. They talk proudly about their experience with digital initiatives, working hard at online business and incorporating various influencers.These people tend to be bloggers themselves and are very well versed in social media etiquette. That’s right, you’re thinking about those journalists at press conferences typing away feverishly on their smartphones and constantly tweeting during the event.

The Channels

In traditional communication, mass media outlets such as press, radio and television were the main channels. Now, the supports are completely different in digital PR with blogs, social media and websites being the main sources to distribute information to connected audiences.

Fortunately, these new online channels are within everybody’s reach and make it possible for all parties to participate in the conversation — and that’s what communication is all about, isn’t it?

The Message

Before, brands communicated by talking about themselves. It was all about being introspective and showing what they were doing all the time — obnoxiously telling their story to uninterested audiences. Well, this type of approach is no longer valid. It’s not enough to talk about your brand — you have to create content and find people who will help get your content out there. Content is today’s king.

Digital PR seeks to generate quality content that influencers want to share. It’s content that talks subtly about your brand, but does not overwhelm the senses with blatant promotion. Influencers have an audience and they don’t want to lose followers by promoting content that their audience will not find valuable. Make the most out our your influencer relationships, don’t waste them with unappealing content.

PR online image


This point tackles a challenge that brands should have taken on some time ago — using the proper platforms/channels to attract attention from journalists and influencers. Adjusting your tactics to the times is essential. Before it was all about press releases and articles, but that doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, communication has to be more engaging and interactive. Otherwise, all of your effort could be for nothing. No one just reads what you post anymore, you need a dynamic plan.

Brands must understand that external communication relies on different platforms and resources such as company blogs, social media and even multimedia content for content distribution. Adapting a traditional press release to a much more visually attractive format may make the difference between success and failure.

The Digital Tools

Who hasn’t worked with a database consisting of infinite Excel spreadsheets — first names, last names, telephone numbers, emails… All your contacts stored in documents where it’s almost impossible to find the information you need, when you need it. What about the communications you’ve written and sent out to to your target audience using some form of email software? You never know who opens your emails or which relationship needs to be nurtured. These are all the “manual” tools causing communication departments to work much slower with no true insight about the impact of their actions.

With the digitalization of PR, now it’s all possible. Today we have CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools that enable us to manage all our company’s communication activity in an integrated way — they enable us to interact using email and social media, manage influencer databases and provide us with automatic reporting. Our actions can be backed up by data.

online pr dashboard

The Tone

How many times have you received an email with the phrase “we are market leaders”? I bet more than once. In the past, the brand was always referenced in the header of any communication, making it impossible to distinguish between “promotional” material and real quality content. Fortunately, things have changed a great deal. The majority of businesses have left behind this formal way of addressing their audiences and have integrated a more personal tone within their public relations campaigns. And this more “relaxed” communication is not just with clients or the general public, but also being used in the content they create with influencers through storytelling to show a more “human” side of the brand.

These PR professionals use the same message in their day-to-day and are no longer trying to make their brand appear to be more superior than others. They’ve discovered “that’s not how you win.” It’s better to show your know-how through persuasion, not claim to be better than the rest — win by example.

In order to sum up all these differences, we’ve put together an infographic that illustrates everything we’ve been talking about between traditional formats and PR online. Check it out!


traditional vs. online pr infographic


Related Content

Let's talk about it Share with us your experience and opinion on the subjects by filling the form below.

1 Response > join the discussion... “7 Differences Between PR Online And Traditional PR”

  1. Shubham Sinha

    One major difference between digital pr and traditional pr is that digital pr mainly work in the online space and are more affordable while traditional pr are usually expensive to engage.