June 11, 2015 | Kareta Johnson

Can Traditional and Digital PR Work Together?

If you’re anything like me, you still get a kick out of funny Chick-fil-A billboards or outlandish Super Bowl commercials. After all, any good marketer knows that traditional PR isn't extinct—it’s just reinventing itself.

Traditional PR is all about influencing public perception through print media, flashy launch events, radio and TV spots, etc. With the emergence of digital PR, online platforms have become every bit as important.

Digital PR can consist of blog posts, tweets, email marketing, Facebook posts, ebooks, and other forms of online content. You can use these tools to your advantage as you develop an online marketing strategy for a new product or service, as well as when your company hosts an event, conference, or launch party. Any time you're thinking about traditional PR, think about digital.

Put simply, digital PR weaves together traditional PR strategies and content marketing. If you integrate them well, your campaign will not only get customers or potential leads engaged with what you're trying to promote, but boost your company’s overall reach.

Here are my 3 favorite ways traditional and digital PR can work together:

1. Live-Tweeting Offline Events

One of the easiest and most engaging ways to bring your offline efforts into the digital world is to live-tweet events as they happen. All you need is a savvy staff member in attendance, and you can not only engage people with your tweets, but encourage others to participate with an event hashtag.

Pay attention to what's happening at the event that may interest your followers, and use this as a chance to promote your brand. Live-tweeting is all about responding to what's happening in real time with speed and accuracy.

During the Super Bowl XLVII blackout in 2013, Oreo took to Twitter and live-tweeted the event during the third quarter. They tweeted "Power Out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark." The tweet went viral and was retweeted over 15,000 times.

The brand even included an image of a solo Oreo cookie surrounded by light. How did they do it? They had a 15-person content team ready to live-tweet any Super Bowl events. Pretty clever, right? When live-tweeting make sure you leave room for @mentions and retweets!

2. Shareable Contests

The competitive side of me always enjoys a good contest. My PR side understands a competition’s motive, especially as a part of a larger campaign. PR-driven contests have been around for a long time (legendary actress Joan Crawford actually received her stage name through a contest), and they still work well.

The power of a contest is simple—who doesn’t want to win free stuff? A good contest can spread quickly online and through word of mouth, expanding your reach far beyond your current customer base. To be successful, you need a desirable prize, an engaging way to enter, and a solid promotion strategy.

As with events, using a hashtag for a contest streamlines the conversation around what's happening and helps you engage with the participants. As the conversation grows and your reach expands, more people will get interested.

One of my favorite brands, Forever 21, is big on photo contests. For their recent #AllAboutDenimContest, they asked followers to post a picture of their best denim look to Instagram, tag them @Forever21, and use the contest hashtag. In return, the winner received a year's worth of denim clothing.

Integrating PR tactics like this not only generates engagement and influences brand perception, but it can build new, long term relationships with customers. And, of course, drive sales.

3. Tying in Traditional Content

Both traditional and digital PR are all about content creation. Content helps the target audience connect with a brand, whether it's a magazine article or a blog post.

But remember, it's not an either/or situation--you can leverage an article or any kind of traditional content in digital form. Take a magazine article as an example; you could write and share a blog post about the article or even post an Instagram photo of your team celebrating with the magazine.

Today, so many traditional PR materials are made available online, including radio spots, morning show interviews, press releases, case studies, and news stories. You can easily link to or embed these in blog posts, social media posts, premium content offers, and website pages—anything that will connect your target market with materials they may not otherwise see. Plus, more content will help you earn organic traffic and higher search engine rankings, and make your marketing team very happy!

Instead of trying to figure out whether traditional or digital PR is better in a given situation, we should just intertwine them to achieve our goals. In a world of streaming press conferences, they aren't that separate anyway--so go ahead and embrace it!

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Kareta Johnson

Kareta Johnson

In her time with VIEO, Kareta began as a content marketer and moved into project management. Her fun, upbeat personality contributed a great deal to our team and always made her blog post a joy to read.

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