You Ask, I Answer: Difference Between Digital PR and Traditional PR?

Elizabeth asks, “What’s the difference between digital PR and traditional PR?”

This is in reference to a set of techniques promoted by search engine companies to focus PR outcomes on SEO. In reality, there isn’t and shouldn’t be a difference. If you’re doing public relations well, the outcomes are the same. There shouldn’t be a difference between “digital PR” and PR.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode, Elizabeth asks, What’s the difference between digital PR and traditional PR? Alright, so this is in reference to something that search engine companies are promoting the idea of digital PR, being focused on SEO outcomes, getting inbound links to your website, getting clicks on those links, etc.

from high ranking domains.

Guys, that’s just SEO.

I mean, it’s fine if you want to rebrand as digital PR, but it’s still just SEO.

And that’s fine.

There’s nothing wrong with that, is it a vital important part of the SEO work that you do.

But PR outcomes, there’s there’s two PR outcomes, right? fundamental attention and trust, great public relations efforts, deliver attention.

And you can measure that with any way you want.

And trust, the belief in brand, a company etc.

and that it’s trustworthy and worth doing business with.

Those are the two fundamental outcomes, whether you call it digital or traditional, or online or offline, or whatever, it doesn’t matter, the outcomes are the same.

If the outcomes are not the same, then you’re not doing public relations.

Now are there.

Second, secondary effects, other outcomes that come along with that? Yes.

And that’s where things like SEO metrics come into play.

Back in the days when I worked at a PR agency, one of the benefits we promoted of good public relations was many of the SEO outcomes like inbound links, referral traffic from other websites and things like that.

But those are not the program outcomes that you’ll be aiming for.

Those are beneficial side effects.

Really, if you are pitching people for links, as opposed to pitching people for coverage, you’re not really doing PR, right, you’re doing SEO.

And that’s, again, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But don’t confuse the two.

And the reason you shouldn’t confuse the two is that SEO has a narrower scope of outcomes.

And those outcomes may not deliver the kind of results that you get from a great public relations campaign.

Getting a great link in a story is less impactful to the end user than getting a great story about your company, whether or not it has a link.

And one of the things that you measure, if you’re doing public relations measurement correctly, one of the things you’re measuring is branded search, how many people are searching for your company by name, right? How many people are searching for Trust Insights, or Christopher Penn within the realm of analytics and data, because there’s a long deceased movie actor by the same name? How many people are searching for that? Right, and I’m doing good public relations, awareness and attention and trust, then those things should increase.

And by the way, those things may or may not involve inbound links, right? If you are aware of me by name, if you are aware of my company by name, you may not need a link.

To be able to Google for me, you may just no Top of Mind, oh, I need to I need somebody to help me with Google Analytics for go and type in Christopher Penn Google Analytics and see what comes up.

Right.

That’s what great public relations does is it creates that awareness and creates that trust.

So be very careful when someone is conflating SEO outcomes with public relations outcomes.

They are different.

They are equally valuable in their own ways.

And you can use some metrics from either branch to help measure the other like for for digital PR, SEO.

Right? You can look for things like unlinked mentions, right? That’s okay.

One of the things that when we look at how Google’s algorithms work, they do things like entity recognition and entity detection within text to see like what are the words and phrases that are in a block of text that are mentioned near each other that inform the search engine about what constitutes a topic right? It doesn’t necessarily need links to do that bill schlocky over SEO by the sea has dived deep into a lot of Google’s patents on how they do entity recognition and then build a network graph of those entities to determine relevance to determine related terms.

So good doing great public relations can benefit you even if there’s no link for SEO purposes because it helps associate the topic with your brand.

If you are constantly being mentioned in the New York Times whether or not you get a link, because the New York Times is such a credible site, it helps build Google’s knowledge graph of everything relevant to that idea.

And as we talked about, you know, traditional public relations can use SEO metrics as part of the set of outcomes.

Realistically, when you’re measuring public relations, you’re looking at, you know, four or five buckets and metrics, you’re looking at referral traffic, for sure.

You’re looking at branded search, you are looking at some of the other SEO metrics as well, you are looking at attention and trust, right, so things like NPS scores can be potentially impacted by that.

And you were looking at even efficiency of campaigns, right? If you put two ads in front of a consumer, and one ad is by a brand, they recognize that one brand they don’t recognize, which is the consumer more likely to click on, right from just simple probability.

They’re more likely to click on the ad from the companies whose brand they recognize and like.

And so there are when you do public relations, well, there are a multitude of outcomes, all of which are measurable, by the way.

One of the one of the worst things I’ve seen when I worked in public relations was, you know, people making the claim you can’t measure PR, that’s not true.

I’ve said that in perhaps stronger terms back in those days, but it’s not true.

The challenge becomes establishing which measurements that you have access to which data you have access to has an actual relevant relevance or correlation to the outcome that you care about as a company.

So what’s the difference between these two things? There is no difference.

You know, if you’re doing public relations, right, you’re generating awareness, you’re generating trust? When are you measuring those things by certain outcomes? Yes, including SEO based metrics are in mostly the awareness bucket.

But things like brand organic search are in the trust bucket.

Do your measurements well use the data you have available to you? There’s so much so much you can do to measure public relations effectively.

You’ve just got to have the systems in place, how the processes in place and have the knowledge to know how those things relate to the outcomes that your business cares about.

So interesting question.

I say a whole lot more about people mixing up disciplines or moving metrics from one to the other, but I think that we’ll leave it there for now.

You got follow up questions, leave them in the comments box below.

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