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Digital PR vs. Traditional PR: Knowing the Difference

View profile for Joanna Cunningham
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Wondering how Conscious’ digital PR service can help build your law firms image? Discover the difference between digital and traditional PR here to find out more…

When you think of PR, your mind may immediately turn to newspaper coverage in print. This coverage will include advertorials, crisis communications, press releases, and more.

This historical view of PR is understandable, considering this is how companies have sold themselves for centuries. Especially in the world of law, where traditional ways of doing things are often par for the course, traditional PR takes the crown.

That said, the online world is quickly taking over, leaving room for digital techniques in PR that arguably work harder to build a company image and SEO portfolio. The question is, what has SEO got to do with it, and how can digital PR help your law firm?

This article explains…

What is Traditional PR?

We’ve covered it a little in the intro, but we first need to get a proper definition of what constitutes “traditional” PR before going any further.

The Public Relations Society of America defines Public Relations as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics. The UK based Public Relations and Communications Association go on to specify that the leading duties include general media relations, strategy planning, strategic communication planning and reputation management.

This sort of PR has historically been focussed on the traditional forms of media including:

  • Printed newspapers and magazines
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Out of home messaging, like on public transport

The aim of this sort of PR is to get in front of the public eye. This sort of exposure may lead to short term success. Alternatively, if the PR sticks in peoples’ minds, they may seek the services later down the line. However, this is normally where the value of these traditional PR methods ends.

What is Digital PR?

In comparison, digital PR includes when you receive a mention on a blog or news site somewhere across the web, including on social media. Some examples of ways to achieve these mentions or links include:

  • Guest posts
  • Partnering with influencers to promote your brand
  • Creating linkable content on your site that generates organic links, like useful blogs and infographics
  • PR campaigns

Our previous article discusses these ways a company can improve their online presence through digital PR, and a few more, in more detail.

Busting the Misconceptions of Digital Coverage

There’s a common misconception that digital coverage has to be in-your-face advertising. This does of course matter in some cases. Receiving a mention in the local online paper is great, and certainly gets you in the public eye, whether this mention is linked or unlinked.

That said, this isn’t where digital PR ends. In fact, receiving more natural links on blogs and article sites that may not be salesy, or even mention your brand at all, also has its benefits. Even if there is no mention of your brand in an article, the link back to your website and keyword mention is intrinsic to building your authority in the eyes of the search engines.

For example, say you are a divorce solicitor with a really great blog about the new no-fault divorce laws, and a parenting blog has written an article covering this topic containing links to authoritative sites and research throughout. Well, a link to your site using the anchor text of “no fault divorce” in this blog will build your online authority.

It really is an ever-giving cycle of value. Having great content that ranks highly in search engines means sites like this are more likely to link to your content on their page. This shows Google that you’re a trustworthy site, so there’s more likelihood you’ll rank highly for search times like “no fault divorce”, and therefore more sites will link to you… and so on!

The purpose of these types of PR are, of course, to build an image, much like traditional PR. That said, alongside this exposure, digital PR has much more of an impact.

The Underlying Impact of Digital PR

Brand Mentions

For starters, online PR is a great way to get exposure and build a reputable image for your brand. With the online world being intrinsic to our lives, brand mentions in blogs and news articles act in a similar way to banners and ads in the real world. Getting into the minds-eye of the public is sure to bring potential new customers.

That said, it also has some SEO value. According to SABA, “search engines such as Google and Bing rank mentions higher than links because mentions indicate a brand or service is at the top of its field. A link could be used for a variety of reasons, including sponsorships, reciprocated links, and in the past, purchased links.”

Although this receives some debate within the world of SEO, the value of these mentions can’t be denied.

Link Juice

One great addition to online PR, though, that traditional PR misses is the “link juice” that digital mentions provide.

Put simply, every site has an authority measure which is determined by how many other reputable sites link to them. This is explained further in our previous article, here. So, if you receive coverage online including a link back to your site, this is gold dust.

This is especially the case if these links are relevant to the site. For example, say there is a health website that links to a medical negligence client using an anchor keyword “medical negligence claims” in an article entitled “The Most Common Surgical Mishaps of the 21st Century”. Relevancy, like this, with regards to the link placement, article title, and surrounding text is paramount to getting the optimum value from these links.

The more links like this your site receives, the more likely you are to rank higher in search engines for relevant search terms. Therefore, the more likely you are to be found by potential customers.

This is something that cannot be replicated by traditional PR, which has more of a shelf life.

At Conscious Solutions, if we notice a client has been mentioned organically in any online press site, we will send an email to the site asking for a link. In a number of cases, sites will provide a link, which has a huge impact on your site’s SEO.

SEO Value

Taking a further look at this SEO value, what exactly does this mean? Well, SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is a very real result of online PR. Not only does it obtain “link juice” from these sites, but even a brand mention in an online local paper can also help to build your search engine appearances in these local areas.

For example, if you’re a conveyancing solicitor based in Manchester, and a Manchester site mentions your company or links to you on their site, you’re much more likely to rank for search terms like:

  • Manchester conveyancing solicitor
  • Manchester property solicitor
  • Manchester conveyancer
  • Conveyancing solicitor in Manchester

Making You More Searchable

The above all result in your law firm ranking higher in the search engines for relevant search terms, and therefore being found more regularly by potential clients.

This helps to bolster any traditional PR tactics you have. After all, if a potential customer spots your public transport advert, for example, they may search your company name, or a relevant search term like “Manchester conveyancer”, and you will be more likely to appear.

Campaigns Can be More Easily Measured

Digital PR techniques provide accessible and understandable metrics in comparison to some of the more traditional methods of PR we mentioned previously. There are many ways they can be measured, including:

  • An increase in Doman Authority/Rating, which is a figure built by gaining backlinks, and is a measure of your site authority.
  • Measuring your site traffic, using a tool like Google Analytics, and seeing if it’s increased.
  • Using site analytics to discover where this traffic has come from, so you can see how successful your PR campaigns have been.
  • Using a tool like Google Search Console to assess how highly you’re ranking for certain key terms.
  • Increases in sales/clients/enquiries.

Ready to Explore the World of Digital PR?

As you can see, at Conscious, we favour the use of digital PR – including social media, PR campaigns, and seeking backlinks – to improve our clients’ SEO portfolio, brand image, and exposure online.

Digital PR certainly doesn’t follow the strict rules of direct advertising you may expect. Instead, it is a much more nuanced and technical strategy that has many benefits in terms of building brand image and improving search engine exposure.

Is digital PR for you? Email sales@conscious.co.uk for more information about how we can help you explore these techniques with us.

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