For years we’ve seen social media grow from a place to get news about our friends to a place to get news about the world.  When I think back to significant media events in the past, the Challenger explosion, 9/11, or the death of a world figure, I have vivid memories of listening to the radio, watching TV and reading the newspaper. But today, I hear most breaking news through my social networks and only then do I go to more traditional news sources – and still I’m usually flipping back and forth between my smart phone and the TV. So what does that mean for traditional media? Is there still a place for traditional PR in the online world? And what is traditional PR anyway?

I say yes, but things have definitely changed. A successful campaign should not rely on just one vehicle. It’s not about earned media vs. paid media vs. social media.  To create a successful communications program, you must have integrated tactics that are guided by a strategic plan that keeps your audience and your overall objectives in mind.

So maybe we should just throw out that term, “traditional PR” and think of it in terms of long standing communications tactics that can raise your profile and grow your business.

Here are a few PR tactics that shouldn’t be overlooked when planning your communications campaign.

1. Messaging – Communicating consistently may sound like a no brainer but the truth is it’s not always easy to do.  Here’s a test, ask your CEO, sales person and customer what you do or what you do best and see if you get the same answer.  You should, but often don’t.  You must decide early on what you want people to remember and then clearly communicate that message every time, to everyone who talks about you – that means internal and external audiences, all employees, blogs, social media posts, and in earned media.

2. Media Relations – Earned media gives you inherent credibility.  Yes, it seems to be popular for people to disparage news outlets, but the truth is that having someone else talk about your product is much more believable than talking about it yourself.  That doesn’t mean there is not a place for blogging and social media posts, but support those efforts with earned media for third party credibility.  And for the record, I don’t really buy into the negativity around the media. I’ve worked with many, many reporters around the country and not only do I find them to be inherently fair in their coverage (it’s not easy getting them to cover a client!) but I also find them to be some of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met.

3. Leadership Development – Leadership development is an often overlooked PR strategy but it works on many different levels. In a nutshell, leadership development is positioning yourself as an expert in your field. This can be done by identifying membership and/or leadership positions in pertinent organizations, finding speaking opportunities in your community or industry and offering yourself as an expert resource to the media or community.  Not only does this get your name out, but it shows that you are the best at what you do because other people want you to share your knowledge. Again, third party credibility.

This is just a start to all that can be done to create a strategic communications plan, and not everything is for everyone. Keep an eye on this blog as we look further into various tactics, strategies and discuss communications fodder.  And keep your ideas coming!


Elizabeth has 15+ years experience in Public Relations, leading local, state and national accounts. Mother, reader, writer, marketer. Read more about me here.

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