The traditional still has a vital comms role in the digital age

We've seen significant changes in the PR business as it stays on track with the rapidly evolving dynamics of the media industry.

We've seen significant changes in the PR business as it stays on track with the rapidly evolving dynamics of the media industry.

In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift resulting in a new crop of digital firms that focus solely on new media platforms. While new media's explosion makes this a viable model, it's too often an insular approach that doesn't consider the full spectrum of the media landscape. And although the business of connecting with target audiences is clearly changing in the digital age, the foundation of a successful communications program remains the same. The best campaigns integrate mainstream and new media, with an eye toward maximizing news and bouncing across both platforms.

In today's environment, digital should be a major part of any campaign. The implementation of new media is critical to reach the right audiences - at scale and in real time - in creative and compelling ways. However, emphasizing the need for so-called "traditional" media is equally vital.

Think about this: a New York Times story has never had as much impact as it does today. By the time it is linked to on Twitter, discussed on blogs, and shared on Facebook, the reach has far exceeded the stated circulation. As underscored in The Economist's December 16 article on the history of the PR industry, even most social media influencers "still get their basic information from old-fashioned news providers, as do most powerful and influential people."

The interplay between traditional and digital also allows us to be more strategic in how we roll out a campaign. While the long-established "big bang" route still works, securing a major national story followed by the trickle down to social media channels, it's just as viable - and often more appropriate - to grow a story at a grassroots level through YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook, and then leverage that buzz into coverage by mainstream outlets.

The integration of traditional and digital maximizes the range of audiences engaged with our clients and capitalizes on the rapidly multiplying opportunities to tell their stories on a national stage.

This new era in PR affords us more options than ever to achieve truly meaningful results for clients. New media is another tool in our cache. Success or failure stems from how these tools are used. Great ideas, superior access, and smart, strategic thinking should remain the hallmark for success, regardless of platform. 

Sean Cassidy is president of DKC.

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