Is Traditional PR Dead?

Information Overload

We live in an age of digital everything. The average person uses their smartphone to wake up and jump online several times throughout the morning.

Many used programmed coffee pots for their first brew of the day. More people are on social media than ever before. Marketers might wonder if traditional PR is dead and a waste of resources.

There are a few drawbacks to offline marketing. Professionals in the PR industry say the biggest negative is little to no interaction with your audience. Some 25% of people feel some conventional methods can be costly and another 15% point to the fact that it’s hard to measure return on investment (ROI).

Still, methods such as newspaper, signage, radio and television put you in front of a different audience than online ads. In addition, you want to reach the same people in more than one medium, so you can start with traditional methods and then follow up online.

Do Newspaper Ads Still Work?

Opponents of newspaper ads claim that companies have to keep advertising and cite ongoing costs as a major downside. However, for those who run a local business and want to reach a broad range of people, newspapers are still a great place to advertise.

Trust is a big factor in newspaper content. In a study by NewsMediaWorks, researchers found people trust ads in printed newspapers 23% of the time, while they trusted social media in the negative range of -26%.

Businesses without strong brand name recognition should advertise in printed papers. It allows consumers to get to know the organization in a familiar environment and adds authenticity companies don’t get if only promoting a brand online.

Why Should Businesses Use Signage?

Signs in front of a brick-and-mortar store introduce a brand to the local community and bring traffic into a shop. However, signs can work for or against a company, depending on their overall design and placement.

Try to avoid fonts with thin lines, as they may be difficult to view from a distance. Script-based fonts are also difficult to read while driving past. Stick with standard-weight serif or sans serif fonts. View the sign from the same distance and angle that passersby will. Some popular fonts that work well for signage include Arial, Helvetica and Garamond.

There are many reasons for using signage. For example, a new business opens in a town and the owners put a massive grand opening sign in front of their place. The community knows they are ready for customers and they gain new clientele who are curious to see what they have to offer. Signs are also useful to direct people through the inside of a store or announce special sales.

A Communication Mix Works Best

For those who argue that traditional PR is dead, they aren’t saying you should never take out a print ad or put up a sign. Instead, they are advocating a multi-channel approach that incorporates traditional methods and digital methods into a single campaign goal. To really get through to a target audience in a time when they are inundated with advertising, businesses have to reach them through multiple means with the same message.

The human brain actually responds differently to a tangible ad than a digital one. In one study, the material shown on a card generated more activity in the brain, making it seem real to the user. It also connected better to memory than digital items did.

At the same time, it’s much harder to track how effective print advertising is. On the other hand, digital results are easily measured with clickthroughs, social media shares and conversions. The reason a mix is so effective is because marketers can try out different methods online, take them into the real world and even mesh the two by providing hashtags, QR codes, links as well as invites to come into a physical location.

Reputation Is Everything

Experts point out that a good reputation can do about 90% of the work when trying to land a sale. A firm’s reputation is easily destroyed online in a matter of hours if posts go viral. In one small town, for example, a local contractor was accused of stealing items out of a garage by the people who lived there. Within a few days, a video made the rounds that seemed incriminating.

The problem with the smear campaign was that the people living there were renters, the items belonged to the homeowner and he had given the contractor permission to go through the items and “take what he wanted” before the homeowner threw them out. Fortunately, those who knew the contractor from his work and local advertising didn’t believe a word of it and continued to hire him.

Traditional PR is a great way to establish a good reputation that counteracts any negative statements or reviews appearing online. Of course, businesses need to mind their reputations no matter where their name appears, but establishing a positive image in the first place is half the battle.

Offline Advertising Isn’t Dead

Traditional PR is far from dead. While the focus of marketing campaigns has shifted to include online promotions, savvy marketers understand that a mix of the two types is necessary to reach today’s information-overloaded consumers.