International Focus

The era of digital PR

Posté par Pascal Petitjeanil y a 4 annéespas de commentaire

In the era of « all digital everything » and the transformation of our society into bits and big data, it has become essential that the PR industry also evolves in order to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive market, as well as to change the sector’s practices and keep up with the times.

Conference, interview or social media concept with microphone and blank speech bubbles

More and more « territories » are being created in the field of communication, whose boundaries, which although historically well defined, are being shifted between various job roles. PRs, media consultants, communications directors, spokespeople, spin doctors and a whole host of experts are finding that they need to rethink the way they work while widening their knowledge and skill-set so they don’t get left behind in the Internet Age.

The communication and PR industry has for some time now been in an era of glorification and infatuation with all things digital. But has this new era rendered traditional PR practices obsolete? Sometimes wrongly considered to be outdated, traditional PR still seems to work and even allows the most arduous of PRs to maintain actual human relationships with journalists and print media… However, the concept of reciprocity between PR and PR 2.0 – aka digital PR – needs to be clarified.

Contrary to popular belief, digital PR is not meant to replace conventional PR. Digital PR rhymes with information, media, web, influencers, blogs, social networks, while the « digital sphere » rhymes with media, target, readers, prescribers and thus communication, e-reputation and… PR! There is therefore no digital PR without traditional PR, as one feeds off the other.

It is important not to oppose these practices but instead take the best of both and establish a strategy of communication and influence that delivers engaging and quality content. « Tweets », « Likes » and « shares » are now part of everyday PR along with traditional tools such as press releases, telephone follow-ups and face-to-face events. They are complementary and need to work together to achieve the desired notoriety, reputation and engagement of the end user.

In view of the different stakeholders – who have become more than influential and somewhat prescriptive – involved in social networks and the blogosphere, it is important to remember that for a « win-win » relationship and to build trust between a brand/ institution/ company and a journalist/ blogger / influential Tweeter, or the final consumer, the usual tools of PR remain necessary and essential to support a targeted digital communications strategy adapted to the intended recipient.

So yes, the PR industry must evolve in order to explore new territories and issues of influence in the same way that journalist’s methods and practices of working have changed significantly and that the arrival in recent years of new paths of information have questioned the usual process of communication and information processing.

Digital press releases, multimedia content (images, videos, etc.), netlinking, SEO, online communities and digital media, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest… as well as and above all creativity, ingenuity, vivacity and virality, become essential tools and knowledge in the everyday practice of the PR professional in an age when the immediacy of information reigns supreme.

Digital PR offers the possibility to expand the reach of traditional PR and opens the door to new communication and distribution channels, further developing brand image and reputation on the web. Note here that content, storytelling, and brand PR – in the same way that brand content works – are important in this context for not only being relevant, but also comprehensible, understandable, recognizable, unifying and binding.

A good digital PR strategy brings content to life on the web and makes it go viral, increasing both visibility and reputation. The message must therefore be thought through in a personalized, less formal way and tailored to the target audience: communities, bloggers, web journalists, as well as traditional journalists who have also invested in the web and use these multicast channels in their everyday business.

We hear a lot being said about changes in the PR profession and its practices, but such change is merely a reflection of the way society is evolving and how we consume information. The rise of digital PR? Why not … But is it not just a compliment to the PR we know already, a new way to communicate, a new form of expression? There are new frontiers that require adapting the message, tone and strategy through rethinking the approaches and codes to reach a different audience, but it is one that is just as important.

PR has never been as central to the communications challenges of brands, business and institutions, whether traditional or digital. The concept of positive and collaborative engagement has become the unifying link between these two practices, whatever the theme, target, media or interface.


Nadia Bahhar-Alves
Senior Consultant
Noir Sur Blanc Agency




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