Sage Advice from an SMG Millennial – By Alex Lauderdale, SMG Sacramento

The field of media and public relations has clearly evolved in the digital age, and for those of us who manage media and public relations campaigns, it’s time to step up our online game, and educate our clients on the value of digital PR over traditional media relations.

But first, let’s back it up.

What exactly is traditional public relations?

According to PRSA, it’s a strategic communication process that builds mutually-beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

Traditional PR includes more media coverage via television, radio and print. But let’s think about it – when was the last time you were at a coffee shop and saw someone reading a newspaper? Or when was the last time you were in the car with a friend and listening to the news on the radio? We are living in the digital age, and if you don’t have a smartphone in hand spooning you custom content from your favorite platforms, you are among a very small percentage of humans in the world. It’s now rare if you see someone reading a newspaper, or not using the apps on their smartphones to listen to or read the news.

Fun fact: The number of people who get their news from social media has surpassed the number of people who get their news from newspapers.

“For the first time since the Pew Research Center began tracking how adults in the US get their news, social media has edged out print newspapers. In a survey conducted earlier this year, 20 percent of adults said they often get news via social media while just 16 percent said the same about print newspapers.”

Don’t believe us? Read this fun article by Engadget.


Traditional public relations is still valuable depending on your target audience, and it helps with gaining credibility (which is great for repurposing online!). But digital is the latest and greatest. Check out some of the latest digital PR strategies that are trending now.

  1. Bring on new the new strategies… or people? Yep, bring on the influencers. Using your relationships with trending bloggers/influencers can increase reach and extend your messaging further than you think. Engage with influencers that have an established online presence and send them a PR kit to post on their platforms. Check out your favorite brand or product online – it is likely they have an online influencer endorsing them. And yes, many of these are paid campaigns (the horror!), but it’s how news and information are being delivered effectively and with a 100% guarantee it appears online and is targeting exactly the intended core audience.
  2. Use social media! Social media is a way to broadcast your message to your audience without having to go through a reporter or traditional news source. Create and use branded hashtags to increase your online presence and interaction. (Check out the stats of using hashtags on social media from Quick Sprout here.) Social media also gives you the opportunity to establish and maintain your “voice.” This can help you connect and engage with your target audience and clearly get your message across.
  3. The more visuals, the better. Using more images and videos will help shape and support your message to your audience. This gives the reporter (or follower if used on social media) a deeper look into what you are trying to pitch. Get creative with it, too! If you are pitching a product launch, then conduct a photoshoot specifically for press. If you’re pitching an annual event, make sure you’re sharing top notch footage from the year before.

Must-Needed Skills for Public Relations in 2020

As a PR professional in the digital age, you know the field is continuing to evolve, so maintaining and improving your PR skills will be key.

  • Stay up to date on the latest tools and trends.
  • Become a social media and analytics expert. Build your image on social media, and closely analyze which messaging and posts are performing best and resonating with your audience.
  • Become proficient at SEO. (Pro tip: Backlinking and using top performing keywords, will help with credibility, search and your online ranking.)
  • Gain basic knowledge of digital editing platforms for videos and photos. Use this guide for some of the best video editing platforms, and this guide for picture editing platforms.
  • Above all, you will need to be a creative content genius. Improve your writing skills for a variety of mediums. You need to be a creative storyteller and content creator for a multitude of platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, newsletters, press releases, blogs, etc.).

A Look Ahead to the Future of PR

More and more people are continuing to turn to online media rather than print. Just sending a press release won’t cut it anymore. Take advantage of this new age, add more visuals to your storytelling and utilize your PR pro knowledge and skills to effectively use online platforms for crisis communications, reputation management, product launches, events, awareness and so much more to really reach your target audience and hit your goals.