It seems like, more so lately, media relation professionals are arguing whether coverage in a traditional form is worth more than online press. Clients may say a website mention and a link is nice, but they get really excited about the reference in USA Today.

Listen up Mr. PR Company and Mr. Client: times have changed. Online results are now more important than traditional media mentions. I’m not saying that you can forget about traditional PR, no don’t get me wrong. I’m saying that online mentions are easier to achieve and have way more value in terms of rankings and social media saturation.

Why?

Not long ago our blog benefited from 2 references in some important, credited online blogs.  At the same time we also got a mention in a national rag. Daily traffic surged to thousands on our site and blog, subscription to our RSS feed increased a ton, people wanted in on the newsletter and we even generated some new business.

So take a guess which source gave us the traffic? You’re right, the online blogs, not the national rag. Why? The blogs had links to our site, the rag just had our name printed.

I am sure that the rag gave us some traffic, but I really have no way in measuring this unless people are searching for that rag in Google or come out and tell me they seen us there. On the other hand, the blogs gave us a ton of traffic. I could see where the traffic came from, I knew the unique users and how long they stayed on each page, where the exited and if they signed up. People commented on the blog and sent us emails – I can directly relate this to new business.

No one clipped the rag mention and faxed or sent it to me.

As marketers we are still sales people.  I like to say that we are “artistic weirdos” that have a job to sell. We just get to play with paint and computers to do it. And in today’s economic climate we are forced to really measure our efforts. We cannot waste budgets for clients where there is no measurable result.

Older, traditional agencies that are not getting with it are comfortable with traditional public relations because, well they read those publications. But they don’t stretch far enough to get that mention online, and the most important factor: the link. They do quick submissions to the wire or online free PR sites and those get distributed and show up. But that same release is eaten and regurgitated by many sites, and that unique content in a cool press release now becomes duplicate content. Google is not very fond of duplicate content, in fact they will discredit it.

Sorry Mr. Traditional PR Firm, we have to call you out on that bluff. There is a new reality in your business. As our clients transition their budgets more online conventional branding techniques are becoming less relevant. Links and the underground economy they harness drive consumers directly to a client’s website giving them the ability to interact, reach out and most importantly- be track-able. Not to mention help with rankings in Google, Yahoo! and MSN. (Traditional Agency Tip: clients live to be found in “the Google”)

Links, Link-baiting, and backlinks are important to a marketer’s arsenal of tools online. Getting a mention in a respectable blog or media site is great, but that link back to my client’s site- I’ll fight for that! So should your PR company or staff member.

Think about how many times in the past month you were driven online or to the phone from a magazine. Now how many times have you clicked from an email or in a article online? I’m a betting man and I’d take $100 that there is no comparison.

Traditional marketing will always have its value, however marketing is all about metrics and it is links that you really want.

Is your PR company truly doing you justice? If their not- then it’s time to give us a call.

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