What Can Social Media Professionals Learn From Traditional PR?

Many brands and organisations now rely upon social media to carry out the bulk of their marketing and PR activities. After all, social media has many benefits over what some people would term ‘old-fashioned’ techniques, and it can be an excellent way to disseminate information and improve brand image even on a low budget.

However, social media professionals can still learn a thing or two from traditional PR practices. Here is a selection of factors that still matter for social media success.

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Captivating Headlines

Press releases may be less important these days than they were, but the basic rule that you have to grab attention in the headline is still relevant. No matter which type of social media activity you are involved in, the headline is what captures attention.

Whenever you write a status update or post something new in Facebook, ask yourself why anyone else would want to read it, especially when they have so many other options in which to invest their time. The headline will make your updates stand out from the other millions of updates it is competing against, so it still matters.

Communication Skills

Verbal and written communication skills are a fundamental skill in traditional PR, and social media professionals must also rely on them. You need to build relationships when using social media, and that means communicating regularly and relevantly. Whether forming relationships with other influencers or speaking directly to your targets, you must get your message across quickly and concisely.


Most social media activity involves the creation of content. Traditional PR involves taking an interesting angle to get noticed, and the same is true of social media content. In fact, with so much more competition, it is even more important to make your posts stand out from the crowd, so always try to take an interesting angle.


Networking has always been crucial for PR success, and that has not changed with the emergence of social media. Effective networking involves finding the right conversations to join, targeting the right influences, engaging with them and building and maintaining relationships. Without this level of networking, social media becomes a lot less effective.


Social media is all about what is happening now, but careful planning can go a long way. Just as a traditional PR agency will focus on planning stories months in advance, so too should you plan ideas for your social media updates for the weeks and months ahead. Plan for seasonal stories and content to coincide with major industry events, and make sure you are prepared.

Improve Your Social Media Strategies

For many companies, social media is the new way of carrying out their marketing and PR activities. However, social media can still learn a lot from traditional PR techniques. Make sure you still focus on the basic techniques of traditional PR and use these to improve your current social media activities. When building your marketing team or outsourcing to agencies make sure you have a mix of traditional and digital skill sets within your team – the 2 work well together and can learn from one another.

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John is a consultant from Cobb PR in Sussex, England – an agency specialising in both traditional and digital PR and marketing services for local businesses.


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