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The current state of public relations in America


How your brand can benefit from a digital PR campaign


The best strategy for your U.S. digital PR campaign


Conclusion: Should your brand transition from traditional to digital PR




Heritage and experience in the digital PR industry



It’s no secret that the American marketing industry differs from that in the UK, with a considerable focus on traditional media rather than its digital counterpart. While digital PR, a subcategory of digital marketing, has become an established factor in the United Kingdom in accordance with increased digital media consumption, the same cannot be said for the nation across the Atlantic.

While continuously building and expanding on our digital PR experience in America, we’ve encountered instances where digital PR has not been a well-known practice for brands. This could be due to different factors, such as reduced trust in the media, or digital PR simply not yet being a prominent factor in American marketing practices compared to implementations of, for example, content marketing or paid media.

As a digital agency in a dynamic industry, we’ve questioned why some brands are hesitant about transitioning from traditional PR to digital in America.

Looking into factors such as trust, the digital landscape, and Americans’ media consumption, we’ve set out to answer why it’s beneficial for brands to use digital PR as a form of marketing, while maintaining credibility and increasing brand awareness.

Are brands that refuse digital PR losing out on new customers, brand awareness and visibility in a world increasingly turning digital? Most likely, yes.

With data revealing Americans’ consumer behavior, brands are reminded that most generations are transitioning from TV and print when searching for news, products, and brands online and on social media. Missing out on digital PR and other online marketing avenues could mean neglecting your target audience and reducing visibility and brand awareness.


The current state of public relations in America

Traditional advertising remains strikingly effective across America today, by utilizing radio, TV, and print ads. This form of advertisement is a trusted source of information, with 46% of Americans still trusting commercial advertisements on TV and print according to a 2021 study by In comparison, only 38% trust ads from search engines, and even less (30%) in websites. In the same study, less than one in five (19%) said they trusted social media.

This lack of trust in online media could be a contributing factor for why many brands choose the traditional public relations route rather than digital. While the two have much in common when it comes to enhancing brand awareness and building trust among customers, there are distinct differences.


The Differences Between Traditional and Digital PR

Traditional PR is predominantly about establishing your brand, whether it be a company or a person, as a reliable source. This bracket of public relations focuses its efforts on media channels, such as TV, radio, and print. The aim is to make your brand memorable and authentic; to act as a source of information, content, or trustworthy products you’re certain will fulfil your audience’s demands.

Digital PR shares similarities with traditional PR in that its focus remains on brand awareness. The differences start to show when looking at the channels digital PR utilizes to get brands recognized, such as online news publications, social media influencers, and other digital platforms. And when digital PR is not link-building, its focus is on building relevant, top-level backlinks to your brand’s site for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.

Knowing the differences between these two avenues of public relations can help your brand determine which strategy is the most suitable. While traditional PR builds credibility through trustworthy outlets in America, there are rising concerns about the state of print newspapers and whether it’s a reliable method of marketing in the long run.


The Decline of Newspapers and Print in the U.S.

With the rise of digital and traditional papers taking their news online, America has seen a steady decline in print news, with many media companies closing. According to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, in just three years (2019-2022), over 360 print newspapers shut down for good. The same research estimated that since the mid-2000s, America has “lost more than one-fourth of its newspapers and is on track to lose a third by 2025”.2 Unfortunately some of these long-established print newspapers might not be able to afford the digital shift.

However, with so many print newspapers closing, would a shift from traditional to digital PR mean a higher success rate for brands? Not all newspapers will close, but the demand for online content is on the rise. In fact, in 2020, the world saw content consumption doubling due to lockdowns and the pandemic, according to Forbes.3

This means that transitioning from traditional to digital could potentially increase your brand awareness and expose your brand to new customers. By exploring channels within digital PR, such as digital newspapers or social media platforms, you can reach new audiences that might not have previously engaged with your brand.


The Generational Shift in Content Consumerism

The generations most interested in reading printed newspapers are baby boomers (1946-1964).4 Surprisingly, Gen X (1966-1982) are big digital consumers, and were the generation that saw the biggest increase in media consumption during the 2020-2022 pandemic.5 If your brand is attempting to reach this specific generation through traditional PR (e.g., TV, radio, or print), you might want to reconsider your strategic approach.

Half (50%) of Gen-Zers use social media as a source of daily news according to a study by in 20226, while only 4% could say the same about national newspapers, and 5% for local newspapers. This suggest that, if brands refuse to explore digital options in their marketing strategy, that they risk losing out on the younger generations. Millennials, too, consume most of their news from social media (45%), streaming services (32%) and online news sites (17%).7

With the generational shift from traditional media (TV, radio, and print) to digital media (digital newspapers, social media, streaming services, and podcasts), brands should explore new avenues to appeal to a wider audience, and digital PR is one way to utilize the virtual world while still maintaining the old traditions of public relations.


Understanding Americans’ Consumer Behavior

Understanding your audience is the key to any PR campaign. The goal is to influence and establish yourself as a market leader in your target audience’s eyes, which is why looking at your target audience’s consumer behavior is vital.

And studies and experience show that Americans behave and consume stories differently than other English-speaking territories. Data from GWI8 revealed that 39% of Americans worry about how companies use their personal data online. That’s nearly two in five Americans who are nervous about their safety online.

For streaming services, 62% of Americans have watched Netflix at some point in the last month, over half (51%) have watched YouTube and 42% have clicked on Amazon Prime Video to stream a show or a film.

In terms of what media Americans consume, over 9 in 10 (92%) have watched live TV or a TV channel in the past month. For the rest of the world, it’s 88%. Over half (58%) of Americans spend time at least once a day on Meta (Facebook), 42% are on Instagram, 24% scroll TikTok and 22% send and view photos from friends and family on Snapchat.

The GWI study also revealed that 24% of Americans actually follow companies and brands they actively purchase from on social media, and 19% follow companies and brands they’re interested in purchasing from in the future.

Having understood your audience, it’s easier to determine which digital marketing avenue you wish to proceed with, but there are some key factors to make note of.


Digital PR versus Content Marketing

There are mentions in the digital PR world that the term ‘digital PR’ does not yet exist in the American market. Some insist that instead of calling it digital or online PR, the term Content Marketing should be used instead. But whilst Content Marketing can remind us of digital PR, the term digital PR does exist, especially the term public relations.

Some agencies choose to strip back on ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ and simply call it ‘public relations’, influenced by SEO and content strategies, (which is what digital PR is all about). Simultaneously, they might switch between public relations, website traffic* and link building.

*Traffic is the number of visitors that click to your site. Driving traffic to your site is one aspect of digital PR, where we increase traffic to enhance brand awareness.

Content Marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as “a marketing technique tailored towards creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”9.

Digital public relations, on the other hand, is defined by the Digital Marketing Institute as “a strategy used to increase awareness of your brand using online methods. In many ways, it’s similar to traditional PR, but it offers the opportunity to reach a much broader audience that can’t be reached with only offline methods.”10.

While PR shares similarities with content marketing such as producing relevant content, public relations focuses primarily on the brand, rather than customer profit. This is an important distinction to remember when you develop marketing strategies, as they have two different outcomes.

Public Relations = increases brand awareness

Content Marketing = drives profit through customer action

Some of America’s top agencies still maintain a strong interest in creating a picture-perfect image of your brand through the means of digital PR. They’ve kept the beliefs of traditional PR and inserted it into the digital counterpart. This adapted approach offers a new way of looking at the digitalization of the American marketing industry, taking bits and pieces of previous work and inserting them into an adapted, digitized method. Perhaps that is the path to digitizing the American marketing industry and transitioning from traditional to digital PR?



While Digital PR can be used on its own, it usually achieves better results in collaboration with SEO and Content Writing. In addition to this, Digital PR can utilize Social Media Marketing in their strategy to reach a wider audience through social media channels. Digital PR on its own can help your brand:

Public relations allow a brand to connect with its audience and customer base, building and establishing credibility in a market. Building a brand into an expert in their field allows your business to develop trust and respect among customers and other brands alike. According to a study by the GWI, 67% of Americans want their brands to be reliable and 48% claimed they need the brand to be authentic11.

Digital PR is the perfect opportunity to show your strengths, achievements, and your mission as a company. For example, finance companies can offer advice, and become an expert in their field so that people recognize them as a market leader.

While Digital PR can be used on its own, it usually achieves better results in collaboration with SEO and Content Writing. In addition to this, Digital PR can utilize Social Media Marketing in their strategy to reach a wider audience through social media channels. Digital PR on its own can help your brand:

Digital PR has the power to make you a market leader, promoting your brand and its message across multiple platforms. Working closely with other teams, such as paid media, SEO, and content marketing allows you to get your message out to a variety of platforms.

Digital PR can get your brand recognized, but in combination with other marketing practices, such as SEO and content writing, you can establish yourself as a market leader.

Digital PR in Combination with SEO and Content Strategy

The purpose of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to improve your website and increase your visibility on the SERP (search engine results page). In essence, this SEO practice is designed to make you rank higher on Google, preferably on the first page so that you’ve got increased chances of people clicking on your website for information or to purchase a service or product.

Relying on SEO and Content for your digital PR strategy can help your brand find relevant keywords you can use in your content that can increase your brand’s chances of ranking highly on the SERP.

SEO and Content can also offer target niches or topics for your digital PR campaigns, which are relevant to your brand and can build credibility. Content can help your digital PR campaign by supporting relevant and educational blogs and other forms of content. This, in turn, builds trust and brand visibility.

Developing a digital PR strategy with the influence of SEO and Content can, therefore, increase brand awareness by ranking higher on the SERP. They can help nail your press release with relevant keywords and build trust and relevant, informative content, establishing your brand as a market leader within your field.


Digital PR in Combination with Social Media Marketing

Digital PR can yield unlimited possibilities if you’ve got the budget and the means to create campaigns which are creative, purpose-driven, and insightful. One way to enhance your PR campaign strategy is

This avenue of marketing can open many doors in terms of reach, increased brand awareness, and engagements on different platforms that can drive traffic to your site. A social media team can provide a variety of insights that SEO and Content don’t have access to.

Working cross-channel with a social media team can also increase your chances of backlink success by evaluating and predicting upcoming trends. They scour platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Meta every day looking for emerging trends.

Your digital PR campaign can benefit from a variety of platforms to increase visibility. You’re able to engage more with your intended audience than through press releases sent to national and regional journalists. You will also be able to access a variety of data and other insights that have not previously been available to you from a mere digital PR perspective.


Collaborating with Paid Media to Enhance your Digital PR Strategy

Paid Media is one of the most well-informed avenues of digital marketing, harboring enormous amounts of data that can benefit your digital PR strategy and campaign. Paid Media can help you develop your media strategy and broaden your brand awareness to reach new audiences. One way they do this is by establishing where your existing customers and new customers spend time online.

While digital PR teams should focus on the SEO aspects of a strategy, Paid Media can help you build audience personas and learn as much as possible about your target audience. Creating audience personas for your strategy will not only help you decide on your target publications, but you’ll also be able to create content that suits your audience.


Utilizing digital PR in relation to other services can be truly beneficial for your brand if you’re moving from traditional marketing to digital. But how does digital PR operate in the digital media landscape? There are a few, distinct, key components that make up a successful digital PR campaign. One of them is backlinks.

The Power of a Backlink

When transitioning from traditional to digital PR, you’re in a completely new playground, one where KPIs are often measured against the number of backlinks you get from media outreach. Because you are building credibility and a brand online, brands tend to follow Google’s Ranking Factor, where backlinks are one of the top ways to gain credibility from Google.

While your brand should want backlinks, it’s not as simple as gaining coverage from any site. You want publications with high domain authority, which means the site is trusted by Google. It’s also important to distribute your stories to relevant sites. Don’t send your press release to a myriad of publications that do not write about your topic. This can sour the relationship between your brand and the journalists on the other end, resulting in missed opportunities in the future.

Domain Authority: A DA score ranges between 0-100. The higher the number, the more likely your publication is to rank on the SERP. There are platforms that track domain authority for you, such as Ahrefs and Semrush.

Examples of online publications that have high domain authority are, which has a rating of 93, and NBC, which also has 93 in domain authority. This tells Google they’re trustworthy, credible sites, and digital PRs want to land backlinks to sites like these in order for their brand to rank higher on the SERP.


Coverage, while not a link, helps bring attention to your brand and increases customer’s awareness of it online. Brand awareness is all about reaching the right audience, so a mention on the right site can sometimes be just as valuable as a link. This is because you’re gaining the attention of the right audience, which in turn builds trust and authority.

Knowing how to measure one element of your success is important in order to plan a digital PR strategy for your brand. Still, it’s paramount to fully develop a strategic plan of attack for media outreach. America is a vast country, with 50 unique states each requiring a niche media approach.



At connective3, we’ve carefully developed a solid structure for building your digital PR strategy and campaign in America. This strategy focuses on three strategic avenues: national, state-by-state, and hyperlocal.

These three strategies have proven effective in securing authoritative backlinks and media coverage, establishing brands as experts and thought leaders within their field.

The National Strategy

Our national strategy involves targeting large, influential news outlets and media platforms at a national level. These are typically widely recognized publications with broad audiences and significant domain authority.

By crafting compelling, newsworthy, and relevant stories, we aim to catch the attention of these media giants. Testing out this strategy can help you reach a wide range of audiences, especially if you send your pitch to news outlets such as The New York Times, which has over 9.7 million subscribers15.

A national study also allows you to build relationships and trust within those high authority sites, becoming a leading voice in that market and hitting a larger, more professional audience demographic.

National Strategy in Practice

Using this strategy, the U.S. team at connective3 developed a campaign for a VPN brand. Inspired by pop and cyberculture, they ranked the celebrities most associated with fake news.

For this, they determined the most searched-for celebrities online and used social listening data to find how often their names were posted alongside the phrase “fake news” from January to October 2022.

When the data had been collated, they ranked the celebrities based on the reach (number of users exposed to the posts) of these posts, including reposts. They kept the campaign on a national level, not breaking any findings down by state, but keeping it relevant to all of America.











The State-By-State Strategy

Our state-by-state strategy focuses on tailoring digital PR campaigns to individual states and their respective media outlets. While nationals provide broad exposure, state-by-state campaigns allow us to target local audiences, addressing their specific interests and concerns.

A state-by-state study allows you to expand on your data, and every state study can eventually be turned into a national one. While radio stations such as Town Square Media or Heart don’t have 80/90s domain authority, they do build authority with a local audience, resulting in gained trust.

State-by-state Strategy in Action

An example campaign run with this approach was one for an insurance company, where the team at connective3 developed an American Retirement Index. Gathering resources from the different states, such as the cost of living, crime numbers, life expectancy and average property prices, they ranked the states by the found data attributes individually and reached out to each state’s regional news to drive campaign performance.

The results were mirrored in TV placement and backlinks on websites such as ABC, Fox LA and the Miami Herald, which provided a significant boost to brand awareness.




New visitors over the campaign

The Hyperlocal Strategy

For our hyperlocal strategy, we take PR campaigns even further by zooming in on specific towns, cities, or neighbourhoods within one state, implementing this across several states simultaneously.

Hyperlocal campaigns narrow down on smaller communities at a hyper-targeted level. By creating content and stories that directly impact these local areas and communities, we aim to secure backlinks from niche media outlets and community blogs, thus building localized authority.

According to a 2022 study by the University of Oxford, more than one in four Americans pay for regional news subscriptions16. An important factor of the study to pay attention to is the generational gap in paid subscriptions of newspapers, with only 17% of the payees being under 30 years of age.

For a hyperlocal strategy, it’s important to understand your target audience. If your brand wishes to target millennials and the younger generations, it’s imperative you research the websites you want to outreach to find out which websites and platforms your target audience spends time on.

Hyperlocal Strategy in Practice

For a well-known iGaming brand, we conducted connective3’s hyperlocal approach and created a campaign focussing on the odds of spotting the supernatural. For this campaign, we analysed all reported UFO and ghost sightings across the 50 American states to reveal which states and cities are hotbeds for supernatural activity.

Being able to distinguish between the three strategic approaches can help your brand reach across America on a national, state, and local basis. While Americans subscribe to national newspapers online, breaking your campaign down into several levels, or developing campaigns depending on your brand’s desired reach and target audience, will help shape your goals and campaign outcome in the long run.

Understanding the reach of digital PR, both as a single avenue and in relation to other marketing strategies, like SEO and Paid Media can help inform your decision about whether your American brand should transition from a traditional to a digital PR strategy.


Links across the U.S.


Average DA


Over the campaign



Having read and developed a deeper understanding of how digital PR works and differs from its traditional counterpart, would the transition be worth it? Looking at key components of digital PR, we now know shifting from traditional PR to digital can broaden your reach through a multitude of online channels and platforms, such as online national and regional newspapers, niche blogs, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and more.

Digital PR can help you reach a bigger audience by adapting your strategy to suit generations who are going more virtual. It can also prove to be more cost-effective, as you don’t have to spend your budget on product placements.

The practice of digital PR is to build backlinks through earned media, meaning you never pay for backlinks. They are organically picked up by the media, which builds trust.

The digital marketing world is expanding and growing, compared to the traditional marketing route, with print newspapers shutting down, and podcasts competing with radio channels. Choosing digital PR means you’ve got a chance to rank higher on the SERP, therefore building credibility through Google, which is important while competing against other brands going digital.

Recent data tells us Americans follow brands that they wish to purchase from in the future online and on social media channels. Choosing to opt out of digital PR can neglect customers and your target audience who are actively searching for your brand online.

We know from the GWI study that the majority of Americans who watch TV and read print newspapers are Baby Boomers (1946-1964), while generations from Gen-X and onwards spend their time virtually.

If you want to target Gen-X, millennials, Gen-Z or Gen-Y, the most well-informed decision would be to reach them on platforms they are utilizing, e.g., online publications, social media such as TikTok and Instagram, and streaming services.

In conclusion, depending on your target audience, transitioning from traditional to digital PR can prove hugely beneficial for your brand. This is especially applicable to businesses with a desire to develop their brand to fit current, dynamic American consumer behavior.

In the U.S., campaigns which can be broken down by state and city perform well. Make your data and pitch unique to whom you’re reaching out to – local writers want something relevant to them.

Cameron BlackInternational PR Manager - connective3

The US is home to thousands of unique publications. Don’t be limited to news sites, explore the likes of local radio stations. There are numerous across each U.S. state, often with strong domain authorities.

Allen WhiteU.S. PR Lead - connective3

Make it personable. Remember, you’re sending the email to real people and PR is all about creating connections. Yes, you won’t be best friends with the journalists but being polite and actually putting in the extra effort will help you in the long run.

Eirini TheodoridouInternational PR Manager - connective3



  1. Trust study by in 2021: Link
  2. Northwestern University of Medill School of Journalist: Struggling Communities Hardest Hit by Decline in Local Journalism: Link
  3. com: Global Online Consumption Doubled in 2020: Link
  4. Pew Research Center: Newspapers Frace a Challenging Calculus: Link
  5. Colorado State University: Generational Media Consumption Trends: Link
  6. com: Frequency of using selected news sources among Generation Z in the United States as of 2022: Link
  7. com: Frequency of using selected news sources among millennials in the United States as of 2022: Link
  8. Global Web Index: American Consumer Insights: Link
  9. Content Marketing Institute: What is Content Marketing: Link
  10. Digital Marketing Institute: How Can Digital PR Improve a Brand’s Presence? Link
  11. Global Web Index: American Consumer Insights: Link
  12. WordStream: no follow / follow: Link
  13. Statista: Misinformation in the US: Link
  14. Google’s 2020 no follow change: Link
  15. The New York Times: The Times Added 190,000 Subscribers Last Quarter: Link
  16. University of Oxford: Digital news report: Link

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