Proactive vs Reactive PR: How Both Enhance Digital PR

proactive vs reactive pr

Digital public relations requires a unique blend of techniques to propel your brand to success. One way to do this is to use both proactive and reactive PR methods to build high-quality links.

Each approach uses two opposing methods: one actively seeks opportunities, while the other allows leads to filter through from another resource. Both tactics have strengths and weaknesses, which makes finding the balance between each a great way to make your digital PR highly effective.

Discover the differences between proactive vs reactive PR, concrete examples of each, and how these digital PR strategies attract positive publicity and help your SEO efforts.


Understanding proactive PR

Proactive PR utilizes strategic planning and execution of communication efforts to influence an audience’s perception of a brand. This effectively helps generate positive publicity before any bad press occurs, which can increase quality backlinks, increase website traffic, and establish a brand’s overall authority on relevant subjects.

Some examples of this include positive stories that highlight a brand’s achievements, collaborative brand partnerships, studies conducted by the brand that strengthen its credibility in relevant subject matters, and other favorable instances that position the brand as an industry expert.

Utilizing proactive PR means you’ll need ample time and resources to make it a success. To better understand how it’s done, let’s examine some examples of proactive public relations from real brand campaigns.


Shrek x Crocs brand partnership


Photo from Crocs


What they did

In 2023, Shrek fans were greeted with a brand collaboration between Shrek and Crocs. The collaboration offered Shrek-themed clogs in children’s sizes, while the adult size was only available for raffle. The initiative anticipates the release of a fifth Shrek movie, with a date yet to be determined.

The PR strategy’s impact

Opening the footwear collaboration created a great opportunity to introduce the Shrek franchise to a younger audience. This campaign was covered by multiple news outlets and stirred buzz across various social media platforms. This proactive PR approach reignited the love and anticipation for an older movie franchise and got Crocs to promote more of its iconic products.


Scrub Daddy’s product innovations


Photo from Scrub Daddy


What they did

Scrub Daddy regularly releases new products, but in one innovation, they decided to collaborate with an influencer. The result is the Scrub Babies set, which was created in partnership with a TikTok-famous professional housekeeper. The product is a set of sponges that are 12.5% smaller versions of their Scrub Daddy and Scrub Mommy sponges.

The PR strategy’s impact

Today, the popular sponge brand is known for its funny personality that rides along with social media trends. This move to collaborate with an influencer who is an established voice in the topic of expert cleaning communicates that the brand listens to its audiences and loyal users.

This strategy quickly gained popularity across social media channels, where more and more people began raving about the brand’s newest release, which not only factors in the consumer’s need for a smaller sponge but also completes the brand’s sponge family.


Dove’s Real Beauty campaign in the advent of AI


Photo from Dove


What they did

For their 20th campaign year on Real Beauty, Dove took a stance on using AI for image creation. The initiative makes a powerful statement about technology that reflects society’s standards for beauty. It spotlights real women and what should be today’s realistic beauty standards. Along with this came their press release and short video, The Code, which captures their view on the beauty of real women worldwide.

The PR strategy’s impact

This initiative gained attention from multiple news outlets for its fearless approach to celebrating women and cementing the brand’s reputation as one that values natural and attainable beauty.


Understanding reactive PR

Reactive PR involves responding quickly to stories such as key events, trends, and breaking news. It allows brands to position themselves as relevant participants in news cycles. In effect, well-timed reactive publicity can attract better exposure and boost a brand’s reputation and website SEO.

This type of digital PR is especially valuable if the brand receives negative publicity or news. The key to crisis management lies in putting a positive spin on the story or gracefully handling unfortunate circumstances the brand faces.

Reactive PR must be done quickly to stay relevant and prepared. Let’s take a look at examples of reactive public relations.


Burger King’s friendly competitor suggestion


Photo from Burger King


What they did

At the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, Burger King UK took a unique approach to supporting limited operations: they encouraged customers to order from competitors. Their Twitter post named other fast-food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, and Subway as alternatives.

The PR strategy’s impact

Urging customers to opt for competitors might seem like a questionable approach at first glance. However, this move put the fast-food chain in a positive light, highlighting their compassion in a time of global panic. Because this was done on a social media platform used by many worldwide, it gained more than 100,000 engagements and got picked up by news outlets almost immediately.


Local cafes riding the wave of viral TikTok videos


Photo from Wildberrymnl


What they did

As soon as a simple chocolate pour over strawberries video went viral on TikTok in January 2024, Wildberry, a small local cafe in the Philippines, took it as a cue. The brand introduced a limited edition strawberry fondue for Valentine’s day.

The PR strategy’s impact

The new product was a fitting addition to a seasonal menu that locals loved. Many flocked to the cafe just for the enticing treat thanks to a video that had 50 million likes on TikTok. This is a great example of a well-executed strategy that chooses a topic relevant to the brand to which its audience would respond positively.


KFC apologizing for the chicken shortage


Photo from KFC


What they did

One fateful February in 2018, KFC UK faced a crisis due to the chicken shortage. The response was a truly clever and lighthearted way to diffuse the tension in a stressful situation for the brand. An image of the KFC bucket with the letters rearranged into “FCK” accompanied by a letter of apology was shared in British newspapers.

The PR strategy’s impact

While the crisis management was done in print, this witty approach to chaos was immediately shared online and captured on local TV news stations. It’s another impressive way to gracefully handle a difficult situation with humor and honesty, which can do wonders to position a brand in a positive light.


Proactive PR strategies for link-building

The key elements to a successful proactive PR strategy lie in smart planning, finding the right resources, and clearly packaging your message. These can greatly impact your SEO. Here are some strategies you can use to build quality PR links.


Guest posts and blogger outreach

Finding relevant websites and bloggers will enhance your SEO efforts. Build your list and reach out to reputable site owners with audiences who may genuinely be interested in your product or service. By offering to create guest posts for these sites, you can ensure that content accurately links back to your site.


Campaigns and promotions

Targeted campaigns and promotions are a great way to drive traffic to your site. This can in turn benefit your website’s SEO. Digital or social media campaigns are the best way to keep your brand instantly accessible to a broader audience.

However, if you’re looking to switch things up, who says you can’t follow in Burger King UK’s footsteps by having a print ad go viral online?



Partnerships or co-branding are a great way to expand your audience and tap into new markets. Collaborating with other brands or sponsoring events can lead to backlinks, improving your link profile and SEO.


Connecting with media outlets

Engaging with journalists and influencers you’ve collaborated with before to cover your brand is one of the best ways to get mentions. This results in high-quality backlinks from authoritative sites, which boosts your site’s credibility.


Reactive PR strategies for link-building

Reactive PR requires creativity, wit, and quick thinking to command attention in the best way. Keeping an eye on current events, whether it’s news or relatable trends can propel your brand forward. Sometimes, putting a little spin on bad publicity can turn a stressful or negative situation around, too.


Real-time social media engagement

Social media is an always-on platform, meaning a single post can easily grab the attention of thousands if not millions—sometimes even overnight. Staying abreast of the most relevant or relatable topics or trends seen on social platforms can very well boost visibility and attract attention to your brand and website.


Timely press releases

Issuing statements during a crisis ensures your brand’s perspective is visible. Not only will this show accountability on your part, but it can also help control the narrative and impact how your brand is perceived in search results.


Media coverage (HARO)

Say you have a list of ideal websites and niche categories where your brand has credibility in topics you can speak on. Using lead monitoring service tools like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) can be beneficial. Reporters can ask a question related to a story they are covering on the website, which allows you to pitch your answer and get the backlinks from the website and reporter you speak with.



Taking a stance on relevant news or topics with your brand’s perspective can drive traffic and backlinks to your site. The Dove Real Beauty campaign carries this approach well with regard to artificial intelligence.


Combining proactive and reactive efforts

By strategically implementing both proactive and reactive PR, organizations can effectively manage their online reputation, enhance their visibility in search results, and drive sustainable SEO growth. Some benefits you’ll be able to see include:

  • A more comprehensive strategy
    Putting the effort to conduct both proactive and reactive strategies brings a holistic approach to reputation management, subsequently impacting SEO in the process. Proactive PR establishes your brand’s image while reactive PR can nurture how your audience perceives you.
  • Detailed insights
    Regularly monitoring media coverage, search results, and social listening, you’ll gain a better understanding on your brand’s performance as a whole. This means you’ll see firsthand whether or not your target audience is responding well to your brand, content, and presence.
  • Opportunities for growth
    Analyzing data on your brand’s performance on both proactive and reactive PR efforts helps refine strategies, improve content quality, and enhance overall SEO performance.


Proactive vs reactive PR: Do they drive better results?

To get the best results on digital PR efforts, you’ll need to find the balance in proactive and reactive PR strategies. Each perspective offers many ways for your brand to create a positive reputation and enhance your SEO.

Proactive PR, for instance, can encourage your target audience to support your brand with new perspectives and offerings. Conversely, reactive PR can position your brand as relevant, agile, and capable of handling challenges.

Ready to see your SaaS brand grow with digital PR? Connect with Ethical SEO and see what opportunities we have for your business. All it takes is a message.

Scroll to Top
messente case study pop up