Digital Marketing vs. Public Relations

Kate Lobel
By Kate Lobel

When it comes to digital marketing and public relations, people are often confused by the roles that each play. While they do share many similarities, there are some key differences that set them apart.

PR has traditionally focused on generating brand awareness, changing public opinion and dealing with a crisis, whereas digital marketing has generally focused on identifying target audiences and ultimately getting them to convert. As you can see, the deliverables, metrics, and outcomes of digital marketing and PR end up being quite different. While this is true, these differences are what make them such a great complement to each other when integrated into a full marketing campaign. Outlined below are a few of the specific differences between digital marketing and PR, and how these differences allow them to serve as the perfect counterpart to each other.

Channels

One of the biggest differences between digital marketing and PR are the channels each use to achieve their objectives. Since digital marketing is solely within the online sphere, its marketing channels do not include traditional channels, instead focusing on PPC, social media, paid social, content marketing, SEO, creative and web development. Modern-day PR combines a mix of both traditional and digital channels, including online publications, print publications, and social media outlets.  

Digital Marketing and PR Cross-Channel Integration

While PR and digital marketing have different channels, when used in unison, PR can elevate digital marketing efforts and vice versa. Even though they have different deliverables, key metrics, and outcomes, they serve as a great support to one another when cross-channel integration is implemented.

Whether you are sharing an online PR placement through social media as a paid ad or working with SEO to secure quality links within online PR placements, there are numerous ways to integrate digital marketing and PR. By focusing on cross-channel integration, you bring both your digital marketing and PR efforts to the next level!

Working Together

SEO and PR

The best way to drive SEO value and domain authority is through securing high-quality links, which you can do through online PR. While SEO was not always something that fell into the realm of PR, digital marketing and PR professionals have realized the important role PR plays in helping the SEO team boost results. When PR focuses on online placements, they’re able to secure links to specific pages on client’s websites and work with SEO to decide how to position those links and ensure solid SEO value, thus increasing a client’s website domain authority. Securing coverage and links on authoritative sites is not only a great way to assist the efforts of your SEO team but also a huge win for PR in driving brand awareness.

Related: Save the Date: SEO and PR Tie The Knot

Paid Social and PR

Securing an online PR placement is a huge win, but this win can be fleeting if the article doesn’t get visibility. Thousands of articles are posted every day, meaning your online placement could quickly become a needle in a haystack.

A great way to further visibility and ensure your placement isn’t forgotten is by sharing it through social media as a landing page for ads. This drives traffic to the article discussing your brand and helps build the credibility of the brand! Instead of overwhelming your audience with overdone ads, you’re introducing a genuine testimonial. People are much more likely to respond to an outside opinion than a brand’s self-promotion. After all, brands are trying to boost sales, making them a less credible source.

Here at Power Digital Marketing, we use a tool called Sniply to drive Facebook users to a piece of secured client coverage. Sniply monitors who the audience is, how they are engaging with these links and keeps track of conversion rates. For those who don’t covert, we can later retarget those individuals with new ads, driving them deeper into the funnel and closer to converting.

PPC

Another great complement to PR is PPC. PPC ultimately helps you position your message or PR placement at the top of search engines through specific keyword targeting. When someone conducts a search with those specific keywords, this ensures they see your placement or message first. This can be helpful in growing brand awareness, increasing visibility and countering potential negative media attention.

Social Media and PR

Influencer outreach can be a tactic both for building brand awareness through social media postings from influencers, as well as creating user-generated content, which can be used as creative material for the brand’s organic social media. In addition, organic social media serves as a great way to showcase and leverage any online PR placements. This also helps to reduce audience fatigue by diversifying the content on your social media accounts, ensuring your audience stays engaged!

Content Marketing and PR

Content Marketing and PR are inherently intertwined and can drive huge success when used together. How? Through driving SEO rankings and getting more eyes on your content!

If you have great content and an excellent content strategy, you can pitch the content before it’s published as exclusives to editors, allowing you to tease out article topics. This also gives you the opportunity to give editors quotes from your content or potentially have them publish the full piece as a byline. It is important to note that if an editor does decide to publish it as a bylined article, you should not publish it on your own blog. You can write a similar piece that relates to the bylined piece and links back to it, but do not publish duplicate content.

Promoting content through PR is a huge opportunity for you to drive SEO rankings and showcase your company, so start pitching!

Related: Content, SEO, & PR: Three Peas in a Pod

Measurement and metrics

Different goals, deliverables, and outcomes mean different ways of measuring results. When it comes to PR, the focus is more awareness oriented and less ROI-driven, placing them at the top of the funnel along with content and SEO. Digital marketing channels such as social and paid social are more in the middle of the funnel, causing them to be more ROI-driven and number oriented.

To measure awareness in PR, a common metric used is unique monthly visitors (UVM) for online publications. This gives you a good idea of how many eyes are seeing your PR placements and thus how valuable certain placements are. Another way to measure results is through platforms like Google Analytics, where you can look at referral traffic, behavioral metrics and any purchases or conversions made from particular placements. This allows you to see a customer’s journey from beginning to end, showing how strong SEO, PR placements, content and more, come together to ultimately create a conversion.

When looking at the middle and bottom of the funnel channels, there are a large variety of metrics used for measurement. The most common metrics used to measure results include CPC, CPL, keyword rankings growth and ROI. Cost per click refers to how much you pay for each click in PPC marketing campaigns, thus determining whether your paid search campaign was successful or not. Cost per lead unveils the numbers of leads that paid social can attribute to retargeted ads, ultimately showing whether or not these ads were successful in helping drive sales. Keyword rankings growth shows you whether SEO was successful in increasing traffic and overall visibility and ROI evaluates the amount of return on an investment relative to that investment’s cost.

As you can see, measurement across digital marketing and PR varies widely. While the means of measuring success can be quite different, it is clear that PR and digital marketing achieve their separate goals better by working together.

Final Thoughts

PR and digital marketing are intimately linked and offer the opportunity to greatly improve upon each other’s successes. By integrating all aspects digital marketing and PR in one agency, you create a cross-channel strategy that can’t be matched. While they work well on their own, together they are unstoppable.

Kate is the director of Public Relations at Power Digital Marketing with an extenisve background in traditional media relations and digital marketing with the goal of bridging the gap between brand awareness and ROI.