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Power Digital Marketing Blog

    Samantha Wormser
    by Samantha Wormser |

    PR vs Marketing - What’s the Difference?

    Though PR and Marketing have traditionally been two different entities, the two have more recently formed a unique union in which the efforts of one bolster the efforts of the other. Traditionally, public relations has been concerned with generating brand awareness for new brands, changing public opinion, and managing crises. However, digital PR strategies have developed over the past few years and have bridged the gap between brand awareness and ROI. 

    If we take a look at how PR and Marketing have contrasted in the past, we can see that there are differences in a few of the goals for each. The main difference is that PR is a driver in knowledge of the brand, highlighting new and exciting initiatives, getting the word out and in turn driving traffic and sales, while marketing is more about getting your target audience to take action and convert. Outlined below are a few key difference between PR versus Marketing. 


    One of the main differences between Marketing and PR in a traditional sense is their target audiences. Traditional PR media pitching reaches a wider audience with the goal of increasing brand awareness and building a sound reputation, including anyone who would be interested in the product or service the brand offers and what the company is doing and even broader than that, anyone who actively reads these publications.

    Marketing is more concerned with the people who will take action and directly contribute to the business’ bottom line. While PR paves the way for awareness and brand reputation for the business, Marketing is more direct to consumer. PR strategies like influencer marketing and blogger outreach generally build awareness, while Marketing strategies like Paid Ads reach hyper-targeted audiences based on who is most likely to convert. The grey area of these audiences, however, has expanded now that PR has become an assist to many of these marketing initiatives.

    What You're Promoting

    When it comes to what you are promoting through PR versus marketing, there are a few key differences. You can directly promote a specific product through PR, but you are more likely promoting the company or brand as a whole.With marketing, you are directly promoting a product or service. Marketing professionals for Paid Search, for example, want to market specific products because it brings customers deeper into the marketing funnel. While PR is a more TOFU approach (Top Of Funnel), Paid Search is more BOFU (Bottom Of Funnel).

    Related: What TOFU Means to a Digital Marketer

    Though this is not always the case 100 percent of the time, PR is traditionally earned media, meaning there is no exchange of money. With things like sponsored posts and media buying, the game has certainly changed. However, the basic principle of public relations is that you are pitching something newsworthy.This is especially true, and remains to be true, when pitching top tier press, who typically cannot accept gifts in exchange for coverage. Marketing, however, is paid. Whether you’re dealing with paid advertisements, you’re paying for clicks and in turn visits to your client’s website.

    Using Digital PR to Enrich Marketing Efforts 

    How can we utilize traditional PR strategies and tactics to enhance our digital marketing efforts? The answer is by creating cross-channel strategies and using PR as an assist. Digital PR should not be a standalone service, and many marketing agencies are tapping into the results that PR generates across multiple digital channels.

    Whether you are leveraging your secured coverage as a landing page for advertising, or repurposing images from influencer outreach on social media, there are many opportunities to incorporate PR into a digital marketing agency.

    Digital & Traditional PR Webinar

    Leveraging marketing channels to showcase PR wins

    Paid Media:

    Online news and media is incredibly fast-paced. One day you have secured coverage for your client from traditional PR pitching, and the next day, or even hour, that piece of coverage has been buried by hundreds of other articles online. Countless hours of work go into securing coverage for your clients.

    The challenge once you’ve secured that placement is keeping it relevant and in front of the eyes of potential customers. Since there is no way to guarantee virality of any article, we need to find some way to help promote it. Using social media is one great way to do so, but have you ever thought about using your PR placement on a top tier publication for Paid Social? If you’re part of a marketing firm, you can capitalize on your client’s positive press coverage and use the coverage as a landing page for ads.

    Related: How to Write an Effective Media Pitch

    Why should you do this? Positive PR lends to the credibility of the brand. Testimonials do better in advertising then overtly pushing sales, which is why a PR hit can be used as a testimonial and is more credible than hearing from the brand itself.

    When it comes to Facebook in particular, we at Power Digital utilize a tool called Sniply. The tool allows us to utilize a Facebook ad to drive users to a piece of secured coverage discussing the client, and then generates a popup call to action email generator or a link back to the client’s website where we actually want visitors to convert. In this case, you’re getting the benefit of building trust with secured coverage on another site as well as marketing directly with a CTA.

    In addition, we can pixel the people who interacted with the Facebook ad by clicking on the ad and later retarget these people in our more branded Facebook ads, driving them deeper in the funnel. 

    Social Media

    It seems like a given that a brand should be sharing their PR wins on social media. Surprisingly, however, not everyone is doing so. Many brands are showcasing these wins on social to engage their audience, share positive reviews, and encourage their followers to make purchase decisions. Sharing on social should be a part of every post-secured coverage game plan.

    Related: How to Find the Right Instagram Influencers for Your Brand 

    What we need to keep in mind, is that sharing on social isn’t the only way to leverage this marketing channel when it comes to PR. Take these two hypothetical situations where using social media can be more than just clicking the share button. 

    You’re a new brand needing to create a cohesive brand image

    Imagine you’ve just launched your business and have a blank slate when it comes to social media. Your Instagram feed is sparse or nonexistent and you have nothing in the ways of Facebook or Twitter. How are you going to showcase your business in the light that you want, following your new branding aesthetic and guidelines? The answer is by launching blogger and social influencer campaigns and using the images from your PR placements.

    We work with hundreds of bloggers and influencers and do just that. If you target the right aesthetic and persona that aligns with your brand in each influencer, you will receive high quality images that can be posted on social media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. One thing to be weary of is copyright infringement of photos. Any time your business uses an image, permission needs to be granted beforehand in order to share these same images. 

    Related: Top 3 Digital PR Strategies to Elevate Your Outreach Game

    For the influencer, sharing their image and giving credit with a tag and mention is a great way for them to in turn receive positive PR. What I’ve experienced time and time again at Power Digital, is influencers and bloggers very eager to have their images and thoughts shared on the social channels of the brands they are working with because it’s reaching more eyes and driving more visitors to their sites or social accounts. It ends up being a “you scratch my back; I scratch yours” kind of relationship.

    You’re an existing brand wanting to rebrand yourself or modernize

    Rebranding. It happens to many brands as the marketplace of consumers evolves. Changing tones, color pallets and overall messaging does happen and it can end up being a nightmare. Many businesses hire branding agencies to give them a makeover, which involves thousands of dollars in creative, photography of products when applicable, and a dedicated team to turn the brand around.

    One way to either supplement or replace this process starts with social. Just as if you were a new business, incorporating the same PR strategy and targeting influencers and bloggers who align with your brand will generate images that your brand can post on social media. 

    Use PR to generate better marketing results  

    SEO Marketing 

    SEO is a digital marketing channel that catapults websites up the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), which results in a drastic increase in visits and conversion actions like purchasing. SEO is also another way PR and marketing work together.

    When you secure online editorial placements as part of your PR strategy, you’re also securing links. Without even thinking about it, you have the ability to directly affect the SEO of your client’s website. This is something that has just crept onto the radar of PR and marketing professionals. 

    While securing a link is not the ultimate goal of traditional PR, it does come along for the ride with many people not even seeking it when securing online placements. As a publicist, you should always ensure that the coverage you secure includes a link to your client’s website in order to drive referral traffic.

    As an SEO marketer, one of your main priorities to drive up your client’s website domain authority, which allows you to better rank on the SERP. In order to increase domain authority, you must secure relevant, quality and authoritative links back to your site. If you’re securing PR coverage on a relevant, authoritative online website, then you have the opportunity to secure an SEO link as well and help the efforts of your SEO team.

    Related: Content, SEO, and PR - Three Peas in a Pod

    One thing to note is that not all PR placements are the same. There is a difference in the value and type of link that you would get from editorial coverage versus product reviews. Google’s different algorithm updates have changed the game of how link building and PR can help or harm SEO. To learn more about the most recent Google algorithm update, Penguin, check out one of our SEO guru’s blog posts here. You’ll learn all about how to be safe when securing links and how to avoid being penalized.

    Content Marketing 

    If content is King, then pitching your content through PR is Queen. Content marketing drives SEO rankings, builds trust, and showcases your brand as a thought leader in the industry. The last aspect of providing insight unique to your industry is where PR comes into play. You can pitch your content in many ways, but here are two:

    • If you have a piece of content that is unique and what we would consider “pitchable,” meaning it’s newsworthy, then you can offer the content as an exclusive to the publication and have them publish it as a bylined article instead of publishing on your own blog. Then you can write another similar piece of content for your own blog that also links to the live bylined article. You need to be weary of publishing the article both on your website and on the outlet’s website, because you will risk duplicate content. Content should only be live in one place.
    • Another option that also provides SEO value and helps promote your blog content, is to pitch a piece of content that is performing well on your client’s blog as an idea for a similar article. This tactic helps prove your business as a thought leader. If you can secure links to a blog post on your client’s website, it helps drive that specific page authority and then in turn drives the keyword rankings of the keywords used in that article.

    If you’re not promoting your content through PR, you’re missing out on an opportunity in terms of generating more eyes as well as driving SEO rankings.

    Google Analytics isn’t just for Marketers

    As a PR professional, you should be using marketing tools on a daily basis and Google Analytics is one of these fundamental tools. Marketing professionals are living in Google Analytics and PR professionals shouldn’t be afraid of the platform. GA gives you valuable insight into the performance of your PR hits.

    You can assess the referral traffic coming from a placement, how many of these visitors are first-time visitors, and any conversions that come as a result of that placement. This is a critical way to define the ROI of your placement. If you’re in PR, you should consider taking the GAIQ certification test, which is offered online for free complete with video trainings and quizzes along the way. 

    If you’re a Publicist, you’re a Marketer

     Today, public relations and marketing are entirely intertwined. Rather than “siloing” the two from each other, you should use the two in conjunction and leverage marketing channels to promote your press hits as well as use your secured links within PR coverage to help your marketing channel performance like SEO. We at Power Digital have incorporated our PR strategy cross-channel with each of our marketing departments from SEO to Paid, Content and Social.

    I believe that every marketing agency should have a PR arm in order to integrate strategies flawlessly and capitalize on each others’ wins. Another reason for this, is to create a cohesive strategy with less moving parts. When an agency is under one roof and incorporates every marketing channel as well as its PR initiatives together, it is easier to communicate with one another and share PR wins as an assist to other channels.

    If you’re in digital PR, you are truly a marketing professional. It’s about integrating your strategies and ensuring you’re getting the most value possible from your placements… after all, PR is hard work!

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    Samantha Wormser

    Samantha Wormser

    Samantha is a PR manager and account manager at Power Digital where she executes on everything from top tier media relations, to SEO outreach and social media influencer outreach. After spearheading the influencer marketing arm of the PR department, Samantha has created strategies and partnerships with social media influencers to elevate both brand awareness, engagement, and ROI for our clients. Outside of the office, she's obsessed with all things food and exploring the outdoors.