The New Power Couple: Digital Marketing & PR

We don’t need to reiterate the difference between marketing, advertising and public relations. We’ve are trained in the distinctions our entire academic lives. I heard it nicely placed into perspective once:

You see a beautiful girl at a party. You go up to her and say: “I am very rich. Marry me!” That's direct marketing.
You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a beautiful girl. One of your friends goes up to her, points at you and says: “He's very rich. Marry him.” That's advertising.
You're at a party and see beautiful girl. You get up and straighten your tie. You walk up to her, pour her a drink; you open doors for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her ride and then say: “By the way, I'm rich. Will you marry me?” That's public relations.

Though there is a difference in the three, marketing, advertising and public relations all share common goals. They hope to develop a strong combination of: 

  • Awareness
  • Authority
  • Trust
  • Influence
  • Sales
  • ROI

Unlike a digital marketing team focused exclusively on search engine optimization (SEO), social media or digital advertising, PR professionals can put all of these into play, allowing for a complete view of a brand. This also allows for the crafting of multi-channel campaigns designed to influence prospects. This influence is extremely valuable, and conjuring influence is a skill that comes naturally to PR practitioners.

The ability to integrate digital marketing and public relations has never been more important. Digital marketers can use PR to build brand awareness, earn online authority, build website traffic, generate content and get media coverage.

In the past, public relations has revolved around pushing a message out to a targeted audience to build awareness and drive sales. Now, with the rise and implementation of inbound marketing, it’s all about pulling people into your brand or business website.

Based on the methodology of bringing prospects to you rather than you going out to find them, inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads and costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing.

What fuels this inbound philosophy? Content. In our digital world, content = currency. It’s how we earn media. It inspires action, connections and, ultimately what matters most, sales.


PR practitioners are naturally good at content creation & SEO. Why? They are skilled writers and storytellers. They can use those skills to have a direct impact on website traffic and overall marketing efforts.

So, why are content & SEO so important? They are in demand. They drive the entire inbound process. Now, 72% of PR agencies offer content and SEO services. Content creation, outreach/engaging with influencers and social networking strategy (aka content) are the most in-demand marketing services. With marketers consistently increasing budgets for digital marketing efforts like content creation, it is time for PR to step into the mix. 

A PR-based content/SEO process* looks like:

  1. Do something newsworthy (product launch, news story, new research)
  2. Create something valuable (blog, infographic, whitepaper, case study)
  3. Promote something that’s shareable (social, media relations, website content)
  4. Gain something that fulfills your business goals (leads, customers, followers, sales)

*via “PR Strategy for Digital Marketers” from The Cline Group (SMX West 2014)

Content creation is easily the largest struggle for marketers today. When creating content such as blogs, whitepapers, case studies, video, how-to’s and sales sheets, it is important to focus on producing unique, valuable and shareable content that appeals to your target audience. In short, it’s about quality not quantity.

In additional to being great content creators, PR people are also masters of successful promotion. After creating quality content, promotion is key. Get noticed by the people who matter by guest blogging, publishing engaging social media posts and even garnering real-world recognition through interviews, editorials and events. When it comes to promotion of content, it’s all about connecting with and engaging the right online prospects and showing your expertise.

Not only are PR practitioners good storytellers, they are also impressive writers. Search engines reward us for writing valuable content with which people engage. When it comes to crafting a multitude of content, PR people also excel at writing “evergreen” content, or content that doesn’t expire, which is vital in fueling a content repurposing strategy.

It’s not all about how PR can help digital marketing, though. Through the rise of web analytics and data-driven decision making, digital marketing now allows PR to:

  • Become more targeted through precise online targeting options and multi-channel campaign integrations
  • Track the customer decision journey and campaign influence and engagement like never before
  • Get more data for campaign measurement than ever before leading to better optimization of future campaigns and more accountability for PR efforts

PR practitioners, of course, can and do apply their skills to jobs in various roles across countless industries. Within digital marketing, having a PR background is huge benefit and something I personally utilize every single day whether I am working on a new digital campaign or in a new business pitch. If you are a PR practitioner who is dedicated to a non-traditional PR career, take a couple minutes to discover how your PR skills shine through in your daily tasks.

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