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Digital Marketing vs Public Relations

When trying to grow your business, it can be challenging knowing which route to take. In this blog, we are going to focus on two of the biggest practices used by businesses – digital marketing and public relations.

We will outline the differences and similarities between digital marketing and PR, and we’ll share our advice for where you should be focussing your time, effort and budget. We’ll also outline how you can integrate your digital marketing and PR efforts.

We are a digital marketing agency, so we know everything there is to know about the topic. And we work alongside some fantastic public relation agencies, so we have plenty of knowledge in that field too.

Let’s get started, shall we…

Digital Marketing vs Public Relations: The Differences

In recent years, the lines between digital marketing and public relations have blurred and overlapped, with many businesses integrating the two practices, often without realising.

Although the two practices can complement each other, there are many differences between digital marketing and PR.

The Aims

Public relations practices aim to create and maintain a positive brand image. Aside from increasing brand awareness, PR is also used to create a buzz around new product launches and initiatives, and drive sales in the aftermath of the launch.

And let’s not forget damage control. Public relations is also used by companies worldwide to minimise the impact of a crisis and improve a company’s bad reputation.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is the practice of using market research to promote, advertise and sell a company’s products and services. Digital marketing focuses on converting the target audience into paying customers.

The Methods

The methods and channels used by digital marketing professionals differ from those used by PR professionals.

For example, digital marketing experts will use SEO, content marketing, PPC, email marketing and social media marketing to promote products and services and put the business directly in front of the target audience.

Whereas PR experts will use outreach to build relationships with the media and influencers in the industry, write press releases and pitch positive news stories or articles about the business. PR experts also ensure a company attends industry events.

By reaching out to publications that have a readership similar to that of the company’s target audience, PR experts can maintain a positive brand image.

Digital Marketing vs Public Relations: The Similarities

As you can see, there are many differences between digital marketing and PR. And you may only need one or the other, depending on the needs of your business.

But overall, digital marketing and PR have similar goals. Both practices aim to increase brand awareness. Both practices target similar audiences. And both practices aim to increase traffic and sales.

Plus, digital marketing and PR can both be outsourced. This means you can reach your business goals with the help of industry professionals. Some of the methods used are also similar.

For example, both PR and digital marketing professionals use social media channels. Similarly, there are similarities in the outreach methods used for press releases and backlink articles.

digital marketing and public relations

When Should I Use Digital Marketing?

If you have a company website, you should be using digital marketing – it’s as simple as that! The whole world is online. Without digital marketing, you will struggle to reach your audience and get ahead of your competitors.

The beauty of digital marketing is it can be tailored to suit the needs and budget of your business. You may not get as much of a result with a small budget, but even a little bit of digital marketing is better than none at all.

Even if you don’t have a website but have a physical shop, you should be using social media to increase brand awareness and advertise products and service.

When Should I Use Public Relations?

If you are launching a new business, branching out or introducing a new product, service or initiative, PR will give you the best chance of it being a success.

Similarly, if you want to increase brand awareness within your industry and put your company name in the mouths of important industry folk, PR will be the way to go.

Or, if your brand image has taken a hit and you need to improve the reputation of your company, PR will certainly be the best route for you.

Integrating Digital Marketing And Public Relations

Integrating digital marketing and public relations can be incredibly beneficial for most companies.  Digital marketing can and will boost your PR efforts – and vice versa. If you have the budget, time and knowledge, don’t be afraid to blur the lines between PR and digital marketing.

PR And Social Media

For example, when your PR efforts lead to a press release being published in an industry publication, you can incorporate this press release into your social media tactics. Similarly, if your PR team have created a particularly fantastic PR campaign, you can use social media and paid social to elevate it.

PR And Content Marketing

Your content marketing can also be intertwined with PR. Your digital marketing team should have a strategy that includes carefully selected blog titles with well-researched keywords.

Instead of publishing one of the blogs on your own website, this content can be pitched as an “exclusive” piece to an editor, where it may be picked up and published externally.

Plus, when writing press releases for especially for external publications, your PR team can include a link back to your website. Once published, this high-quality backlink can improve your websites domain authority and help build trust with Google.


Aside from shouting about your PR campaign on social media, you can also use PPC to position it at the very top of the search engines. PPC is a tried and tested way to quickly drive traffic to your website. However, without other SEO efforts, you may notice the traffic has a high bounce rate.

Get In Touch

GrowTraffic is an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Lancashire and Yorkshire. We specialise in search engine optimisation but offer a wide range of digital marketing services.

If you need some help with your digital marketing, get in touch with the GT team at or call us on 0161 706 0012. Alternatively, head to our blog for help, tips and advice.

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