As much as some try to put digital marketing and PR into the same category, they’re not quite the same thing. They are two separate strategies often serve the same goal: to increase brand awareness and thereby increase the bottom line.
I graduated with a degree in public relations, but found the digital marketing industry exciting and challenging. After graduation I accepted a position here at Big Leap and became a digital marketing specialist. At first I was a little nervous because I didn’t know how many of the skills I had developed studying public relations would be applicable. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize how well prepared I was.
There are obvious differences between the methods and priorities of PR and digital marketing. But in my experience, an understanding of both can help you develop a more holistic, sustainable digital marketing strategy.
Here are 3 things I have learned to bridge the gap.
Justify Your Existence
One of the issues faced by public relations professionals all over the world is justifying efforts. Digital marketing professionals have jumped through that hoop time and time again. Because they know how important it is to prove real results, they are able to tie their efforts directly to tangible things like rankings, page views, shares, conversions, downloads, and more. Whether you’re justifying work to your boss, your client, or yourself, knowing that countless hours of work is actually driving results is crucial to a successful career.
In traditional PR, a 6-month campaign can be difficult to evaluate if you are restricted to opinion, behavior, or awareness. The success of a digital marketing campaigns can be measured more objectively because the goals can be tracked to a reasonable degree of certainty. Digital marketing has taught me how to justify my efforts, whether I’m working on a technical SEO project or more traditional media outreach.
Get Used to Change
Digital marketing is a constantly changing industry. Those who are set in doing things the way they have always been done don’t last long. Many large, successful PR agencies and professionals struggle to embrace new technology and let go of the best practices of yesterday.
Anyone who has worked in SEO for more than a few months is familiar with its constant change. The industry as a whole is required to be nimble and adaptive in order to survive another day. Through my experience in digital marketing I have learned that the rate of change requires most professionals to hold on to what works for as long as it does, but when the time comes, let it go. If you let go of your fear of change, you can be prepared to adapt to or even predict new industry trends.
Digital Marketing and PR Are Not Mutually Exclusive
I once had a professor say, “Both PR and marketing make you money, but when a crisis arrives only PR helps you keep that money.” While there is a lot of truth in this, after working in digital marketing, I have realized that digital marketing when done right includes a lot of PR. Digital marketing efforts including site optimization, link building, and paid media campaigns build on PR principles and vice-versa.
Good digital marketing lays the groundwork for PR, and good PR builds consumer trust and branding that furthers digital marketing efforts. I have learned that PR and digital marketing are not at their best when they are in competition. It’s time to ditch the exclusive mentalities. Companies are best served when they include digital marketing and online PR in a cohesive, integrated marketing strategy.