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PR VS Marketing: 4 Key Differences and What’s Best for Your Brand in 2024 [+ Top Metrics to Track]

By Leah Clark Last updated: 17 minute read Marketing Guides

PR or digital marketing? Which will deliver the best results for your business, and what’s the difference between PR vs. marketing?

Many business owners assume PR and marketing are one and the same. This couldn’t be more wrong.

PR focuses on building your reputation amongst the general public. When we say the general public, think of print and media publications, influencers, your target audiences, and other businesses.

But digital marketing is a practice businesses rely on to develop an online presence and engage and convert targeted buyers on the internet. Digital marketing gives brands much more reach than traditional marketing.

Both PR and digital marketing are vital for successful businesses. 

For starters, digital marketing ads can raise awareness by 80%. But PR is vital because 70% of consumers prefer to learn about a business through an article over an ad!

It’s clear that both PR and digital marketing matter to businesses and work toward helping you reach your goals.

But what’s the difference between PR vs. marketing? And how do brands measure each campaign?

We’re here to answer all your PR vs. marketing questions with the key differences between these practices and the top metrics to measure each campaign!


Let’s go!

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    What is PR?

    Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing your presence and reputation among the public. Brands internally control their PR to create their desired public perception. So many businesses rely on PR, boosting the global market to over $97 billion in 2024. 

    Many often get confused between PR and publicity. Publicity is when news platforms and similar publications release content reviewing or reporting a brand without the company influencing the content’s narrative. 

    Companies can recover from bad publicity by leveraging PR to improve customer opinions. 

    Here are some of the top reasons businesses use PR:

    • 61% of brands and 50% of agencies believe PR secures more media coverage and relationships. 
    • Maintain a positive and credible online reputation.
    • Drive awareness and reach through positive media attention.
    • Secure industry authority. 
    • Share marketing campaigns and brand news and updates. 

    Summary: What is PR?

    Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing a business’s reputation and public opinion.

    Source: Public Relations 101

    How Do You Measure PR?

    1.Brand Impact

    The first metric is how your PR campaign impacted your brand reputation and reach. PR campaigns can help you make positive impressions on prospects and drive customer appreciation among your current buyers. 

    You build an excellent reputation on credibility, a sound value proposition, and fantastic customer service. PR only helps amplify this and share your buyer-centric approach with more target customers. 

    Every one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5 to 9% increase in revenue!

    To measure your brand impact (brand reputation and awareness), consider metrics like:

    • Social mention tracking. Stay updated on your social media mentions from target buyers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    • Social media sentiment. Social sentiment analyzes how customers on social media feel about your brand. This data gives you an in-depth look into buyers’ emotions when interacting with your business and products. We’ll speak about this more in-depth shortly. 
    • Media mentions. Track your growth and presence on news, niche-specific, and publishing platforms online. 
    • Website traffic. Monitor how many new web visitors you’ve gained since launching your campaign. 
    • Branded search volume. Through SEO tools and Google Analytics, track how many users search for your brand’s name. 

    2.Campaign Social Sentiment

    Customer social sentiment evaluates the emotions customers feel about your brand. You can have thousands of social media mentions, but this doesn’t reveal if customers view you in a positive light. 

    Track your PR social sentiment throughout your campaign to stay ahead of buyer data. Poorly detailed and implemented PR campaigns can cause bad publicity. Avoid this by keeping a close eye on social sentiment. If buyers feel negative about your brand, you can change this before it escalates!

    Use the best customer social sentiment analysis tools for qualitative and quantitative data. These tools have automated (and sometimes AI) features to track, measure, and evaluate your social sentiment. 

    Your social sentiment analysis tools will measure crucial metrics like:

    • How do customers feel when interacting with your brand and products? 
    • How do customers feel when mentioning you on social media?
    • How do customers feel about interacting with your content? 

    Customer social sentiment analysis tools visualize all this data for you. This advantage makes it simple to understand and action social sentiment analysis!

    3.Earned Backlinks

    Successful PR campaigns increase brand authority and awareness. These perks give other blogs a reason to create backlinks to your website. Monitor secured backlinks to determine how well your PR campaign performed.

    For successful PR campaigns, secure backlinks from websites with domain authority. You can weaken your relevance in Google’s search engine with backlinks from websites with poor domain authority. 

    But why do backlinks matter for PR campaign metrics?

    SEO is one of the most crucial elements of website authority. Backlinks strengthen your relevance and presence in Google’s search engine, fueling SEO. 

    Backlinks are the top metric to measure your PR on Google. These links show Google your content is valuable. Consequently, brands can drive search engine rankings, making it easier for buyers to find them.

    Websites with authority have high-quality links. These are the links you want. Poor or irrelevant links can harm your SEO. 

    A few vital metrics to track for backlinks in your PR campaign include:

    • How many new backlinks have you secured?
    • How many of these links are from websites with authority?
    • What is the impact on your web traffic from these links?
    Backlinks stats for PR VS marketing
    Source: Ahrefs

    4.Share of Voice

    Share of Voice (SoV) compares your media mentions against your competitors.

    The higher your share of media voice is, the more authority and popularity you have. SoV is your media mentions vs. your competitors. 

    Divide your media mentions by the total media mentions of all the other brands in your industry. Multiply this figure by 100 to get your answer.

    Let’s say your total media mentions are 520. All the media mentions of other businesses in your industry (including yours) are 2100. The equation looks like this:

    520/2100 x 100 = 24.76

    Based on this answer, your brand has a 24.76% share of media voice. This means over 20% of relevant media publications talk about your brand. 

    Consistently measure your SoV to determine how successful your PR strategies are. If your SoV decreases, consider how you can overthrow your competitors. Tracking this metric allows you to understand your market position better and how to stay ahead of your competition. 

    Here’s an example of how you can visualize SoV data:

    SoV_PR vs marketing
    Source: Hootsuite

    Summary: How Do You Measure PR?

    1. Brand impact
    2. Campaign social sentiment
    3. Earned backlinks
    4. Share of Voice

    What is Digital Marketing?

    Digital marketing is when brands leverage online strategies to create successful digital businesses that convert targeted buyers on the internet. 

    Digital marketing works because over 60% of the global population uses the internet. About 80% of people shop online in the US. In numbers, this is around 263 million digital shoppers. Brands have so much potential with large masses of centralized targeted buyers at their fingertips. 

    Back in the 80s, businesses had to promote their products and services to customers around their immediate area. When digital marketing blew up, startups and enterprises realized how much they could amplify their reach.

    Digital marketing has become the new way of business because:

    • Brands can reach thousands more qualified buyers.
    • Buyers often find convenience in digital marketing compared to in-person shopping.
    • There are billions of people online, proving the internet is where most people spend time.
    • Businesses can create deeper customer relationships by tracking online buying behavior.
    • Customers have more channels to contact your brand. 
    Digital marketing stats
    Source: Aweber

    Summary: What is Digital Marketing?

    Digital marketing is the practice of using online marketing strategies to reach, engage and convert targeted buyers on the internet.

    How is Digital Marketing Measured?

    1.Online Presence

    Digital marketing aims to ensure that you have a solid online presence. This can be your website, your brand appearing in search and social adverts, social media channels, blogs and any other online or digital channel.

    Essentially, good digital marketing places you where your target audience is, when they need your services.

    Accurate audience targeting is everything, and the channels you use will be informed by where and how you can connect with that audience.

    Most methods to measure digital marketing come down to assessing just how well you have targeted your audience, and how well you’re able to reach and engage that audience, on the platform or channel you’re using.

    Social media marketing is essential, no matter what type of business or brand you have, and it has become a key area within digital marketing.

    The key metrics you’ll track for your digital marketing social media presence include:

    • Reach. How many people have seen your content? Compare the figures for non-followers vs. followers. If your content has reached a lot of non-followers, it’s doing well in the algorithm. 
    • Impressions. How many times have people seen your content? The same user may view your content more than once, making this figure higher than reach. Loads of impressions mean your audience keeps revisiting your content! 
    • Audience growth. How many followers have you gained, and how many have you lost? Smaller social media accounts can use milestones to track audience growth. For example, successful audience growth means ten new followers every month. 
    • Engagement. Engagements are likes, shares, comments, and mentions. Tracking engagement reveals if your audience enjoys your content and wants to interact with your brand. 
    • Amplification. Fairly new but valuable, this metric measures the rate your followers share your content through their social channels. Followers share content they enjoy and believe in. A high amplification rate means you’re sharing customer-centric content. In response, your followers are expanding your reach. 
    • Click-through rate. A click-through rate (CTR) measures how many users click on your social media posts, ads, and bio links. When users click on your CTA and arrive on the dedicated landing page, this is a click-through. You want a high CTR to push buyers through your sales and marketing funnels. 

    2.Website Analytics

    Online businesses must have a professional, personalized website that pulls results. A website gives your audience a central point to connect and interact with your content. Most of your most powerful digital marketing campaigns will root from your website. For example, SEO, referral marketing, loyalty marketing, blog marketing, and lead generation.

    Evaluate data from users interacting with your website. These interactions reveal so much about your website and how it impacts buyers. With this information, you can refine your website style and approach to better suit your customer’s needs.

    These are the web analytics metrics to track for digital marketing:

    • New visitors vs. return visitors. How many new visitors are coming to your website vs. return visitors? If you have lots of return visitors, this points to personalized, engaging content. However, if you have many new visitors but few returns, your brand is attracting traffic but not engaging users. 
    • Interactions per visit. Getting traffic to your website is one task. But motivating those visitors to interact with your web content is another. Use heat mapping tools and web analytics to check if your users are interested in your content. Use this information to influence what emotional triggers or elements you add to optimization interaction. 
    • Bounce rate. How many people arrive on your website and quickly leave? A high bounce rate means you must reevaluate your digital marketing strategy. You could be targeting the wrong audience, creating poor landing pages, using bad CTAs, or readers not finding your content valuable. 
    • Exit rate. Exit rate determines how many visitors have left your website from a specific page. Web pages with high exit rates point to un-engaging or poorly tailored content. 
    Website design stats
    Source: Tyton Media

    3.Customer Cost vs. Profit

    How much you spend on your customers vs. how much you receive in return is vital to measure digital marketing. However, it’s a lot more intricate than that. Brands must consider a handful of metrics to evaluate how much each buyer is worth vs. how much the marketing to acquire or retain them costs.

    Metrics to measure customer cost vs. profit for digital marketing are:

    • Cost per Visitor (CPV) vs. revenue per visitor (RPV). CPV is the total cost to acquire a visitor vs. how much you profit from each visitor. This metric evaluates how much your brand earns in each visit. 
    • Cost per conversion (CPC). Consider what a conversion means to you (sign-up, purchase, download. Determine how much it costs for each conversion. 
    • Cost per acquisition (CPA). Your CPA calculates the amount you spend to acquire each buyer. 
    • Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS evaluates how loyal your customers are. Loyal customers spend more and are easier to convince. 

    4.Click-Through Rates

    Click-through rates (CTRs) are vital to track because they define how many users clicked on your ad and arrived on the linked landing page. High CTRs are often a sign your ad content is customer-centric and engaging enough to push users through your marketing and sales funnels.

    Let’s say your PPC ad CTR is high, but users quickly exit your website or don’t interact with your website content. Often, this means you nailed your ad content, but users don’t find your web content engaging or relevant to them. 

    Take a second look at your traffic to ensure you’re targeting the right buyers. You can also use A/B testing to evaluate how different landing page designs and content perform against each other based on audience interactions.

    Different aspects of your digital marketing campaign have various CTRs to track. 

    For email marketing, measure how many people click on your email newsletter CTAs to click through to your website. A decent CTR for email is between 2 and 5% of users

    This is how you calculate your email CTR.

    The number of users that clicked on your email / The number of emails delivered x 100. 

    Email CTR_PR vs marketing
    Source: Engage

    For PPC ads, measure how many people click on your PPC ads and click through to your website. The average CTR for Google-based ads is 2%

    This is how you calculate your PPC ad CTR.

    The number of users that clicked on your ad / The number of people who saw your ad x 100. 

    PPC ad stats

    Summary: How is Digital Marketing Measured?

    1. Social media presence
    2. Website analytics
    3. Customer cost vs. profit
    4. Click-through rates

    PR vs. Digital Marketing Explained

    There are many differences between PR vs. digital marketing but combining these practices is the most strategic and profitable choice. What makes PR and digital marketing different are the social channels you use, your goals and metrics, and your target audience and time frame. Let me explain.


    The channels you use for PR vs. digital marketing are very different. Digital marketing campaigns only rely on digital channels to promote brands. These channels include social media, SEO, email, SMS, content marketing, and PPC campaigns.

    The point of digital marketing is to market your brand and build an online customer base. However, for PR marketing, you’ll use a combination of digital and traditional channels. These channels include print and online publications, broadcasting services, and social media platforms.

    Not only are the channels you use for PR vs. digital marketing different, but brands do different activities on these channels too. For digital marketing, businesses will develop and deploy a series of targeted campaigns to achieve a specific marketing or sales goal. But for PR, brands promote content that stimulates their public perception. 

    Goals and Metrics

    We discussed the metrics for PR vs. digital marketing, so you know how different these are. PR metrics measure your positive media coverage and how much you’ve influenced public perception in favor of your brand.

    The metrics brands must measure for PR include:

    • Brand impact
    • Campaign social sentiment
    • Earned backlinks
    • SoV

    Digital marketing metrics brands measure business revenue from increasing online customer conversions. 

    The metrics you must measure for your digital marketing campaigns include:

    • Social media presence
    • Website analytics
    • Customer cost vs. profit
    • CTRs

    Your digital marketing vs. PR goals isn’t the same either. Digital marketing goals may be to increase customer lifetime value (CLV) or drive x conversions for your Instagram campaign.

    The PR marketing goals your brand sets revolve around optimizing your reputation and public opinions. 

    You may want to increase positive customer sentiment by x%, drive buzz or conversations about your business, or raise awareness about social or environmental issues your brand supports. 

    PR vs marketing
    Source: AnyTimeDigitalMarketing

    Target Audience

    Digital marketing campaigns have specific target audiences compared to PR marketing. For digital marketing, you create two or three ideal buyer personas based on your target audience analytics and how your product adds value to their lives. 

    These buyer personas are specific. Brands must detail their target buyers’ demographics, geographical locations, occupations, preferred communication channels, and buying needs to create a complete picture of who they’re selling to.

    Not all your digital marketing campaigns will target all your ideal buyer personas. Sometimes brands create campaigns for specific segments of their target customer base. For example, target buyer persona B goes to college, but persona A and C don’t. You can run a dedicated campaign to target persona B and promote content relevant to college students.

    Your PR marketing target audience is a lot more general. Remember, you’re aiming to enhance your reputation with the public. So, you’ll consider your target customers, media platforms, industry experts, and influencers. 

    PR marketing forces brands to consider how their image translates to more stakeholders than digital marketing. In many cases, parts of your digital marketing and PR target audiences may overlap. 


    In digital marketing, your primary focus is to convert customers now. Your digital marketing campaigns and goals are all based on short-term activities. Brands shouldn’t look too far ahead for their digital marketing campaigns (aside from their overall strategy or plan, which is made up of all the different short-term campaigns and activities). They must consider what targeted buyers need now and how they can secure significant conversions and sales quickly.

    Your PR marketing campaign is a much more long-term investment. Businesses must consider how positioning their PR may affect them later down the line. The results from PR marketing are also not as immediate as digital marketing. PR marketing campaigns take a lot of time to build and deploy, and results are valuable in the long run. 

    Summary: PR vs. Digital Marketing Explained

    • Channels
    • Goals and metrics
    • Target audience
    • Timeframe

    Final Thoughts on PR vs. Marketing

    PR and marketing are two different business practices. Businesses use PR to control and influence how the general public perceives their brand. You can deploy a series of strategies to build positive PR and stimulate your reputation.

    Digital marketing involves promoting your brand to an online audience and leveraging the internet to secure higher sales. Businesses use digital marketing to target thousands of buyers around the globe.

    Because of how different PR vs. marketing is, businesses must use both to increase their revenue and develop a trusted reputation. Fantastic, strategic PR campaigns make digital marketing much easier for brands. So instead of using PR or marketing, use both for maximum results!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is PR?

    PR (public relations) is a practice businesses use to manage their reputations and public opinion. Unlike publicity, brands can control PR and use content to influence what the general public thinks about their business. You measure PR campaigns using metrics like brand impact, campaign social sentiment, and Share of Voice (Sov). Read this full article for PR vs. digital marketing, the metrics you must measure for each campaign, and the key differences between these two practices.

    What is digital marketing?

    Digital marketing is a practice businesses use to market themselves to online audiences. With digital marketing strategies, a business can develop an online presence and reach thousands of targeted buyers on the internet. Brands should measure digital marketing campaigns with metrics like website analytics, customer cost vs. profit, social media presence, and email and PPC ad CTRs. Our article covers what digital marketing is, which metrics to use for digital marketing and how this practice differs from PR.

    What are the key differences between digital marketing vs. PR?

    The primary differences between digital marketing vs. PR are your target audience, marketing channels, goals, metrics, and campaign duration. PR is a long-term investment, and brands will see the fruits of their labor in the long run. Digital marketing implements strategies based on current consumer trends to achieve more immediate business goals and revenue objectives, as well as long term ones. This article has all the details on how PR differs from digital marketing and key metrics for each business practice.


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