pr vs online marketing

PR vs. Online Marketing- What’s The Deal?

The year is 2021 and we are in a time when the world is on the internet. With the rise and growth of this powerful force over the last decade, the time has come when it has become one of the foundational driving factors for all worldly activities.

The case is truer for customers and businesses alike, so much so that it has become the number one and the most effective point of interaction. What should follow the realization of this fact is a clear understanding of the need to build your online profile in a discreet manner, particularly for business owners.

Now, we have all heard that if we want to build our business/brand, we need to work on online marketing. I have also talked about the importance and the intricacies of the process.

However, what most if not all business owners, especially those who are just starting out are unaware of is something called ‘Public Relations’ aka PR and its role/significance which brings us to the whole PR vs. Online Marketing discussion.

That’s exactly what I am going to breakdown for you in this article. We will look into the two concepts and analyze the difference based on nature, approach and outcome. I will also help you decide what you should focus on for optimal experience as marketers.

Let’s kick things off by understanding the two concepts.

What is Public Relations (PR)?

What makes a business successful? While there are various parameters, the most revealing ones are the inflow of customers and their conversion into leads. When it comes to drawing in customers, what becomes crucial is how the business is seen by them- the brand image.

Anything that helps is crafting and building the desired image of your business comes under the realm of Public Relation or PR. 

These practices are directed towards crafting a viable, trustworthy and positive display of your online business and all that it stands for. While the elements of this process are numerous, the most crucial ones are:

  • Building a solid and appealing brand reputation through proper display and portrayal of strengths and all the good aspects of your business and ensuring that the same is safeguarded and maintained.
  • Using the provision of getting influencers and power-players to help you expand the reach and trails of your business through endorsement of some sort at some level.
  • Use of social media to build the trust and connection with customers and create brand awareness.

What is Online Marketing?

While the motive, in a way, is similar to that of PR- generating inflow of customers, Online Marketing as a process is very specific with well-defined facets.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization lies at the core of the process. What it entails is the process/methods to optimize the online profile of your business in accordance with the trends and the algorithm of the search engine so as to secure a solid rank in the search results for queries/searches related to your business/niche.

It involves working on the different elements of your online business such as the backlink profile, target keywords, local search optimization etc. through well thought-out and properly executed strategies to build the authority of the business for the search algorithm in order to rank higher. This leads to generation of better traffic, more leads and a better commercial experience.

PR & Online Marketing- Tale of The Tape

Now that we have looked into the concepts of Public Relation and Online Marketing, it is time to analyze the two and develop a comparative understanding. For that, I will draw the difference between the two based on different grounds.


When it comes to the outcome of PR and Online Marketing, the difference lies in what each process seeks as a means to achieve the ultimate motive- a successful business.

PR and its various processes focus on building a reputable image of your business on the internet and then marketing it so as to build a connection with your customers and increase brand awareness.

Online Marketing focuses on optimizing the online profile of your business as per the requirements and the benchmarks of the search engine algorithm.

The difference is that while the former is solely focused on generating brand awareness and marketing a reputed brand image for customers & doesn’t consider the conversion of customers, the latter aims at generating traffic of potential customers and converting them into successful leads.

PR has more of a campaign-based approach towards promoting the business and building the name, image and a solid relation with the customers via brand awareness. Online Marketing on the other hand puts the search engine on the pedestal and aims at optimizing the website as per the search algorithm and win the trust of the same.


While distinguishing solely on the basis of outcomes can be tricky, particularly when we deduce the established similarity between the two since despite different means to the ultimate goal, both of them aim at creating a successful business experience, we can establish clear difference when we take into account the approach leading towards the end result.

Let us talk about Public Relations first. The approach which this method utilizes for the realization of the goal is centered around creating an image that projects connection and familiarity and spreading brand awareness among the consumers. It doesn’t encompass the issue of converting these customers/visitors into successful business leads.

That’s exactly what makes the concept of Online Marketing different. It puts the search algorithm in the spotlight and utilizes strategies to mend your business profile in consonance with the standards of the same so as to secure higher rankings in search results, leading to greater traffic and subsequently converting them into leads and sales.

As such PR is ‘customer & brand centric’ while Online Marketing is ‘search engine algorithm’ centric.

Now comes the time to address the most important question that you, as business owner might have in your mind: “Between PR & online marketing, which is more important?”


The Key is BALANCE

In my experienced opinion, it is not the right thing to choose one over the other. How can one do that when the intendment is the same for both?

Instead of putting it as ‘PR vs. Online Marketing’, I insist on putting it as ‘PR & Online Marketing’ because when we take the bigger picture and the grand scheme of things into consideration, it becomes clear that they are two sides of the same coin.

The goal should not be to distinguish and choose between the two but to be right on the money. And the way to that? Incorporating and implementing the two with equal disposition. That’s the key.

I hope I could make things clear to you and help you choose the right course of action for the betterment of your business pursuit. If you would like to learn more on how you can implement the two methods effectively and other such insights that are in the best interest of your goals, feel free to reach out to me.