Differentiating Digital PR from Paid Advertising

In this digital age, everyone is competing against each other to introduce their brands and generate more revenue. Digital PR and paid advertising are two terms that are commonly used interchangeably. While these two marketing activities have many similarities, it is important to note their key differences in order to know how both these strategies can contribute to the success of your company.

Competition is stiff between businesses so advertising your own is very important, and you need to find the right way to achieve the growth you require. Trying to decide which type of advertising you need can be a bit of a challenge, however, knowing the difference between both will give you an advantage. There are benefits to each type of advertising but if you want to grow more rapidly, we’d suggest using them both (or, leave it to your marketing experts!)

To help you figure out which one suits you and your company here are the five main differences between digital PR and paid advertising – and when you should use each one.


One of the most obvious differences of digital PR from paid advertising is their focus or the end goal. With paid advertising you are running ads and campaigns, and the main objective is to generate as many leads and sales as possible; this type of advertising being used to drive sales.
On the other hand, digital PR focuses on building a positive image and good reputation for the brand; Digital PR is more about changing the beliefs and perception towards your brand.

Whether you choose Digital PR or paid advertising, both would require a digital marketing plan to achieve your end goal.


Another difference between paid advertising and digital PR are the activities involved to execute them. For paid advertising, activities include things like sponsored posts and running ads on Facebook or Instagram, whereas digital PR includes forming a good relationship with media outlets and creating newsworthy pieces that get picked up by journalists and other media outlets.



When doing digital PR, one doesn’t necessarily have to pay to get a news feature or media appearance. PR can be free exposure for the brand.
With paid advertisement, a marketing budget is always involved to implement the strategy.

Target and Result Measurement

Since the goal of paid advertisement is usually goal-focused and measurable, for example increasing leads or sales, it is targeted towards specific audiences.
On the other hand, digital PR has a broader audience and includes practically anyone who might have an interest in the brand. The focus is not on the sales but the positive relationship that you can build.

marketing stats

And, as for the output, measurement of the success of paid advertisement is specifically tracked via the number of conversions made or numbers of traffic for that campaign or period.
On the other hand, the effectiveness of digital PR can be measured by the number of impressions, or how much media exposure it received over a given period.


In general, paid advertisements are considered short term and can last from days to months depending on the timescales of your campaign.
For digital PR, it is considered a long term activity; since building rapport and creating harmonious relationships with journalists takes time.  

Whether you want to utilise paid campaigns or digital PR for your business, these activities are best used as part of a wider digital marketing strategy to grow your business

We at DM Media Solutions cover both paid marketing and PR, so we are available to guide you through the process and help you make the most of your time and resources; allowing you to achieve the growth that your company deserves.

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