Lee Odden

3 Advantages Public Relations Brings to Digital Marketing

digital PR marketing

Numerous journalists are jumping the newsroom ship to “brand storytelling” as content marketers and an increasing number of public relations firms are evolving as integrated marketing communications agencies.

As more companies adopt content marketing and integrate their marketing activities across owned, earned, shared and paid media, there’s an opportunity for marketers to tap into the expertise of the PR world.  PR is a grossly underutilized strategy for marketers and presents a unique means to evolve from Stasis to Storytelling on the Content Marketing Continuum.

According to a content marketing study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, the top challenges for content marketers include: Not producing enough content, not creating content that engages, not producing a variety of content, lack of integration across marketing channels.

The good news is, substantial progress can be made towards solving these challenges through integration of PR and marketing. Here are 3 ways PR expertise can be leveraged for content and digital marketing success:


There’s an old expression that has held true for me over the past 15 years: “Facts tell, stories sell”. Content Marketing is the ability to tell brand stories that consumers and the media will care about. Who better to find and tell those stories than PR and Communications pros?

It is often said that people make decisions based on emotion but justify them with logic. Therein lies the intersection of PR and content marketing. Stories can connect with customers on an emotional level and the architected narrative of content marketing can provide a vehicle for both facts and stories that matter to your customers.

Editorial Based Marketing

Before “content marketing” became the catchphrase, I used to call what our Marketing/PR agency did “editorial based marketing”. PR professionals understand how news organizations work. They also understand the value of extending a story across platforms and distribution across publications. Businesses are investing in content from planning to production to editorial. Corporate Journalism is on the rise and PR professionals are perfectly capable of fulfilling those functions or supporting them to create compelling brand content. Content designed to engage also inspires action – whether it’s a social share, a purchase, a referral or an inquiry to do a story.

Influencer Marketing

Working with industry and media influencers has been the stock and trade of media relations professionals for years. Numerous tools from Traackr to BuzzSumo can support the need to identify influencers based on their ability to affect action – not just high follower counts. PR professionals are well positioned to identify and engage influencers for a variety of content marketing based outcomes ranging from guest blog posts to co-creation of content with industry thought leaders. What better way to scale meaningful content with social amplification built-in, than through influencer marketing?

Now more than ever, creating content that influences growth in market awareness and new business requires an integrated approach. While this has been a challenge for many PR professionals as marketing and PR functions converge, the good news is that through a model of Attract, Engage and Convert, organizations can better plan, implement and optimize the performance of their content based PR programs.

For more of a deep dive into this topic, check out the presentation below. You can also hear me present this live on Wed May 13th online through the PRSA Webinar: The Future of Digital PR is Integrated.


How are you using Public Relations expertise for better digital marketing?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Hi Lee,

    Tell stories or hire PR firms to do that for you. Smart, concise advice here.



  2. Great post! Would love to know more about the concept of “corporate journalism.” Being a journalist myself, I enjoyed reading a PR-related post referring to journalism.

    • Corporate journalism is the application of a journalist’s perspective on telling brand stories. This is in contrast to “marketing hype” so pervasive in most brand content.

  3. Storytelling, Editorial Based Marketing and Influencer Marketing – Honestly, these are all powerful gains that digital marketing should knock from public relations.

    “Facts tell, Stories sell” I like this thought and I couldn’t agree more about it.

    As what said above, content marketing is the ability to tell brand stories that the audience and the media will care about. Therefore, I conclude that this approach is really effective to use.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. While much has been written on this topic, your article expresses both
    the positive and negative aspects of this important topic, without
    taking an boring stance on either side of the issue.
    Lee Odden, I must Thank you for your thorough research and clear

  5. Thank you for your comments Lyndon. Great points.

    Regarding PR and marketing, I think describing them as distinctly different represents a sort of status quo that is actually eroding.

    Expectations for marketing and PR are converging. Marketing, especially content and social media marketing, are being used to nurture relationships as well or better than PR. PR programs are increasingly held accountable to business growth and even leads/sales.

    It’s an exciting opportunity to break the silos of expectations and as we both agree, start and end with the customer.

    I’m looking forward to presenting all of this at the WVU IMC INTEGRATE event coming up in a few weeks.

    • Good morning Lee. I agree that it is eroding, and this is – in large part – contributing to the slow, painful death of the PR industry.

      I always ask people to consider the chances of success of a marriage proposal if they simply walked up to a guy/girl in a bar. Then consider the chances of success once they’ve got to know the guy/girl and have built a relationship.

      Asking people, or expecting them, to take action on behalf of your company without the prerequisite relationship is a lottery. Sadly, far too many businesses take this approach IMO.

      I’ll look forward to hearing how your WVU IMC INTEGRATE presentation goes.

      Best wishes,