The Difference Between Marketing and PR

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PR and marketing often get placed under the same umbrella, but actually, they’re two very different things, producing two different results for your business. Whether used individually or as a combined force, PR and marketing can help brands reach their goals and objectives, but the approaches of each will tend to vary.

Definitions

PR: PR is defined as ‘the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.’

Marketing: Marketing is defined as ‘the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.’

What does PR involve

In short, PR is all about devising strategies to enhance the profile and reputation of a brand by building strong relationships with profitable audiences. The main aim of a PR agency would be to ensure their clients get sufficient coverage and locate popular media platforms from which they can promote their brand stories. This in turn, will typically raise brand awareness amongst the public and generate leads & sales.

What does Marketing involve

Marketing is a much more all-encompassing term and focuses more on adding value to a product or service in order to encourage consumers to choose it over a competitor. A big part of marketing is communication; communicating the 4P’s – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion is at the heart of every marketing strategy.

Let’s break it down & compare…

Strategy

A PR strategy will typically involve setting S.M.A.R.T objectives, relaying specific messages, devising tactics and making strategic decisions that will ultimately build brand awareness and favorable relationships with a chosen target audience. Instead of selling through products, PR sells through the brand. Objectives are therefore very brand driven and will always endeavor to maintain relationships between the brand and key stakeholders.

For example, a PR strategy objective could be something like:

‘Achieve 10 or more media placements for [product x] in news publications throughout January.’

A marketing strategy will also involve setting S.M.A.R.T objectives for all marketing activity, however, the focus differs.; Instead of enhancing brand profiles and building relationships with the public, marketing strategies cover a much broader spectrum; identifying a core target market, analyzing market conditions (i.e the micro and macro environment) and satisfying customer needs profitably. Ultimately, marketing strategies help businesses to identify what they want to achieve, and how they plan to achieve it through the integration of the 4P’s. Unlike PR, marketing strategy is very product/ or service driven.

For example, a marketing strategy objective could be something like:

‘Increase online sales by 10% within 3 months’

Communications

In PR, communications are made mainly through media channels such as newspapers, magazines, blogs, and social media. PR communications are essentially non-promotional stories that help to bolster brand image and build a positive reputation. A big part of this is preserving a brand’s reputation through crisis management, which is a common tactic used by businesses to protect a brand when it may be presented with a threat.

In marketing, communications are very much sales driven and will involve advertisements and promotional campaigns for specific products or services. These campaigns are designed to add value and convey messages that fulfill the needs of a target audience.

Marketing activity is spread across multiple channels, both offline (TV, radio, press, billboards) and online (digital, search engine marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, email marketing,

Target audience

In PR, the target audience is typically much broader than in marketing. A PR strategy will strive to build and maintain positive relationships with all stakeholders, including the end customer, employees, the media, investors, and shareholders – essentially anyone who has an interest in the business.

In marketing, the target audience is much more specific and all efforts are aimed at meeting the needs of an identified target consumer group (both current and potential customers). It is extremely important for marketers to thoroughly research their target market, as it will govern the entire marketing strategy.

Metrics For Success

The success of a PR campaign is assessed primarily by the relationships built between the brand and the target audiences. In terms of measurable value, KPIs of a PR campaign could be something like:

  • social engagement (i.e the amount of likes, shared and level of interaction with your content)
  • mentions or share of voice (i.e how many times you are mentioned or referenced in publications that are relevant to your industry or target audience.

The success of a marketing campaign is defined by revenue, sales and overall return on investment (ROI). Marketing KPIs will vary depending on offline or online objectives, but will generally include things such as:

  • sales revenue
  • conversion rate
  • customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • website traffic (organic/referral)

Combining PR and Marketing

Despite being different approaches in their own right, the success of one is usually dependent on the success of the other. It’s therefore important that businesses use PR and Marketing as a combined force that can, in tangent, enable businesses to reach and satisfy a wider audience, for a longer period of time. When strong media and public relationships are coupled with consistent and well-targeted marketing communications, can create brands with enormous growth potential.

When we consider Digital Marketing and Digital PR for example, there is certainly an overlap in activity, especially in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). With similar aims of enhancing online visibility, digital marketers and PR executives can work together to secure backlinks and drive website traffic from popular online publications. At the same time, they can use the same platform to share brand stories that will help to strengthen public opinion and reputation.

Generating sales, satisfying customers and creating a likable brand are all fundamental objectives of businesses, and that’s exactly what can be achieved as a result of effective PR and marketing collaboration. That being said, it’s important to remember that organizations should always prioritize the communication strategy that best suits their objectives.

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