It is a common misconception to regard marketing and public relations as the same thing…
Many people, including myself, a newcomer to the world of PR and the Pink Media office, have used the terms PR and marketing interchangeably. Although they are somewhat intertwined, they are not the same thing. However, it is often difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.
So, what exactly is the difference between PR and marketing? Though related through promotion, PR and marketing use different strategies to achieve their desired goal and overall effect.
Marketing is the general process of boosting public awareness of a product or service. PR manages a company’s reputation by assessing public attitudes.
PR and marketing companies have different target audiences. Marketing explores the relationship between a product and its existing & potential customers. However, PR is concerned with a broader audience of organisation stakeholders; the media, investors and legislators.
Despite the difference in functions and overall purpose, PR and marketing do still go hand-in-hand. Marketing strategies strive to create public interest and PR kicks in when there is news to report. Whilst both mediums are proactive in their promotion, PR has to be reactive.
The strategies employed by marketing and public relations to promote are what ultimately separate them. Marketing uses ‘paid’ media such as advertising – a strategically planned and timed method of promoting a product and service. Marketeers dictate how the customer will perceive the product or service.
On the other hand, PR uses ‘free’ or ‘earned’ media that relies on positive publicity from third parties. This is media that is beyond the company’s direct control. There is an old saying, “advertising is what you pay for and publicity is what you pray for”. Positive publicity essentially protects, enhances and increases the visibility of a brand.
All that said, social media has distorted the boundaries that divide marketing and PR even further. A brand’s ‘online’ reputation is intrinsically linked to its ‘offline’ reputation – meaning PR now has to take on an additional role. Furthermore, social media can disseminate news at such a sheer pace that marketeers can now exploit this space for free promotion.
Social media has created a new and direct channel whereby brands can interact with people. Successful press releases and marketing campaigns depend on their ability to spark interest and online conversation, revolutionising the way PR and marketing companies engage with their target audiences.