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Marketing vs PR: What is the Difference?

Even professionals can get marketing and PR confused with one another. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are some clear, vital differences between them. Often, the aims of marketing and PR are closely related, if not identical, but there is a clear division between marketing and PR.

Simply put, marketing drives sales. It accomplishes this by innovatively promoting products, services, and ideas.

PR, on the other hand, is concerned with maintaining the reputation of your business. It also applies to brands and public personalities.

In this article, we’ll look at the aims and practices of marketing and PR, how they can be similar, and why it’s important to differentiate between the two.

Are PR and Marketing the Same Thing?

PR and marketing are similar, but not the same thing. Both are concerned with the image and promotion of the brand or business in question. Both aim to help the business or brand through these promotional efforts.

The type of work performed by PR firms and agencies, however, is very different from the work performed by marketing professionals. So, too, are the results and measurable outcomes for marketing and PR objectives.

Marketing success is typically defined by meeting or exceeding sales targets. Increasing reach, for example by increasing the volume of social media followers or generating buzz around a product or service in anticipation of launch, is also a goal for marketing.

In PR, however, defining success is a little more qualitative. Measuring ROI of PR can include positive press generated online and in trade publications. It could involve industry awards or substantial attention from key stakeholders and influencers relevant to your target audience.

Where Do Marketing and Public Relations Overlap?

There’s plenty of overlap between marketing and PR.

Neither can truly operate and become successful without involving some element of the other.

For example, social media and influencer marketing is typically managed by PR and marketing departments in conjunction with one another. This allows brand-building messaging, as well as targeted advertising, to be carried out as part of an overall brand campaign.

Brand awareness is key to marketing and PR. Building a solid brand reputation depends on having a visible, tangible presence in the market. Building this relationship with consumers takes time and expertise. For example, a PR agency in Sydney might have strong relationships with local news outlets and key Sydney-based influencers. This agency would work with a marketing department to help build a client’s brand and reputation. They would do this by using their contacts and experience to work together in driving positive press attention for a product or service, massaging the message appropriately, and building advertisements as part of that strategy.

Marketing and PR Overview

What is Marketing?

Marketing is the broad term that encompasses activities promoting and selling products and services. This includes the worlds of market research and advertising. Typically, marketing is driven by information and aims to boost sales and revenue through meeting the needs of the target audience.

What is PR?

PR, short for public relations, is the business of influencing perception. PR professionals do this by managing and disseminating information about a brand, business, or individual to the public. What is good PR? At its core, good PR is all about fostering trust and goodwill with your target audience.

What are the Key Differences Between PR and Marketing?

Goals of a Marketing Campaign vs a PR Campaign

A PR team’s goal is to promote and improve a brand’s reputation and relationship with its consumers. This is usually accomplished through the strategic use of various communication channels to engage with stakeholders and the target audience. In some cases, the goal may be to address the general public with the aim of reaching the target audience within the public through word of mouth or general public awareness.

The goal for marketing professionals is to reach consumers and encourage them to make a purchase-related decision. This might not necessarily be to purchase the product or service straight away, although that is the ultimate goal. Good marketing might involve elevating one product or service above a competitor in the eyes of the consumer so they remember to choose that product or service when they make a later purchase decision.

Daily Activities of PR and Marketing Efforts

There are a few key tasks for PR professionals. This includes managing company messaging, assembling press releases, investigating and securing opportunities for public appearance, or managing media relationships on the client’s behalf. PR agencies are often heavily involved in strategic planning.

Marketing activities, day to day, include the creation and management of advertising campaigns, research into consumers and competitors, and developing marketing collateral such as sales copy, images, and digital marketing materials. Often, digital marketing is a large piece of the daily work for a marketing professional.

Metrics of Success for PR and Marketing Campaigns

PR professionals measure their success in terms of the volume and tone of media attention for their clients. Having a strong, tangible, positive presence in the press both online and in print media is a reliable measure of PR success. The sentiment and tone of this coverage is important for PR as well, as PR professionals aim to influence the tone to be positive and aligned with the brand’s image and identity. One aspect of traditional vs digital PR is that the metrics for digital PR are easier to measure quantitatively than for traditional PR.

Marketing is inherently more sales-focused. Accordingly, marketing professionals typically measure their success against revenue and sales targets. The return on investment for marketing spend compared with sales volume is another key metric for marketing success.

Is Marketing or PR Better?

Ultimately, which is better is down to your branding and business goals.

A strong marketing campaign will drive sales and boost business, but this will work best when you already have a strong brand image and relationship with your target audience.

Brands looking to improve their reputation and engage with a wider audience often prefer PR campaigns because these allow for marketing success further down the line.

On the other hand, established brands with a strong reputation often employ marketing strategies over PR strategies as they already have a relationship with their consumers.

However, an established brand launching a new product or service might engage in a PR campaign as part of their broader long-term marketing strategy to bring awareness to their new offering.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, marketing and PR work best when used in conjunction with one another, and when deployed with a strong understanding of the differences between the two.

It’s best to consider marketing and PR as related, but distinct, components of any successful business strategy.

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