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The Differences between Marketing and PR

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Getting your business ‘out there’ in today’s busy digital world can be very confusing! With an ever changing barrage of jargon, trends and buzzwords, it can be hard to know which way to turn or where to start. To make matters worse, some core components of business are often confused or used interchangeably, leaving well-meaning business owners stuck. Should you invest in social media or secure speaking spots on podcasts? Should you go live on Facebook, or guest-write on popular blogs or platforms? Before we get too carried away, let’s take a few steps backwards and focus on the differences between two of our favorite disciplines: Marketing and Public Relations.

The terms ‘Marketing’ and ‘Public Relations’ have often been used interchangeably or lumped into the same category. While the two are very closely linked, there are definitely core differences in definitions, tactics and measurement. Both marketing and PR will go a long way in increasing your brand awareness, but what exactly do each of them actually do?

What is Marketing?

Dr Philip Kotler, widely regarded as the father of marketing, described marketing as “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit”. Basically, marketing is a giant umbrella under which a number of other disciplines and functions reside. Any method that promotes your brand, can be seen as a component of marketing. Marketing communicates the value of a product or service and how it fills the needs and wants of the customer. It is about the message a brand sends to a targeted audience. It is also widely regarded as a management process through which a product or service is moved from concept to the customer. We can really go down a rabbit hole of definitions and explorations of modern marketing, but in essence, marketing is the set of strategies and activities you use to promote your business. If you make use of social media for your business, that’s marketing. If you make use of PR strategies, that’s marketing too. PR, however, is a highly specialized branch of marketing,requiring a special set of skills, training and experience.

What is PR?

PR, or Public Relations, deals with the overall reputation of a company or organization. A PR

professional will asses a brand, and then make it known to the public through a variety of channels. The idea is to maintain a favorable public image of brand as a whole. Good PR can be used to build credibility for your brand, gain awareness for it, or show your expertise in a particular industry or niche. PR generally deals with the top of the sales funnel, namely the awareness phase. In an attempt to get people to know, like and trust you or your business, a PR professional will pitch your brand to the media, hoping to secure opportunities to showcase your brand through third party channels. An example of this would be generating positive media coverage of your brand, be it on a podcast, a well known blog, a speaking opportunity, or an interview on a news channel. PR professionals can be found writing press releases about newsworthy happenings within a company, maintaining relationships with influencers and the media, managing crisis and reputation, pitching positive stories to the media, and so much more. Again, we could go down a rabbit hole of principles, definitions and functions! Ultimately, Marketing cannot function without some PR, and PR cannot function without some marketing. They both aim to get people to know, like and trust your brand, with end goal of making sales. Marketing and PR can compliment each other, building trust, increasing brand awareness and equity, and driving people into your sales funnel.

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