What is the Difference Between PR and Marketing?

signage for pr and marketing

With both public relations and marketing becoming more digitally focused, it’s become harder than ever to identify clear-cut, key differences between each function. 

Brand development and customer engagement are at the heart of both activities, leading to overlaps between both PR and marketing, blurring the boundaries that used to set them so far apart. 

So, what is public relations and marketing? And could we see the two services completely merge in the future? 

What is marketing? 

The marketing definition is quite a broad one. Traditionally, it’s defined as promoting and selling products/services. Activities can also include market research and advertising. 

Day-to-day, you can expect a marketer to be drafting social media content, crafting Search Engine Optimisation campaigns or nailing Pay Per Click adverts on Google. With marketing, you can expect a bigger data focus, the metrics of success including conversions, ROIs and engagement rates. 

What is public relations? 

PR as a function is normally defined as being the maintenance of a business’s public image. This ensuring that they remain prominent in the minds of the public and favourably viewed. 

On a typical day in the life of a PR professional, you would see them spend their time pitching stories to the press, building relationships with key individuals within the sector and also building a brand’s prominence in their specific field. 

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The differences between PR and marketing

The main difference between both activities is that one is generally more sales-focused while the other is building a brand and ensuring they remain a leader in their sector. 

Other differences can be found in target audiences. Marketers will always be focused on the customer adapting each campaign to directly appeal to their customer’s very specific needs. 

In PR, the audiences are much more diverse. Yes, they still include the customer, but they also include suppliers, investors and even employees. In summary, the group generally consists of individuals who all support the brand’s objectives. 

The future of public relations and marketing

With the breadth of overlap between the two functions, it’s impossible to do PR without doing a little bit of marketing at the same time. If your services are bad, your brand perception will be bad. And, if your brand perception is bad, people won’t be buying your products. It’s a vicious circle, one where PR and marketing need to work in unison to be completely effective. 

As we head into the future, it’s undoubtedly true that the two functions will become more reliant on one another. In fact, some would say that it’s already happening. 

Take, for example, Search Engine Optimisation. SEO has always been at the heart of digital marketing. But now, more and more marketers are discussing their SEO campaigns with public relations teams. A key part of SEO is being a reliable and trustworthy source, something that’s often determined by the number of references to your sites, AKA backlinks. 

By using public relations, marketers can create this web of strong backlinks. This working to boost the authority of a site and, ultimately, its search ranking. The way to do it is with a good PR campaign. Find a good story, craft an expert pitch and secure coverage with links to a client’s site from 100’s of respected news sites.  

The overlaps don’t stop there either. There are continuous overlaps with social media and content marketing – the list goes on.

So, while there are some key differences between the traditional aims of both functions, it seems that the future of PR and marketing may be more blended than differentiated. 

Finding PR and marketing services

Interested in using both functions, but not sure how to approach public relations and marketing? We’re always available to discuss how to optimise your branding activities, so why not get in touch with our friendly team? Call our Worcester-based team on 01905 670881 or email [email protected]

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