Editor’s note: Hey, folks! Our team at Blackwood has launched a podcast called The Big Brand Theory, and we’re currently doing a “Marketing Vs.…” series. If you’d prefer to listen to the episode about Marketing vs. PR, you can do so at this link. Enjoy!!

Marketing and PR, or public relations, are often seen as one and the same. While they do share a lot of commonalities, they serve distinctly different purposes. They can also work in tandem; all in all, marketing and PR are somewhat like cousins. What differentiates marketing from PR, and how do they function in terms of your business?

What are the basic definitions of marketing and PR?

Marketing is the advertising, branding, and everything else that strives to make a transaction of some kind. Whether that relates to a product, service, email list, or free PDF file, there is a form of persuasion to make a “sale” of some kind. 

Public relations, on the other hand, focuses more on upholding the reputation of a person or business. It’s what deals with the media and the press to keep a positive public opinion of the person or organization they’re representing. 

Marketing focuses more on aspects of the brand that can sell. PR focuses more on the way the brand is perceived by the public. Marketing is more of a pay-to-play game, whereas putting out a press release is free. It’s almost like free publicity – if you send something really valuable and exciting to a media outlet, if they choose to publish it, then boom! Free publicity for you. 

How do you measure the success brought in by each of them?

There are slightly different measures of success for marketing and PR. In marketing, the ideals to look for are more reach and brand awareness, more clients or sales, and a high return on investment, or ROI. As a refresher, return on investment refers to what you gain versus what you’ve put in. Another great measure of success for marketing is how much word of mouth is being generated around a business or product. 

The success of PR can be measured by more positive press surrounding a product or business, as well as a positive image in the public eye. Image is everything in PR, so creating a buzz is an essential part of gaining media attention.

It’s worth noting that the audiences often look different between marketing and PR.

For PR, the intended audience is the general public and media outlets. You want as many people as possible to have a positive association with the person or group that you’re representing. This can manifest itself in composing and promoting positive press or doing damage control if and when something goes wrong. 

There is some targeting involved with PR, particularly in deciding which media outlets to send press comments to and partner up with. The best way to get a good head start on having as much brand awareness as possible is to be really specific and intentional about the outlets you’re choosing to promote with. 

With marketing, you’re targeting a specific group of people who you are confident will take action in whatever way you’re looking for. Your intended audience is consumers. Whether that’s people you want to buy your products or services, people you want to sign up for an email list, or other businesses who you want to partner with, there is most likely going to be a transaction of some kind involved. 

Differences aside, how can the two often mirror each other?

They’re both sort of like squares and rectangles – every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square. Marketing often includes a little PR, but all PR is not marketing. And vice versa. 

There’s a lot of overlap between the two. If your products or services aren’t great, you’re probably not going to leave a positive impression on your audience. Along the same vein, if your marketing isn’t working to connect your audience to your brand, people probably aren’t going to do business with you. 

Social media plays a pivotal role in both marketing and PR.

Since so much of our life is online now, the best way to reach people is through social media and a strong online presence. For marketing, this is particularly awesome because you have so many more options for advertising. For PR, this is also wonderful because it gives individuals and brands more of a platform to show why they’re so great and to create and uphold a really positive image. 

Recent history has shown that social media can make or break a person. Look at celebrities; their entire lives are ruled by marketing and PR, and they’re always in the public eye. When they mess up, it’s everywhere. Of course there’s the saying that “all press is good press,” but that doesn’t always hold true. You want to make sure that the image you’re putting online always reflects the best version of your brand. 

Aside from social media, marketing and PR work together in a couple of ways.

Marketing is proactive whereas PR is reactive. Marketing sets the foundation for a product or service. Then, PR comes into play and helps promote the product or service and, when possible, drives media attention toward that business. Essentially, marketing provides something that PR can then respond to. 

It’s difficult to do one without doing a little bit of the other. The two really go hand in hand, despite being somewhat different from each other. Every company can benefit from both – see how marketing and PR can work for you!

If your current digital marketing strategy just isn’t cutting it anymore, look no further. Contact our team of experts here at Blackwood Creative. We’re in the business of building remarkable brands – and yours could be next. Reach out to us today!

3 Keys to Mastering Social Media for your Business

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