PR Marketing vs. PR vs. Marketing – What’s the Difference?

Intelligent Relations
By Intelligent Relations Team

It’s easy to confuse public relations (PR) and marketing. And that becomes even easier in small companies where one team often handles both.

But they are not the same thing, even though they sometimes serve similar purposes. So, what’s the difference?

PR’s main goal is to create and foster brand awareness, while marketing focuses on driving sales. But what does that look like in practice? 

PR is handling relationships with press and media outlets.

Marketing is taking care of things like advertising and customer acquisition activities.

At the same time, you can take a blended approach with a PR marketing strategy. It’s here where both activities support the efforts and end goals of each other.

This article will show you the essence of both PR and marketing, highlighting differences and similarities. We’ll also show you how to use both together to ensure your company’s success.

Here is a list of questions you’ll find an answer to:

  • What is Public Relations?
  • What is Marketing?
  • What are the key differences between PR and Marketing?
  • What are the similarities between PR and Marketing?
  • What are the examples of companies successfully using PR marketing strategies?

Want to know more about integrated PR marketing strategies?

Book a free consultation with us. We will take a look at both your current PR and marketing strategies and advise you on blending both into a PR marketing strategy that works.

What is Public Relations? 

Let’s start with the basics: 

What is public relations?

Public Relations, often shortened to PR, is a strategic communication mechanism that manages and molds public perception of an organization or individual. Its main role is to construct, sustain, and safeguard the reputation of a brand or entity, nurturing a positive rapport with its target audience, stakeholders, media, and the wider public. 

This objective is fulfilled through an array of activities. Here are some examples:

  • Press Releases 
  • Media Relations
  • Crisis Management 
  • Social Media Engagement  
  • Community Involvement

It may come to you as a surprise, but PR has been around for ages. You can trace its origin back to ancient times when people used persuasion tactics for political gains. 

The contemporary face of PR emerged in the early 20th century. Key figures like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays played pivotal roles in its evolution.

The founding fathers of PR used psychological insights to create persuasive narratives. These narratives generated favorable public opinions for their clients.

And that’s why PR is important.

It determines how the world perceives your organization.

PR then is a tool for creating and managing what people think about your company. And that can have a profound impact on your business’s success.

What is Marketing?

Let’s look at the other side of the coin:

What is marketing?

Marketing is a multifaceted discipline that centers on identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer needs in a profitable manner. It involves a wide range of activities that form the pillars of a modern business strategy. These activities are often referred to as the ‘4 P’s’ of marketing.

The 4 P’s of marketing include:

  • Product: Developing products or services that meet customer needs.
  • Price: Establishing pricing strategies that maximize profit and market share.
  • Place: Managing the distribution and accessibility of the product.
  • Promotion: Communicating and promoting the benefits of the product to consumers.

Marketing also dates back to ancient times. Since then, it’s evolved from basic trade activities to sophisticated digital strategies.

In a business setting, marketing serves several key roles:

  • Establishing Brand Identity
  • Driving Customer Engagement
  • Enhancing Brand Loyalty
  • Increasing Sales
  • Driving Growth

To achieve these goals, marketers use a variety of tools and techniques including:

  • Market Research
  • Advertising
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Digital Marketing
  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing

5 Key Differences Between PR and Marketing

So, now you know what PR and marketing are in essence. But what are the differences between PR and marketing?

  1. PR vs Marketing Target Audiences: 

The primary audience for PR typically includes:

  • Media Outlets
  • Investors
  • Employees
  • Industry Influencers

As mentioned, the objective is to create a positive public image and build strong relationships.

Marketing efforts on the other hand engage potential and existing customers. The focus is on driving sales and promoting products or services.

  1. PR vs Marketing Objectives: 

The goal of PR is to build a favorable brand image and public trust for the company. PR is managing the flow of information between an organization and the public. 

In contrast, the goal of marketing is increasing your sales and customer base. Marketing is leveraging techniques that persuade consumers to buy a product or service. 

  1. PR vs Marketing Tactics and Tools: 

PR tactics and tools include:

  • Press Releases 
  • Events
  • Sponsorships 
  • Crisis Management 
  • Community Outreach 

PR tactics include sharing stories that evoke an emotional connection and shape public opinion.

Marketing tactics and tools include: 

  • Advertising
  • Promotional Campaigns
  • Direct Mail / Email Campaigns
  • Digital Marketing
  • SEO
  • Product Placement

Marketing tactics include creating a desire for the company’s products or services.

  1. PR vs Marketing Metrics

The measurement of success in PR involves parameters such as:

  • Public Sentiment
  • Brand Reputation
  • Media Coverage
  • Crisis Management

These things are inherently qualitative and can be a challenge to measure. 

The measurement of success in marketing involves parameters such as: 

  • Sales Figures
  • Conversion Rates
  • Customer Acquisition Costs
  • ROI
  • Traffic and Engagement Numbers

These things are inherently quantifiable, making it easy to determine the success of campaigns.

  1. PR vs Marketing Duration and Results: 

PR activities often work towards achieving long-term goals. One big media win doesn’t equal PR success. Instead, the goal of PR is increasing your brand reputation and recognition. You can only achieve this through sustained relationship building. So, the results may not be immediate.

In contrast, marketing strategies are generally short-term and results-oriented. You will often design campaigns to generate immediate sales and increase market share. You can execute these campaigns in short bursts or sprints and pivot to the next campaign.

Ready to get started on your first press release? Then you’ll want to check out our guide: How to Write a Press Release for Great Results [Examples + Tips]

PR Marketing – How to Blend PR and Marketing for the Best Results

Despite their differences, pairing PR and marketing builds a robust brand image and drives business growth.

PR marketing or Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), leverages the strengths of both disciplines.

What would a PR marketing strategy look like?

Let’s say you’re preparing a marketing campaign to promote a new product to customers. 

First, you need to create desire for the product. 

Brands like Apple use compelling advertising to showcase innovative features and design aesthetics. 

Not selling the next iPhone? Don’t have an advertising budget? 

Don’t worry. 

You can still effectively market your product by focusing on precise and cost-effective strategies. Here are some examples:

  1. Influencer Collaborations – While not all influencer collaborations are cost-effective, often you can find micro influencers in your niche that will agree to test, review, and promote your product for a barter or at a low cost. 
  1. Referral and Affiliate Programs – Referral and affiliate programmes encourage consumers to promote your product. You should reward these customer referrals with discounts or commissions. These programmes encourage word-of-mouth marketing and bring in new clients.
  1. Content Marketing and SEO – Creating high-quality, SEO content may boost your online presence. Create compelling blog pieces, videos, or podcasts addressing your audience’s concerns. This strategy may boost organic traffic, brand authority, and lead generation for your website.

While you’re doing that, you prepare a PR campaign. You target media outlets and influencers to generate positive buzz for the launch of your product. 

The idea is to build relationships with media contacts who write about products or services like yours or write about your industry. 

A good PR marketing strategy uses activities from both disciplines to compliment each other. A comprehensive approach creates buzz among consumers and industry insiders alike. 

The results of a successful blended PR marketing strategy include enhanced brand recognition, customer loyalty, and sales performance. 

Pro Tip: Granting influencers early product access is a great way to generate sincere reviews and write ups. You can also go the way of thought leadership. Instead of blasting out a single press release, follow up with content that compliments an aspect of your product and expertise. 

Key Takeaways

Understanding the difference between PR and marketing is vital. It’s important to know their respective objectives, audiences, tactics, and success metrics. That way, you can combine these two activities into a PR marketing strategy that gets results.

Long term application of a blended PR marketing strategy will take your brand to the next level. It builds your brand identity, drives consumer engagement, and fosters sustained growth. Such a comprehensive strategy is the most effective way to communicate brand stories.

All you need to understand is how PR and marketing work to realize their potential as a united strategy. Then your business will thrive.

Still not sure how to blend marketing and PR? Let us help! Simply book a free consultation with us to get expert insight into how to start or improve your PR marketing strategy.