Public Relations Versus Marketing: What are the Differences?

Marketing and public relations (PR) are both important activities for businesses of any size, and they both involve innovation. But how do they differ, exactly?

Public Relations Versus Marketing

If the lines seem like a blur to you, the distinctions below can provide you with clarification.

Separate Purposes

Each one has a distinct purpose. Marketers aim to reach out to customers to encourage them to buy a product or service from the business in the future

As for PR, it is about selling the business itself. That involves maintaining positive interactions with the company, employees, customers, and shareholders.

While a great marketing strategy generally has the objective to boost sales, PR strives to create or maintain a positive reputation for the business. When you think about it, a reputation can make or break a company, so it is important to maintain a great one.

Who Do They Target?

Each one has a target audience, although they differ. In other words, who do businesses want to reach with marketing, and is that different than with PR?

The answer is “yes.” Marketing strategies are designed to reach customers; that includes both existing and potential ones.

Meanwhile, PR focus on maintaining a positive relationship with anyone who has an interest in the business or brand. That includes more people than only customers, extending to the media, employees, and those who have investments in the company, as well.

Interpretation by Readers 

Both marketers and PR firms post content, such as articles and blog posts, in order to provide value to readers. However, they are often regarded differently by readers. 

An article written by a marketing specialist might be seen as providing only a means to get a sale, for example. Generally, a PR article is more credible in the eyes of the reader. However, articles can be seen as more professional when associated with the name of an expert in the field.

Length of Results

The strategies last different lengths of time, as well. Marketing strategies have a relatively short timeframe, and the results occur quickly.

However, results for PR activities from leading PR agencies NYC are long-lasting. The activities are a valuable investment that show its results over the years when a brand stays recognizable in people’s minds.

Measuring Return on Investment

They also differ in the ways in which they measure their return on investment (ROI) for businesses. For marketing, getting new customers is usually a sign of a good ROI.

Meanwhile, PR value is measured partly by the number of media impressions or placements. Its ROI is also measurable by the number of social media mentions and an increase in website traffic. These are concrete ways to measure changes in mindset among the public.

Where They Focus Online

The digital space features both marketing and PR activities. Marketers usually set their sights on ads, promotions, articles, blogs, and search marketing.

Online PR activities focus on building a brand’s online image, and they often do so by using social media channels. Leading firms may also combine PR with marketing strategies by creating visual or written content that features branded stories that fit within the company goals. 

PR agencies can also focus on protecting the reputation of a business. That can include crisis management strategies to minimize any damage. They must happen quickly in order to prevent bad publicity from going viral.

The PR specialists understand which communication tools to use, and when. For example, they might suggest a mix of press releases, executive bios, blog posts, and company fact sheets.

Why Businesses Need to Distinguish Between Them

For businesses, it is important to understand the differences between marketing and PR. As the differences above show, they have distinct roles, and it’s important not to lose one or assume that one type of strategy will cover both areas.

With that said, it’s also clear from the list above that PR and marketing strategies often rely on one another. For a business to be at its best communication-wise, it usually requires both types of activities to be in motion.

For example, marketing approaches are usually more successful when the company has had a successful PR strategy. If a customer trusts the company because it has a strong, positive reputation, then it is often easier to sell a customer a product or service.

About Advertising

So, where does advertising fit into the equation? Ads are part of business marketing activities, and they include brand messages. 

They differ from PR-generated content that has a journalistic approach. It is not commercial-looking in any way, unlike an advertisement that is part of a marketing approach. Thus, PR professionals would say that their editorial content is neutral and, therefore, has added credibility, which is true.

Effects of PR on Business

When PR is done correctly, it can help an organization to retain and grow their customer base. That is because PR activities build and maintain a positive feeling about a brand by targeting its communications toward influencers, journalists, and analysts. While you cannot control their responses, your PR specialist can control the message, including the design and written content.

For customers, they feel good about the brand and trust it, which increases their loyalty towards it. Thus, when they are looking for the type of product that you sell, they are more likely to purchase it from you than from a competitor.

The external communications of a company obviously contribute to its success and image. The right PR pro will make sure that external communications deliver a consistent message about a brand and are targeted to a certain group. 

Final Words on PR and Marketing for Business

For a business to have long-term success, it must use both PR and marketing strategies. Doing so will build and maintain a positive brand image and increase sales. 

When the business reputation is strong, it will survive even if sales dip, such as in a recession. The company is likely to recover because of PR actions that are clear, timely, and relevant. The internal and external communications that PR involves are vital to a business of any size.