Public Relations vs. Marketing & Why You Need Both in 2021

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Both marketing and public relations (PR) contribute to the development of brands and the communication with target audiences. When businesses attempt to increase their customer base and investment base, they may hire a public relations agency or marketing firm to drive a campaign.

Which type of agency should you look for, though?

Before contacting marketing or public relations agencies, it is critical to grasp the significant distinctions between the two professions. Though public relations is considered a subset of marketing, each area has a distinct focus: PR is concerned with public perception, whereas marketing is concerned with revenue generation.

The most fundamental distinction is that marketing or advertising space is purchased, but public relations outcomes are earned by delivering information to the media in news releases and pitches. For instance, you must buy online banner advertising space, but you may pitch a story to a journalism agency.

For your knowledge, there is also a concept known as “owned” media, which refers to the material you make for your website or the photographs and videos you generate for social media.

Now, let’s get down to it and examine the definitions for public relations and marketing and some of the other aspects that distinguish these two strategies while also exploring the similarities between them. Once you’ve read this article, you’ll understand just how much they connect and work together to boost your brand image in the public eye.

What Is Public Relations (PR)?

The term “public relations” is frequently used interchangeably with “publicity” or “media relations.” While it is undoubtedly part of it, most public relations professionals would tell you there is much more to it.

Public relations courses define public relations as “communicating with your publics,” which might include consumers, workers, investors, prospects, and, yes, even the media.

On the other hand, PRSA defines public relations as a strategic communication strategy that establishes mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. PRSA states that public relations are about influencing, engaging, and creating relationships with important stakeholders across a variety of platforms to define and frame an organization’s public impression.

Essentially, public relations has always been founded on successful communication, which often includes the following:

  • Media affairs and publicity
  • Management of crises
  • Internal discussions with employees
  • Branding and communication
  • Investor relations
  • Engagements in public speaking

What Is Marketing?

On the other hand, marketing is the process of promoting and selling items or services, which includes market research and advertising. It is the process of convincing people to select your product or service over those offered by rivals.

Historically, marketing has been more closely identified with campaigns and promotions aimed at increasing sales. Additionally, marketing frequently incorporates public relations and advertising as components of a greater effort.

For instance, certain marketing operations may involve the following:

  • Campaigns using email and direct mail
  • Webinars, e-books, and other methods of generating leads
  • Campaigns based on pay-per-click
  • Participation at trade shows
  • Search engine optimization

How Are PR & Marketing Similar to Each Other?

Public relations and advertising are conceptually similar: both aim to positively increase awareness of a company or product. Another parallel is that a corporation will frequently tailor its message to a specific audience in both circumstances. This might include residents of a particular place; individuals of a specific age, gender, or social status; or individuals with particular interests or hobbies.

Hence, while marketing and public relations have the same objective (creating a distinctive brand identity, increasing brand recognition, and increasing web traffic), their methods and executions are pretty different. And when the two approaches are combined, you have a significant marketing edge that you can use for campaigns, content, and much more.

PR vs. Marketing – What Makes Them Different?

Many individuals, including industry experts, struggle to distinguish between public relations and marketing. In recent years, social media has exacerbated the confusion by further blurring the distinctions between the two.

The uncertainty stems in large part from their numerous overlapping agendas and frequent collaboration. As a result, while their final goals may be similar, their strategies for achieving them are somewhat different.

The key distinction between the two is that marketing is concerned with promoting a specific product, service, or idea and growing sales, whereas public relations is concerned with preserving the company’s generally favorable reputation.

Now, to give you a detailed distinction, let’s break down the working process of public relations and marketing, including their strategies, focus and success measurement metrics.

1 | Focus

A critical distinction between public relations and marketing is their distinct objectives.

As previously said, marketing encompasses the promotion and advertising of a product or business to increase sales.

Public relations is concerned with the management of one’s reputation. Public relations is all about increasing visibility and establishing a company as an industry leader – through proactive talks with and placements in the media.

2 | Target Audience

While marketing aims to connect brands with consumers and investors, public relations establishes and fosters connections between brands and their target audiences.

Rather than explicitly marketing a product or service, a public relations business educates, raises brand awareness, and establishes thought leadership among important audiences.

Especially for small business-to-business (B2B) enterprises with limited resources, public relations agencies may assist in developing and maintaining relationships between a firm’s brand and its audiences.

3 | Measurement of Success

While both public relations and marketing work can be based on campaigns, each discipline has its own set of metrics for success.

Traditionally, the success of a marketing effort has been quantified directly in terms of sales and income. Marketers collaborate closely with a company’s sales staff to determine which strategies generated money and make necessary adjustments.

Alternatively, the strength of the relationships developed between a brand and its essential audiences is used to determine PR success.

More precisely, public relations efforts are frequently evaluated based on the quantity, quality, and tone of news items, the number of “impressions” generated by those articles (average monthly visitors or circulation), and the resulting traffic to a client’s website.

Other methods for determining the performance of public relations efforts include surveys and focus groups done before and following significant initiatives.

4 | Tactics

Another method to illustrate the key distinctions between the two disciplines is to compare the usual everyday operations of marketers and public relations specialists as follows:

Among the activities of B2B public relations are the following:

  • Examining prior media coverage and researching target media
  • Press release writing
  • Prospecting media sites for corporate news and trend stories
  • Coordination of executive speaking engagements at industry events
  • Providing talking points and media training to corporate executives
  • Producing material for blog posts, bylined articles, websites, SEO best practices, and the way the organization “indexes” on key search engines.

Among B2B marketing activities are the following:

  • Market research
  • Create a logo and slogan
  • Establishing advertising materials such as websites, brochures, and postcards
  • Developing pay-per-click (PPC) digital and print advertising strategies
  • Planning promotional efforts for the product or brand, such as booths at major industry conventions or sales missions to key markets.

PR agencies frequently use earned media initiatives, which means we do not pay for mentions or highlight features; instead, media members will write a story or include you in a roundup article, frequently just due to an existing connection.

Marketers frequently employed paid media to accomplish their objectives. But, again, here is where things can become complicated, as many marketers will wind up employing strategies similar to those used by public relations specialists when dealing with the media.

It’s equally critical to develop genuine connections with members of the media. On the other hand, advertisers will spend money to build public demand for a product or service.

5 | Superpowers

The superpower of marketing is the ability to sell. Advertising and other direct marketing techniques are the quickest way to boost sales.

Public relations’ superpower, on the other hand, is the ability to alter people’s opinions. When public relations channels deliver messages, they can be more persuasive, as people view articles and other third-party sources as more reputable than advertisements.

The Social Media Paradox

Social media has reshaped conventional marketing and public relations notions since sites like Instagram and Facebook often combine the two.

On the one hand, social media enables direct, relationship-building communication with the public, firmly placing it within the realm of public relations. On the other hand, social media content and advertising campaigns sell items and services directly to clients, implying that they are marketing activities.

There are valid reasons on both sides, but the correct response for your business will rely on your social media goals.

Let us concentrate on Facebook.

Your business created and maintains your Facebook account. Except for the expense of hiring someone to handle your page, it is practically free.

However, you may utilize Facebook for both public relations and commercial advertising purposes. If you pay to have your post “boosted,” this is classified as advertising. Boosted posts display higher in the news stream, increasing the likelihood that your audience will see them. Additionally, you may spread the information to audiences other than your followers.

On the other side, you may upload an adorable photo of your new corporate mascot, a lovely puppy, and instantly earn hundreds of likes, comments, and shares.

PR & Marketing Work Hand-in-Hand

Marketing and public relations cross during business-related events such as sales conferences, which bring together products or services and purchasers.

We’ve described three instances of how public relations and marketing might operate in tandem and how you should take advantage of them below:

1. Blogging

Businesses that blog and use targeted keywords are engaging in successful public relations and inbound marketing.

Fulfill each level of the buyer’s funnel with relevant content that addresses a specific issue or requirement.

2. Social Media

Public relations is all about communicating a positive and successful brand message to prospective customers. Guess what? So is inbound marketing.

Not only is social media an excellent tool for communicating with consumers, but it’s also an excellent resource for the media and press looking for content to utilize as a source.

3. Press Release

The primary objective of a public relations campaign surrounding a product launch, an event, or a new service offering is to increase awareness and create leads. However, after the buzz wears off and public attention wanes, inbound takes over.

Continue to fuel the marketing engine by cultivating brand loyalty and turning leads into consumers with content such as email campaigns, social media campaigns, newsletters, tailored call-to-action, and automated workflows.

Why You Need Both PR & Marketing for Your Business

While there are distinctions between public relations and marketing, the boundary between the two is increasingly blurred – especially when you include social media and content marketing in the mix.

After all, are you interacting with constituents, or is your business being promoted? Frequently, the answer is both.

When working with huge organizations, public relations and marketing distinctions become much more evident – and critical. For instance, if your firm is publicly listed, you’ll want a staff that understands how to manage quarterly earnings releases and investor communications.

If you run a small-to-medium-sized firm, the distinction is less significant. After all, you are unlikely to have an entire department dedicated to these techniques. But, if you’re fortunate, you may have a person or two. And there are instances when you have no one on staff at all.

You need a business or consultant that blends these approaches and can understand which tools to utilize and when. You may accomplish this by examining their skills and offerings.

The best organizations and consultants should understand how to blend marketing and public relations efforts to provide you with an effective strategy. And, if they cannot offer all of these services in-house, they should be able to assemble the right team or collaborate with external organizations and consultants to provide a coherent strategy.

At prMEDIA REACH, we take pleasure in our track record of success in media relations, as well as our ability to create integrated, personalized marketing communications plans for our customers. Not only do we focus on developing connections with the media, but we also assist our clients in establishing their brands’ reputations.

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