PR and marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Not only do they rely on the art of storytelling, but both are critical components to a winning communication plan.
However, the two are often grouped as synonyms to the dismay of PR and marketing professionals everywhere.
Today, Ignite Visibility’s Digital PR Manager, Izzy Evans, will be exploring some of the key differences between both disciplines.
What We’ll Cover:
- What is PR?
- What is Marketing?
- PR vs. Marketing
- When to Hire a PR Agency
- When to Hire a Marketing Agency
- Integrating PR and Marketing
What is PR?
From brand reputation to cyber crime, the business world continues to struggle with the spread of information, making the mastery of public relations a necessity.
This is how the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) defines PR—“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other. Public Relations broadly applies to organizations as a collective group, not just a business; and publics encompass the variety of different stakeholders.”
To put this into perspective, take a look at the typical duties a PR professional needs to perform:
- Managing Brand Image—Managing and maintaining your company’s image is essentially the definition of public relations. To do this, you’ll want to look at your organization’s most positive attributes and build a narrative around that. In the event that the brand is having an internal or external crisis, pivot your messaging. PR is a moving target and ensuring your company is viewed in positive light can make or break your brand.
- Pitching—Whether you’re announcing something major like a new product or service or even something minor like a revamped logo, this type of information should be shared with the public. Writing tailored pitches can help get the right facts out to the reporters and create buzz around the story.
- Meeting with Media Professionals—The more you pitch, the more opportunities you create. Securing interviews with respected news outlets and publications or scheduling speaking events are all part of the weekly grind for publicists.
- Building Relationships—With PR, it’s all about who you know. That’s why relationship-building is crucial to a company’s lasting success. But gaining trust and respect of clients isn’t something that happens overnight. Curating a media list that features all the people you want to reach out to can help you stay on track.
- Developing High-Quality Content—Similar to marketing, writing is indispensable to PR. In addition to pitches, writing great press releases, articles, and briefing sheets are critical.
What is Marketing?
Put simply, marketing encompasses the activities conducted by a brand to effectively promote their products or services.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) Board of Directors defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
As this definition implies, marketing is something you need to do on a consistent basis to keep your business moving forward.
Implementing marketing strategies can help facilitate that process, whether you want to reach new audiences, grow your following, or keep your existing customer base happy.
Here are a few examples of marketing-related tasks you can deploy:
- Launching Campaigns—One of the most important tasks a marketer can perform involves building successful campaigns that showcase a product or service. This is fundamental in promoting, educating, and selling products or services to both consumers and prospects.
- Conducting Research—If you want to know what drives a business, you need to have a solid understanding of things like company history, buyer personas, the effectiveness of past campaigns, and everything in between. Being privy to this type of information will help justify resources spent and will you prepare you for other business decisions moving forward. This also includes extensive market research to better understand the industry and how your company stacks up against the competition.
- Social Media Management—Social media advertising and posts are a great way to connect with your company’s fans and audience. Each social platform has easy to use tools to produce ads that help you effectively target desired demographics. Regular weekly posts, including past media features, specific landing pages, blog posts, and more, are vital to staying relevant. A marketing team typically designates someone to create a social media calendar, which helps keep social posts consistent.
- Buying Advertising—Purchasing ad space with Google Ads or any other outlet, be it radio or print, is a huge component of effective marketing. Doing it successfully will mean low costs and high rewards for clients or your company.
- Creating Content—Writing is a huge component of marketing and used across many channels. Of course, there is short and sweet copy used in ads and on social media. Yet, creating content for newsletters, websites, blog posts, landing pages, and whitepapers requires a bit more heavy lifting and strategy.
PR vs. Marketing
So what’s the main difference between marketing and public relations? Let’s break it down:
Metrics of Success
Here’s how PR professionals view success from their point of view:
- Was there any positive press in relevant leading news stations and trade publications about the product, service, or the company as a whole?
- Were there any awards won at a high-profile industry event?
- Was there any buzz from social media followers, journalists, or any industry influencers about the product, service, or the company as a whole?
If a marketer wants to determine whether or not their campaign was successful, this is what they look at:
- Did the product or service being marketed meet or exceed sales expectations?
- Comparing the cost of the launch to the profits made, was the ROI of the campaign high?
- Did you generate enough buzz from customers, social media, and the general public?
On any given day, here are the duties a PR professional could be working on:
- Writing a press release about a new company initiative
- Securing a speaking opportunity for an executive at an upcoming industry event
- Nurturing relationships with members of the press and other industry influencers
- Creating talking points and communicating a company crisis directly to the press
On that same day, a marketer could be taking the following actions:
- Developing a social media campaign for a new product
- Creating marketing materials for product launches, like brochures, one-sheets, landing pages, and FAQs for the sales team
- Conducting market research to help ensure the marketing campaigns are targeting the right people at the right time
- Drafting a weekly or monthly newsletter showcasing a certain product or service
When to Hire a PR Agency
- If your business objectives are well-established
- If you have enough of your own connections to build the foundation
- If you’re planning to announce the launch of a new product or service
- If you want to rebrand, build brand awareness, and gain recognition
- If you’re looking for a PR agency that has extensive expertise in your niche
When to Hire a Marketing Agency
- If you’re a smaller or medium-sized start-up
- If you’re a larger brand that’s looking to streamline processes
- If your in-house team is stretched too thin
- If you’re seeking people with more diverse skill sets
- If you want to gain access to more influencer databases
Integrating PR and Marketing
In the early days of marketing, you could reach your target audience with just a few touchpoints. An event here, a press release there…you get the idea.
Now, companies have to utilize everything in their PR and marketing toolbox in order to stay competitive. And it turns out that taking an integrated approach has proved to yield the best results for businesses big and small.
If you want to successfully blend both methods into one cohesive communications strategy, consider the following tips:
Maintain Consistent Messaging. Depending on the medium of your messaging, the brand story and value proposition need to be consistent across all channels of outreach. If marketing and PR efforts aren’t in alignment, this can’t be achieved.
Use PR to Strengthen Content. From articles to executive presentations, brands invest a ton of time and money into content development. PR efforts are specifically designed to amplify this content. This, in turn, can effectively move people down the marketing funnel. Use the combined power of PR and marketing to publish content that will reach, engage, and drive your audience to buy.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize. Marketers have long been focused on optimizing content in online promotional materials to ensure they’re easy for customers to find. SEO specialization shouldn’t just be used to boost the visibility of marketing content, but on PR items as well—press releases, blogs, editorials, etc.— by optimizing the copy around certain keywords.
In the battle of PR vs. marketing, there’s no clear winner. In fact, you could say they’re two sides of the same coin.
Both have overlapping qualities and play vital roles in accomplishing a company’s long-term and short-term goals.
Despite their distinctions, when used together, PR and marketing have the capacity to amplify the reach of your brand’s message and take your ROI to new heights.