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PR and Marketing: What’s the Difference?

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Published on June 11, 2019, at 11:59 a.m.
by Dasia Greer.

Yes, public relations and marketing have similarities. No, they are not the same.

One of the most common-known misconceptions in the workforce is that PR and marketing are identical. While most people outside of these professions come to this generalization because of a lack of knowledge, professionals in these fields are well-versed in the similarities and differences in PR and marketing.

While both fields aim to increase awareness and to create brand identities, PR and marketing have two completely different approaches, goals and methods of execution.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, PR is defined as a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

The American Marketing Association describes 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.”

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

PR focuses on reputation management through earning trust and creating mutually beneficial communication with key publics while marketing focuses on increasing direct sales through promotional and direct advertising. In summation, marketing’s primary objective is to sell a product, while PR’s objective is to sell a company or brand by maintaining positive channels of communication between the company/brand and its target audiences.

In addition to having different goals and target audiences, PR and marketing use different methods of creating content and disseminating information to increases awareness of a product or company/brand.

Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing “designed to draw visitors and potential customers in, rather than outwardly pushing a brand, product or service onto prospects in the hope of generating leads or customers.”

To disseminate information, strengthen brand recognition and establish a company/brand’s image, PR utilizes tools such as press releases, client newsletters, and campaigns on outlets such as radio, television and digital media.

While PR and marketing methods are greatly contrasted with one another, the gradual intertwining of PR and marketing is reflected in the following statistic: 61% of PR professionals believe public relations will become more closely aligned with marketing over time. 

So if you once thought PR and marketing were basically the same, don’t feel bad. You and many others have shared the same misconception. But understanding the difference in PR and marketing is understanding how these two fields work diligently to achieve different end goals, for different target audiences, with different methods of execution.

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