The Difference in PR and Marketing
There is a common misconception that public relations (PR) and marketing are synonymous. It’s easy to see their similarities and get them confused. PR and marketing can look alike and the business practices work closely together, but knowing the difference between the two could be the key your company needs to unlock the door to a whole new world. Knowing how to utilize PR and marketing to their fullest potential can launch your company into a new season of growth. The world is constantly changing and having an adequate grasp on PR, marketing, and how the practices are different, but work together, will enable you to proactively adapt to future changes in your industry or our world.
What is PR?
To effectively implement PR into your company’s communication strategy, first, you must understand it. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines public relations as “the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm or institution,” but what does that actually mean?
PR is the art of enhancing or maintaining the public’s opinion of a company, idea, initiative, individual or brand, through storytelling and action. It’s a strategic practice that creatively connects your brand to your audience, promotes their understanding of your brand, shapes their perception of your brand and ultimately, changes their behavior in a way that benefits your brand.
Through PR, organizations and individuals establish trust, demonstrate benevolence and build credibility among their audiences. A strong proactive public relations strategy is multi-leveled. While most think of PR in terms of media engagement, which is a vital element, companies should also consider integrating employee relations, community relations, investor relations, and consumer relations strategies into their communications plan, depending on their goals.
What qualities do you most look for in a friend? Most would say honesty, loyalty, and similarity in values, among others. Simply put, the same goes for businesses choosing other businesses to work alongside, or individuals choosing causes or initiatives to support. Public relations is the practice of establishing and communicating about your reputation, which will build trust and encourage others to choose you.
Being portrayed positively in the news lends to your brand’s credibility while boosting visibility and shaping the public’s perspective, but PR tactics don’t end with favorable media coverage or a successful press conference. Knowing which tools and tactics work best for your organization will strengthen your PR plan.
Common PR Tactics:
- Earned and paid media
- Focus groups and community meetings
- Internal communications newsletters
- Strategic events
- Community involvement
- Award submissions and honors
What is Marketing?
People often try to put marketing in a box. They limit themselves believing marketing consists of a few social media posts, some branded pens, and maybe a billboard on the side of the road if it’s in the budget this year. While all three can be successful tactics, it’s just the beginning. Strong marketing requires strategy.
Different from a public relations strategy, a marketing strategy is focused on convincing your audience to buy, or buy into, your product or service. Early on, marketing professionals learn about “The Four Ps,” which are product, price, promotion, and place. It’s the promotion part of marketing that often gets confused with public relations, but the two are not the same.
Before promoting your product or service, you must first consider how what you offer is different and better than your competitors’ offerings. Then, you’ll analyze how you can “make the sale” to your consumer, based on their behavior. After you’ve determined what draws your audience in, you can begin to create content that appeals to them. Your result should be a marketing strategy designed to target your customers on the right platform, at the right time, and with the right message. Need help? Here is a resource that breaks down how to build a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Marketing relies on positioning your product or service in a way that evokes a response from your audience. You can shake up your company’s marketing efforts in a way that skyrockets your return on investment (ROI) when you strategically utilize marketing tactics.
Below is a list of competitive marketing tools. Note, some may work better for your organization than others.
Common Marketing Tactics:
- Traditional, digital, and video advertising
- Social media advertising
- Branded material
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Lead forms
- Email campaigns
Comparing PR and Marketing
Now that you can define PR and marketing, let’s take a closer look and compare the two.
When looking at the diagram above, it’s easy to see the differences between public relations and marketing practices. A company will use public relations practices to establish and manage its reputation. On the other hand, marketing practices are used to sell a product or service.
While one implements a PR strategy for different reasons than one would a marketing strategy, there’s one clear similarity between the two practices. Both are used to influence the opinions and behavior of a target audience. If you understand both public relations and marketing enough to combine both into your communications strategy, you can create a three-dimensional picture of your brand.
How PR and Marketing Work Together for Good
As you begin using PR to establish trust and a reputation with your audience, you can then use marketing to position and place your brand so your audience will interact with and buy your product or service. Knowing the unique functions of both PR and marketing enables you to reach a new level of brand credibility and authenticity.
Having a PR plan in place will make putting the time and resources into a comprehensive strategic marketing plan worth it. When the pieces come together, you can establish your brand and nurture your audience most effectively.
Great brands use the art of building trust and encouraging goodwill through PR to give their marketing efforts the credibility it needs to back up its products and services. Knowing the difference between PR and marketing will enable you to pull ahead of the competition and become known as an expert in your field. Incorporate both strategic PR and strategic marketing into your business plan to propel your brand forward.
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