Opinion: PR versus marketing - how different can it be?

Opinion: PR versus marketing – how different can it be?

Former marketer Meg Dibb-Fuller, now senior client executive at Milk and Honey PR, lists the key differences she has encountered between the two disciplines since moving into public relations.


Coming from a marketing background, I often get asked how PR differs from marketing.

Since moving from the marketing world over to PR, I have learnt a LOT. I repeat, a LOT. PR isn’t just ‘free marketing’ (like I used to say).

Instead, I’ve realised it’s like a secret lock into another world. You are building relationships, developing an understanding of a brand and nurturing its reputation. Creating preference but also engagement. PR can be used to launch, protect, lobby, inform and to grow, well, anything. It’s the art of influence.

Here are some of key differences on how I now view the world of PR:

Activities


  • Marketing covers promotional, direct marketing and advertising. It is primarily to return on direct sales. ROI is a non-negotiable!
  • PR is focused on reputation management. YOU are in control of generating media opportunities and stakeholder communication. Impressive, huh?

Audience


  • Marketing aims to reach current and potential customers.
  • PR is all about developing and maintaining positive relationships with anyone who has an interest in the organisation or brand. This is so much broader, from customers, government, trade bodies and regulators, competitors, analysts and academics to media, employees AND shareholders. Anymore for anymore?

Objectives


  • Typically, a marketing team’s goals are to reach buyers and encourage them to make a purchase. Sales focused action people. Essentially, it is about selling a product or service.
  • A PR goal is still about selling the company or brand but in a completely different way. How you might ask? You manage the communication channels between a company and its stakeholders and drive the key messages. This can be directly or indirectly through media.

Longevity


  • Marketing seeks to drive instant sales. Thus, success is a relatively short-term activity in comparison to PR.
  • The benefits of a PR programme can be viewed as a long-term investment that a company would recognise for future achievements… SO IMPORTANT!

What does this mean for a business? How do you choose?

The industry is experiencing great change with the growth of so many new, online channels to find and engage with customers and prospects. Beyond the so-called ‘traditional’ PR or marketing approach, PR is becoming central to marketing and marketing increasingly looks more like PR. Both are reliant on one another for a business to succeed.

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