Have you ever asked the question What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Public Relations?
The terms marketing and public relations are often used interchangeably by people. They both involve strategy, content creation, and communicating messages to audiences. There are some nuanced differences between the two.
Marketing is the process of making what a company has to offer appealing to a customer so it is purchased. With regards to the internet, that includes formulating SEO strategies so the company or product can be found. It involves market research to hear what customers think and say about the product in their own words. It involves picking the product colors, name, font, sales message, price point, distribution channels, forecasting, timelines, and all the other details that go into product creation.
Public relations is to encourage goodwill in the community toward a company, its products and its services. It’s also to encourage public understanding of what’s being promoted. Public relations is free media placement unlike advertising, where radio time slots, TV or magazine space are purchased and carefully crafted ads are then placed in the hopes the audience will notice them.
The foundation of public relations is press releases, and pitching them to appropriate media contacts. An account executive writes a one-page release with an angle to it, making it fresh, relevant and timely. If it’s a piece on travel they contact the transportation editors at the local news stations and newspapers. Journalists reliably have space they need to fill on a schedule, and are always looking for good content to fill it. By giving them company or product information with a good story, journalists can use it and it often gets shared with the public.
Events are another way to promote services, products, or a company through public relations. Flash mobs, community seminars, and baby photo contests are just three examples of how information can be shared with the community without paying for its placement. Local media, always looking for stories, will generally pickup these events and disseminate them to the community.
Three Main Areas of Difference between Marketing and PR
Main objective: ROI versus image – Marketing is analytical, used to increase product interest, and ultimately, sales. Marketing budgets are justified because the money spent is significantly less than the amount of money a product or service sales bring in as a result. Public relations activities encourage brand awareness and goodwill towards a company or brand. Public relations’ main goal is building positive relationships with a target audience.
Control: Complete versus limited – With marketing, a company retains complete control over branding, messaging, and promotional materials. With public relations, once the information is shared with the media, there is no control over what happens next, or if the information is even used at all.
Cost: Paid versus unpaid – Marketing is a paid activity that usually comes with a large budget. Working with a PR agency costs money in exchange for their people’s time and ideas, but the actual placement of stories, products, companies or events getting pick up by the media, the results of their work, occur at no cost to the company.
Through the introduction of social media, the lines between purist marketing and public relations activities are becoming blurred. Know what your ultimate goals are, and strategise the best and most cost-effective ways to achieve them.
Usually it’s a combination of the two that proves most beneficial.