Very philosophical indeed, but before I reveal the answer, let’s just work out what the difference between PR and marketing is.

Short Answer

The primary difference between the two is that marketing covers promotional activities, advertising and direct marketing to increase sales, and yes it generally comes with a price tag. 

Enter public relations activities. The sole purpose of PR is reputation management through generating positive media coverage and stakeholder communication. When I mean stakeholder, it’s not a bunch of angry vampire hunters but any persons who have a stake in your organisation (obvs, this includes your employees, suppliers, customers, social audience, etc.).

Long Answer

While both PR and marketing are to improve your brand positioning, their strategies and tactics, focus and measurements of success are very different.

Let me break it down. 

Primary focus

Marketing: to amp up sales activities through advertising and promotional stuff because there is a bottom line and that is to bring home the bacon.

PR: to manage your intra and inter-communication channels for consistency. It’s all about building and maintaining positive brand awareness and relationships with those folks with the stakes.

Target audience

Marketing: Current and potential customers.

PR: Well, kinda everybody. ALL your stakeholders, the media and the general public. Point is, people love great stories, so if you have one, you need to get it out for all to know. Downside? People also like scandals, so reputation management is a 24-hour business with lots of social listening and proactive exercises.

Tactics

Marketing: Plain and simple, mostly items you need to pay for either directly or indirectly in terms of tools or resources, like comprehensive CRM systems for your EDM campaigns, Association Memberships for your networking activities, trade shows or expos where you can exhibit your awesomeness, ads on TV, billboards, in print or online (cue the algorithm conundrums of social ads). The list goes on.

PR: writing media releases and alerts, securing speaking opportunities at industry conferences, writing speeches, generating award nominations, managing your relations with media (love thy journalist they’re your BFF), overall controlling the consistency of your brand personality. All of this to get the public talking about you in a nice way. Stuff money can’t buy, really.

Measuring success

Marketing: Success is generally measured by increases in sales revenue or in specific actions you want your customers to take, like the number of downloads of your lead magnet, the number of subscriptions to your YouTube channel, and so on.

PR: It’s all about gaining positive media exposure and influencing a positive change in perception. Generally focused on more long term results and is measured in a qualitative manner.

Overall superpowers

Marketing: The power to sell. You need to be good at this and you also need a budget because this is your shortest route to increased sales. On that note, beware, marketing is a walk in the park - on LEGO. 

PR: The power to change attitude and behaviour. This is the heavy stuff. Your key messages are way more effective when they are not coming from you but from the people around you. Positively influencing your brand image through your PR is priceless.

So, to get back to our very Shakespearean dilemma of PR or not to PR? It’s a definite YES from me. We live in a socially-connected world where consumers want ethical brands with transparency and a commitment to their communities. If you are that brand and your people know it, you’re definitely onto a winner. If you need to lift the curtain on your greatness, but not sure how, just give us a shout.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to know more? Please comment below.

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