What is the difference between public relations and marketing?

The traditional view of marketing is that it is about creating demand for a product or service through promotion and advertising. In contrast, traditional Public Relations focuses on maintaining and improving the reputation of an organization or individual. However, in recent years there has been a shift in the role of Public Relations, with a focus on influencer engagement and being more educational and informative. This new approach is often data-driven and takes lessons learned from case studies to provide insights and apply them to real-world situations. As a result, public relations is now playing a more important role in the marketing mix.

What are the goals of each?

Public Relations is the process of creating and maintaining relationships between an organization and the public. The goals of PR are to educate the public about the organization, provide validity to the organization's claims, and build goodwill between the organization and the public. In order to achieve these goals, PR experts use a variety of techniques, including media relations, event planning, and social media. In essence, Public Relations is about finding problems and providing solutions. By educating the public and providing factual information, public relations helps to create a positive image for the organization.

What are some PR and marketing tactics?

There's earned media and then there's paid media. Earned media is the kind of PR that happens when you get someone else to talk about your product or service. You can do this by pitching your story to the right journalist or by creating content that is so share-worthy that it goes viral all on its own. Paid media, on the other hand, is when you actually pay someone to talk about your product or service. This can be through traditional advertising channels like TV commercials or print ads, or through more modern channels like online banner ads or sponsored posts on social media. Both earned and paid media have their place in a well-rounded marketing strategy. But earned media is often more trusted by consumers and therefore more effective in driving sales.

How do you know which one to use?

There are two types of media: earned media and paid media.

Earned media is press coverage that you have earned by contacting appropriate reporters, editors or writers. Paid media is sponsored media and read more like advertisement. A paid article will sometimes read that it is "sponsored," which indicates that the organization paid for the placement. Paid media is often articles that you write yourself so you can position the article to reflect what you want.

Earned press starts with pitching - so you need to research the publication, the journalist and then write a pitch that will resonate with the journalist based on what you have see he writes about, is interested in or what is trending in the news. If you need a quick article in a mainstream publication like Forbes, for instance, but your outreach has been unsuccessful (no reporter is interested), then you have the option to pay for it to be published.

Let us be reminded that Sponsored articles do not provide the same credibility or validity that earned media wins provide. Public Relations is really about adding cred and validity to your product, service, your brand and enhances your thought leadership. If you pay for it, keen eyes and minds will be able to unearth the fact that you paid for coverage as opposed to earn it through merit. On the other hand, you can sponsor a speaking spot at a conference where you can speak to your target audience for anywhere from 10 minutes to 60 minutes about any topic you want, and that can be an efficient use of paid or sponsored media opportunity.

What is the key takeaway about PR?

Public relations (PR) and marketing both aim to increase visibility and build relationships, but they differ in important ways.

Public Relations:

• Focuses on educating your audiences on a problem and a solution, while marketing focuses on selling a product or solution.

• Is all about creating or establishing credibility and validity around your work in the industry.

• Through earned media, you share your ideas, tactics, introduce yourself and your team; and continuously educate through data, facts, and metrics.

Marketing may use some similar tactics, but its focus is narrower, generally driving conversions through paid placements. Public relations has a longer timeline and requires more patience, but ultimately builds more trust—and that can lead to more sales down the road.

In Summary

So, what’s the difference between public relations and marketing? In short, marketing is about selling a product or service, while PR is about building relationships. The goals of each are different as well – marketing seeks to increase sales, while PR aims to build trust and credibility. Even some of the tactics used in each discipline are different: marketing might use advertising or discounts, while PR may use earned media or press releases. So how do you know which one to use? It depends on your situation and your goals. If you want to increase sales quickly, marketing is probably your best bet. But if you’re looking to build long-term relationships with customers or stakeholders, PR is the way to go. Of course, there are pros and cons to both disciplines – but that’s a topic for another day. When it comes time to decide whether public relations or marketing will help you achieve your business goals, ask yourself this question: What problem am I trying to fix? What product am I developing? How am I innovating? Your answers will point you in the right direction.