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So, what’s the difference between marketing and PR?

Is it like comparing apples with oranges? The differences between marketing and PR can be confusing. And, who wouldn’t be confused! The evolving digital world and the creative ways that business and services are connecting with others, inspiring audiences, building their reputation and selling products and services can make the line between the two blurry.

Marketing and PR fit well together; they have commonalities that complement each other. It’s up to you how and if you choose to use marketing, PR, or both, to build your business or service.

As a PR and communication specialist, I naturally gravitate towards the obvious. But I make no mistake; marketing and PR are both a necessary part of an integrated marketing communication mix for any business or service. The real key lies in knowing and understanding what, when and how to implement the mix.

In a nutshell, Marketing aims to connect the business or service with existing and potential customers or clients to increase sales and overall business performance. PR, with similar reasons, focuses on image building and aims to personify a business or service and to connect with anyone who has an interest in it.

What is marketing?

Marketing is made up of the 7 P's: Product, Placement, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence. The promotional element, which is my focus, is all about making sure people are aware of the business or service; what it does, where it is located and how to access it. The goals are to reach the business audience and make them think, believe or do some kind of sales focused action. It consists of primarily ‘paid’ activities.

Here’s some examples of marketing promotion activities:

  • Advertising

Billboard, Facebook, magazine, Pay Per Click (PPC)

  • Advertorial

An ad that fits in with the topic, tone and style of the publication or the digital channel

  • Case Study

A customer story which details a problem and shows how the business or service helped to provide a solution

  • Competitions

An activity where customers or an audience have a chance to win something, or receive a discount, in exchange for their participation

  • Content marketing

Creating and sharing online material, such as videos, blogs, and social media posts, that don’t explicitly promote a business, but are intended to stimulate interest in products or services

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Developing content and enhancing a website so that it’s easily found by search engines

What is PR?

PR is made up of strategic communication, engagement and media relations. Its focus is on selling the business or service through positively managing the communication channels between the business and its stakeholders. PR is ‘earned’. It’s about what a neutral or objective third party has to say about the business or service, rather than what the business or service states.

Here’s some examples of PR activities:

  • Blogging

Primarily written content but also often includes audio, visual and video; it can present findings or answer specific questions customers, clients or target audience often ask

  • Events

Live streaming or meetup, they’re well-planned occasions where attendees gather physically or online

  • Media outreach

Information strategically provided to a media outlet or journalist to encourage coverage of a business or service

  • Newsletters

Printed or electronic, they contain news about business and service activities and are sent to members, customers, employees and other subscribers

  • Social Media

Online communities where people come together and share information often via micro-messaging, images, and links

  • Speaking engagements

Opportunities to speak in front of an audience on a topic that is important, interesting or moving

Do your customers or clients know who you are, how you operate, where to find you and understand what you offer? How established are you in your community, how is your reputation and are you valued? How you answer these questions will guide your decision-making when considering the marketing and PR solutions that are right for your business or service.

There will be times when one may be called upon more than the other, and that will be determined by the climate in which a business or service operates, how it performs and the challenges it faces.


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