The Differences Between Marketing and Public Relations

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Recently I’ve been sharing a lot of information on Better Than Success about public relations, and how you can effectively launch a PR campaign for your business, even if you don’t have a huge budget. I hope that you’ve been able to put some of those tips in place in your business and start getting your name out there for all of the awesome things you’re doing.

But based on some of the feedback we’ve been getting, I wanted to take the time to clarify the difference between marketing and public relations.

Social media has really blurred the lines between marketing and public relations, especially now that businesses are advertising on pretty much every social media platform. Today, it’s really difficult to tell where the marketing ends and the public relations begins. But if you’re going to be successful with both your marketing and PR campaigns you need to know the difference, and clearly distinguish between the two, at least internally.

Let’s discuss the major differences between marketing and public relations!

A lot of people mistakenly believe that PR will have an impact on your bottom line, and it may overtime, but the payoff is not immediate. PR is about developing and maintaining strong relationships and creating an environment where your business can grow and thrive.

Now, I know that many business owners will say that since PR will not contribute immediately to your bottom line, there’s really no reason to focus on it. But that is absolutely not true. PR works for your business overtime, and helps you to increase your exposure.

But as I said earlier, social media has helped to blur the lines between your marketing and your PR. So if you’re still a little unclear about the differences, here are four specific areas where PR and marketing differ:

1. Focus

Remember, your marketing focuses on selling your products and services while public relations focuses on relationships. So on Facebook when you post something that gives people a glimpse of you with your dog on your business page, that would be PR— that helps your followers feel like you’re a real person. But if you post a flyer promoting your new product, that is marketing.

2. Function

PR and Marketing serve two different purposes. Marketing directly contributes to your bottom line, but public relations’ function is to indirectly support your business’ mission, goals, and objectives. Your mission may be to help improve the quality of life in your community. You do that by donating a portion of your proceeds to community clean-ups. That’s PR. But if you make your money selling painting supplies, you have to market those supplies to generate income.

3. Target

Who is the target? In marketing, the target is the customer. A marketer’s goal is to meet customer demands in order to sell products and services. On the other hand, public relations targets a range of stakeholders: customers, community, investors, media, etc. PR also has several goals, mostly to indirectly impact the business’ goals.

How to Market to Your Customers

4. Price

Paid media

In marketing, you pay for media. Point blank. This could include print, radio, television, or social media advertising. Paid media plays a major role in the campaign and makes up the majority of the budgets.

Owned media

Owned media are media that actually belongs to you. Now to be clear this does not include your social media sites. While you contribute to them, you don’t own them and if Twitter closed shop tomorrow, you wouldn’t have any of the tweets you shared, any of your followers, or anything else to show for it. On the other hand, you do own your website and your blog, and any other content you’ve created that lives on your own platform: ebooks, audio, etc. All of these are extremely essential in the world of social media because original content is what matters most.

Earned media

Earned or “free” media is what you get as a result of a successful PR campaign. Earned media is when someone else; bloggers, journalists, podcasters, etc., talk about you and your business. Earned media is seen as more credible than paid media because of third party endorsements. In other words, when someone else tells people how great you are, people are more likely to believe it over you bragging about yourself.

Simply put marketing is all about sales. Your marketing focus should be on your customers, and how to get them to purchase your products, and public relations focuses on your company’s image. PR is not only focused on your customers but any stakeholders, the media, investors, etc. Marketing is the work you specifically sell your products and service, and PR is the work you do to develop your relationships and reputation. But both are essential to effectively grow your business. Do not neglect either of these, even if you feel like you don’t have a lot of money to spend or time to get it done. There are plenty of low-cost ways that you can launch your marketing and PR campaigns, even if you don’t have a huge budget.