The differences between PR and Marketing

I find it interesting when people glibly interchange or merge the words public relations and marketing in the same sentence and, increasingly these days, into the same job.
I trained and worked as a journalist and then moved seamlessly into the role of Press Officer and worked alongside Marketing Officers. Two different job roles with two different skill sets and, most importantly, two different people.
Companies now cut corners and costs by employing a press & marketing or a marketing & press employee, again interchanging the words purposefully due to their priorities or perhaps even naivety, but could run the risk of hiring a jack-of-all-trades.

Moving forward, businesses are finding that, with ever-tighter communications budgets, the solution is to use external experts to provide these separate services, such as the ones provided by DEadlines, as and when they are required and benefit from expertise in PR or marketing depending on the bespoke needs of the project.

So let’s look at the fundamental differences between PR and marketing?

My simple answer is the four C’s; control, communication, content and cost.

Perhaps the most misunderstood difference is the level of control which PR and marketing offer a company.
Marketing, and more importantly its budget, gives the company free rein over precisely when, where and what it says about itself in the public arena. Therefore, utilising the skills of professional designers and copywriters such as DEadlines, you have 100% control over your communication with your public.
PR lacks this outright control as your information passes through the hands of an intermediary, usually a journalist, before it is presented to the public.
If information is appropriately presented via an editorial-desk-friendly press release and professional sell-in, then the five Ws (who, when, where, what and why) stand a good chance of being well-presented to your intended audience. However, it must be remembered that the media is not under any obligation to replicate the information verbatim, or at all.

The ultimate aim of both PR and marketing is to promote a brand, boost business and achieve sales but this is where the similarities end in terms of the format of the ‘communication’ with the public.
PR puts the spotlight on building relationships and, more importantly, ‘trust’, viewing the public as individuals whereas marketing views the public as the ‘market’, the potential catchment as a whole body, focusing on sales statistics rather than people.
PR has perhaps longer-term goals, building relationships rather than the immediate generation of sales. For example, a newspaper ad’ about a new shop with a one-off promotion may prompt a reader to go and buy the reduce-price product, job done, end of story. A PR campaign based around a charity opening day at the same shop may still prompt the reader to go along and buy but, more importantly, it establishes the foundations of a sustainable relationship by communicating more of a ‘story’ about the shop, its owners, staff and ethos.

Marketing, in terms of its content, is all about the ‘spin’; the use (manipulation) of words or images to present goods or services in a way which draws the crowds and makes the sale with a clinical finite approach. In line with my own experience and work ethos at DEadlines, the content of a PR campaign is based on traditions of integrity and transparency.
The content of PR campaigns are just the beginning of the story; an eye-catching piece of news which initiates an ongoing relationship between your customer, as the reader, viewer or listener, and your business.
DEadlines’ PR focuses on authentic, reliable and attention-grabbing creativity which can make a ‘story’ out of almost anything and build sustainable relationships between the business,the customer and the media.

PR costs less than marketing!
Traditionally-speaking, the marketing versus PR debate wouldn’t be complete without the observation that the Control guaranteed by marketing practices comes at a price whereas editorial coverage is free.
Without sponsorship or external funding aid that a charity or not-for-profit organisation may be able to source, a typical business marketing campaign involves direct payments for media advertising, design, space and printing costs for materials.
Of course, PR can be completely FOC if a company or organisation opts to deal directly with the media rather than working with someone experienced in the field to produce and sell-in a ‘story’. However, this can be false economy, non-productive and even backfire if the media are not led in the right direction by the person presenting the story.

DEadlines is able to offer cost-effective PR and copywriting services built around the client’s specific needs for ad-hoc projects and retains a realistic awareness of the aforementioned tightness of communications budgets.

We also offer opportunities such as free help and advice and generous discounts for charities, not-for-profit and community organisations.

Despite the four C differences between PR and marketing, the lines of the two methodologies blur when it comes to social media and our use of the www as a shop window. Are blogs, FaceBook and Twitter PR or marketing? Food for thought and a future DEadlines blog!

It is essentially paramount for a business or organisation to consider what they want to achieve by using either PR, marketing or a blend of both, and what will be most efficient and effective for them, considering the four ‘Cs’.

In a nutshell, is it more important for you to invest in selling your service or product through marketing methods or to use PR to heighten your company’s public image and build customer relationships through an understanding of your service or product? Or do you want / need to do both?

Let me know what you think and thank you for reading.

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