As someone with professional experience in both public relations and marketing, people always ask me this question. With the lines blurred due to the rise of social media, sponsored content, and the breakdown of traditional media relations, it is easy to see why someone who isn’t in the industry would be confused.
As a business owner, you probably often hear you need marketing and public relations strategies and tactics to support your brand. Still, those are usually not defined from each other, creating more confusion.
I am here to help you understand the difference between the two and why both are equally important to the other.
To start, let’s go back to the textbook definition of each:
Public Relations: The professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company, other organization, or famous person
Marketing: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising, let’s break it down.
The above definitions are saying public relations protects or maintains the image of a brand or company while marketing works to sell the services of that brand or company.
What the traditional definitions of each don’t tell you is that PR and marketing work to mutually support each other, and without one, the other would not thrive.
Marketing gets a product in front of a consumer using avenues such as advertising campaigns. Marketing creates product awareness, drives the demand for a product, and engages customers in the brand to ensure continued exposure.
Public relations reveals the why behind the brand and the product; it creates brand authenticity and validates a brand through third-party sources. Public relations builds consumer confidence and makes consumers feel safe in their interaction with the brand. A brand needs both methods of interaction with a consumer, continually working and building on each other, for that brand to grow and thrive.
We can easily see an example of marketing and PR working together in light of the brand responses to COVID-19. Almost every brand that I interact with daily, either through an email marketing piece I am receiving or simply scrolling through social media, has a brand story they are telling about their response to COVID-19. By showcasing how they are helping during COVID-19, brands can carve out a unique piece of space among their competitors and help create their brand authority and authenticity. Marketing gets the brand in front of me (via email campaign), and I validate that brand by recognizing the response (or public relations campaign) they have developed to tell their brand story.
Mindful, intentional and straight forward public relations for doers and risk-takers ready to ambitiously elevate their presence, tell a compelling story, and feel confident that their brand attracts their ideal clients.
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