Marketing vs. Public Relations: What’s the Difference?

One of the questions we hear most often is: Are marketing and public relations the same thing? We’re here to tell you, they are vastly different.  Here’s why.

In a nutshell:The function of public relations is to build favorable relationships with the public as a whole. Marketing functions to promote products and brands to a targeted base, utilizing social media, blogs, e-mail campaigns, and company literature such as brochures and catalogs.

Marketing generally, supports the sales team and targets brand recognition efforts toward a targeted audience; Public Relations supports the overall brand to the community at-large.

Target Audiences

Marketing’s target audience is the customer. Marketers work to create a comprehensive strategy to meet customers’ needs. They do this by intimately knowing the segment of the market that the brand resides in, and influencing the target audience authentically and organically.

In Public Relations, the audience consists of a range of publics (customers, employees, suppliers, investors, media, and general population.), who collectively support the organization’s objectives.  A good public relations strategy will be completely invisible to the audience.

Strategy and Operations

Marketing professionals are target audience experts.  To create a lasting impact that produces sales numbers, successful marketing strategies are devised by people who understand the specific industry idiosyncrasies and lingo.  Without this background, a marketing strategy will have no authority or pull within the community.  Customers want to be met on their own terms, and spoken to in a way that feels tailored to their needs.

The tools of a marketing strategy:

  • Blogs- Company blogs show industry relevancy. When a company is constantly “writing” articles on pertinent topics and new products, it shows industry authority.
  • Social Media
  • Email Campaigns
  • Brochures and handouts

For example: “Brand X” is a technologically advanced color-mixing LED manufacturer. They’re launching a new product, and would like to get the word out.  Their marketing strategy will only be successful if it is crafted by a person with an understanding of the LED technology, and embedded within the community.

The campaign would most likely include news articles, email campaigns (one to customers, and one to the reps), social media posts, and creating spec sheets, website product pages, brochures and handouts.

Seeing your Return on Investment (ROI)

Marketing is generally seen as a business investment.  Depending on the specifics, if a marketing campaign is successful, a company will see a rise in website visits, blog/article views, email opens/click throughs, and ultimately, a rise in sales.

Public relations can be a little trickier to quantify.   There are metrics that can be used to gauge ROI such as website traffic after an article is published, but it is generally more difficult to measure ROI for public relations because it’s harder to measure a change in audience perception, as opposed to direct sales.

So where do I choose to spend my money? Marketing or PR?

First, you need to decide what your goals are. From there you can figure out whether you’re looking to implement a sales and marketing strategy, or a plan for increasing overall brand awareness.

Performance Marketing Can Help

Performance Marketing is a full-service marketing agency with copy writers, graphic designers, web developers, and more.  We pride ourselves on our innovative marketing strategies and our dedication to quality content.

Performance is more than just a marketing agency.  Although we don’t have a separate public relations division, our team creates press releases that have been picked up by various news sources such as Electrical News and Edison Report. Performance Marketing can also help with event planning by creating invitations and writing follow-up event articles.