In the business world, it is all too common for companies—of all sizes—to lump public relations (PR) and marketing together as one entity. The mix-up is understandable since the lines between PR and
marketing have blurred over time, but they have different goals that make them both equally and separately valuable to businesses of all industries.

If you’re not sure how to differentiate PR and marketing, here’s a breakdown:

Traditional Definitions
Public Relations: A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. (Public Relations Society of America, 2011-2012)

Marketing: The activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large. (American Marketing Association, 2013)

The main difference? Marketing is centered around promoting and selling a company’s offerings, whereas PR is focused on communicating to maintain a positive reputation for a company as a whole.

  • Day-to- Day
    On an average workday, you could find a PR professional:
  • Writing press releases about a new product/service launch or a new company initiative
  • Pitching positive stories on impending company announcements to the press
  • Securing speaking opportunities for company executives at large-scale industry events
  • Establishing relationships with the media and influencers in the industry
  • Posting daily content on a company’s social media accounts
  • Developing talking points for interviews and speaking to the press about company news

On that same day, a marketing professional could be:

  • Producing an advertising campaign for a new product
  • Purchasing advertising slots for that campaign on relevant media platforms (i.e., radio, TV, or online)
  • Creating supporting materials for the campaign, like brochures, website landing pages, and FAQs
  • Conducting industry and client research to help drive the direction of marketing campaigns
  • Managing customer service-related issues on the company’s social media accounts
  • Attending trade shows to promote products and/or services

Metrics of Success
For a PR person, success would look like:

  • Getting positive press in relevant top-tier/trade publications and broadcast outlets about the company and its offerings
  • Winning awards at high-profile industry events
  • Scoring positive buzz from social media followers, journalists, industry influencers, and the general public

For a marketer, success would be:

  • Meeting sales goals
  • Grossing high return on investment (ROI)

Scoring positive buzz from customers, social media followers,
industry influencers, and the general public

Despite their differences, and overlap will inevitably occur somewhere between PR and marketing because you can’t market without doing some PR work, and vice versa. The end goals–selling
products/services and making people like a company—are too intertwined to not occasionally crossover: If your company’s products are bad, your company won’t be viewed favorably by the public, and if people aren’t connecting with your brand as a whole, they’re not going to buy from you.

No matter which marketing or PR tactics you use, the bottom line is to always make sure your company’s reputation and its offerings are equally awesome.

Want to learn how PR can help grow your business? Click here to contact Gilbert Group PR for a consultation.

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