What is the Difference Between Marketing and Public Relations?


There is often some confusion about the roles of marketing and public relations (PR) within an organization. Typically, these management functions are grouped together, but each serves its own purpose. Marketing and PR have different goals and measurements of success. Together, they make a great team and often depend on one another for individual successes, but each field approaches their work from unique perspectives. A few key differences are highlighted below.

Marketing focuses on a company’s bottom line and PR focuses on the brand or reputation. In marketing, the goals are to create value for the customer and build relationships. The idea is to add value in line with customers’ expectations based on their need and the price they are willing to pay. By achieving these goals, an organization will gain and retain valuable and loyal customers.

Public relations carefully crafts and communicates a message with the end goal of achieving a favorable image of a company or actions by supporters within specific communities. Public relations also encourages audiences to look at issues differently and help to ensure a consistent, positive experience.

Product vs Relationship
Marketing focuses on the offerings of a company, whether a product or service. Ultimately, the marketing team deals with the product, price, promotion and placement of the company’s offering.

Public relations is not product focused, but relationship focused. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines public relations as the strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

Action vs Brand
Marketing is challenged to create action – the purchase of the product or service that is offered. Therefore, marketing success is based on return on investment (ROI).

Public relations is challenged to create credibility about the brand. It’s harder to specifically measure opinions and perspectives, so reviews and comments about a brand are key to determining success of efforts.

While there are several differences between marketing and public relations each serve a specific purpose in your organization’s overall communications strategy; marketing sells a product or service and public relations manages a reputation. Finding the right blend is how we deliver effective communications.


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