Here’s an interesting question posed to us recently: “Are marketing and PR the same thing?”

The answer to this question is: no. At their cores, public relations and marketing have different goals, but share similar methods and tactics.

The Goal of PR

The goal of public relations is to create awareness and trust. The job of a PR professional is to communicate with audiences, directly or through intermediaries such as the media, to generate awareness of our company. Our desired outcome is a trusted relationship with our audience.

The Goal of Marketing

The goal of marketing is to create demand for our products and services. The job of a marketer is to stimulate demand in an audience by triggering a response, a need, then directing that need to our products and services. Our desired outcome is an interested buyer.

Why Marketing and PR Aren’t The Same Thing

The reason people conflate marketing and PR is because they use very similar methods and some of the same tools.

A PR professional uses the media to create awareness. PR professionals use social media to communicate with audiences, publications to provide information to audiences, and even advertising to drive awareness to content. PR professionals use trusted third parties like publications to create social proof and trust in our company and its products and services.

A marketer uses the media to generate demand. Marketers use social media to trigger need, to pose questions, to highlight implicit problems audiences have that our company will solve. Marketers use advertising to reach audiences we’re not able to reach organically, but the purpose is not awareness as much as it is demand generation.

Why Marketing and PR Need Each Other

Awareness without demand is like having a coffee shop that customers never visit.

Demand without awareness and trust is like having a coffee shop that customers can’t find.

Combined, marketing and PR encourage people to tell each other about the coffee shop, trust that the coffee is good, come to it, and buy something from it.


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