What is the difference between marketing and PR?

Marketing and PR can often get conflated together as a single set of activities that a company should be investing in. While they are both part of a well-rounded communications strategy, marketing and PR have different aims, objectives and purposes.

To help clarify these two differing – albeit complementary – disciplines, here’s a helpful guide.

Let’s kick off with marketing. In essence, marketing is about promoting and selling products, through direct methods. It’s essentially the act of telling your customers why you’re good, and how you can help them.

Marketing activities include advertising, through media such as print, TV radio, online and social media. You pay for your advert, it is shown to potential customers, and you hope for a return. It can be very successful, although it often has greater results when combined with other areas of a communication strategy.

Other marketing techniques include those which pass helpful information to potential and existing customers such as sales brochures and catalogues. One of the most important areas of marketing for companies now is of course their website, which in today’s digital world is often the first contact someone will have with a brand.

Looking at PR, which stands for public relations, this is about reputation building and securing positive sentiment towards a company and its products or services. It’s ensuring that someone hears that you’re good, making it more subtle than marketing.

Press coverage is the immediate activity that people think of when discussing PR, which is undeniably an important part of securing a positive image. This is particularly true when the result is the positioning of a company as an expert, and a problem solver.

PR is however much wider-reaching. Public speaking slots, seminars, and social media are all ways to get your message heard in a more discreet and thought-leadership positioning manner.

It is natural that with today’s focus on digital technology, the two areas go hand in hand a lot more. For example, an advert might be unveiled (think John Lewis at Christmas). People take to social media to discuss how much they like the advert, how they feel so positive towards the company, how happy it has made them. What starts as a direct way to get their attention is then moved across to public relations, an outpouring of positive sentiment for the company, which makes people love the company that little bit more.  

At Parrot PR and Marketing, we use a blend of both disciplines to deliver fantastic results for our clients. Our experienced team are able to identify which areas of a communications strategy will best meet the needs of our clients and what they are looking to achieve