PR vs. Marketing: The ultimate battle

Picture this: You’re at a networking event full of bright, career-driven professionals, and one of them asks you that classic ice breaker: “So, what do you do?”

The conversation usually continues as follows:

Me: “Oh, I work for a PR company. I mainly focus on digital marketing.”

Them: “Wait, you’re a marketer working in public relations? How does that work?”

This is an all too common question, and one that I struggled to answer at first. To best understand the difference between the two, let’s take a look at the “traditional Google definition” for each one, and then walk through what a regular day looks like in either area.

Is PR the same thing as marketing?

Traditionally, public relations is defined as “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.” Simply put, PR focuses on the company or organization as a whole and on maintaining a positive reputation within the community.

On the other hand, marketing is defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”  In other words, marketing focuses on the promotion and selling of a specific product or service, along with the market it is being sold to.

It’s important to realize that although the focus of both PR and marketing are different from each other, it is the conjunction of them that leads to an effective and successful campaign. By integrating things like positive press coverage into your marketing strategy, whether it’s through social media ads or email blasts, you are able to generate more consumer engagement and increase ad performance.

A Day in the Life: PR vs. Marketing

The idea of integrating the two areas sounds great in theory, but can it really be done in an efficient way that will yield positive results? YES.

While we have separate PR and marketing teams at Resolute, we also spend significant time collaborating to create new strategies for our clients.  Independently, each team spends their days in different ways.

As a member of the digital marketing team, I usually spend my day creating Facebook advertising campaigns, designing landing pages, and setting up Google Adwords campaigns. I also work on creating monthly reports for our clients showcasing the results of these campaigns and discussing the takeaways that can be implemented on the next one.

On the other hand, the PR or earned media team spends their day writing pitches, clipping stories, leading media training and coming up with new and innovative story ideas for clients. The PR team also focuses on creating and cultivating relationships within the community, especially with the local media, community leaders and potential community partners.

While our day-to-day tasks look very different, we wouldn’t be able to succeed without collaboration. I look for successful media stories placed by our PR team so I can brainstorm how to leverage those stories on a digital platform. If there was a Tulsa World article that gained a lot of attention, I can use that to figure out what readers are interested in and create a digital advertising campaign from that feedback. 

PR and Marketing – Not PR v. Marketing

Having an earned media team and a marketing team within the same PR company allows us to provide a well-rounded approach to our clients’ obstacles and challenges. There are many agencies out there specifically dedicated to either marketing or public relations, and they have their strategies down pat. However, when a client needs to hire two independent companies, there can be a danger of miscommunication and missed opportunities.

PR vs. marketing is a commonly searched question (trust me, we checked) and as described above, the two are very different. However, we should not be focused on pitting them against each other, but rather learning how to blend the two together. It is Resolute’s ability to meet a client’s PR and marketing needs in one place that feeds into our success. Our teams understand the differences and work together to leverage our knowledge. We’ve found that is the secret sauce that keeps our clients coming back for more.