The Difference Between Marketing and PR? It’s All in the Inflections

integrated-communications-1-728It wasn't so long ago that the PR and marketing functions were considered enemies within organizations, particularly where budgets, reporting structures and the assigning of credit/blame were concerned.

Perhaps as a result of the concurrent changes in personal technology habits (aka the bent-elbow/head-down posture of the human race as it loses itself in "social" media) and the decline of traditional news organizations, it's become harder to perceive where marketing ends and PR begins. Current job titles bear witness to the haziness.

To bring some clarity to the issue, PR News asked its community how it would define the difference between marketing and PR. Most of the responses fell along the lines of "marketing is all about the product and PR is all about the relationships." We suspect that many marketers and PR pros (and those officially straddling the two) would object to this kind of blanket statement, but the variations on the same theme is telling.

But what's most illuminating is the creativity expressed in the attempts to spell out the difference in short social media posts:

  • PR tends to leverage media to build brand awareness, while marketing covers a wide range of customer-targeted messaging and calls to action.
  • Marketing = trading and sales oriented. PR = public oriented.
  • Marketing is about selling/needing the product, ‪PR is about creating the population around the product.
  • PR is a two-way engagement with publics. ‪Marketing is a content-oriented message that attempts to sway ‪consumers.
  • In the life of an organization, marketing is for the sells, PR is for everything else.
  • Marketing is all about the product. PR is all about the relationships.
  • Marketing is the development of a product's branding strategy, while PR is the media relationships executing the marketing strategies.
  • Marketing is how you want the world to see your product. PR is how the world actually sees your product.
  • Marketing is the script, PR is the film.
  • Marketing is the ingredients, PR is the cake displayed in the window.
  • Marketing—you pay for it. PR—you pray for it.
  • Marketing focuses on getting someone to open their wallet. PR focuses on getting into their hearts and minds.
  • Marketing in the monologue, PR is the conversation.
  • Marketing creates the vision and the events, while PR builds relationships with others so they can tell the story from their point of view.
  • Marketing is a one-way communication, PR is a two-way communication.
  • Marketing and PR are communication efforts designed to boost business and promote a brand, but their chief aims are not the same. Marketing focuses on the market and building sales and PR focuses on relationship and trust, and they both have different success metrics.
  • Paid and unpaid coverage is one significant difference. Both should aim at crafting a brand story.
  • It's not about the difference between ‪PR & ‪marketing. Both must support/rely on each other to maximize brand awareness & lead generation.

 Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI

  • Patti Reinvented

    Very informative piece. My fav is the food-oriended one: “marketing is the ingredients, PR is the cake displayed in the window.” It’s easy to understand, and now I’m hungry for cake. I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.

  • CaitlynC

    I always say: marketing is talking about yourself, PR is getting others to talk about you.

  • Ken Dowell

    The vagueness of many of these descriptions virtually assures that this question will remain open for debate for some time. What, for example, does “creating the population around a product” actually mean?

  • Wiseman28

    I like them all, and the posted comments. What’s great about both–and how one reinforces the other–is done well they are exciting!

  • Christina

    Another good one: Marketing is the General in Command, PR is the army

  • Lyndon

    I am ashamed of my profession. If you asked pilots and got this many definitions of flying would you get on an airplane again? I wouldn’t.

    Imagine you’re now asking somebody to pay you to help them communicate to their publics. Would you buy? Now do you see the problem?