PR vs. Marketing: Who’s the Heavyweight?

When figuring out how to promote your company, marketing and public relations (PR) are two tactics often thrown around the conference room. You might ask, are they interchangeable? Do we really need both? With how often they are discussed together, it’s easy to blur their specific functions and lump them into one checkbox.

Let’s start with their individual purposes. Marketing is broadly defined as the promotion of products and services, which is largely driven by research. In essence, marketing makes a specific ask of the consumer, whether that’s to purchase a product or simply form a particular opinion of your brand and services.

PR is defined as building and maintaining relationships between organizations and various public entities. This encompasses relations with the media, social influencers, customers and more through strategic communications and listening. PR can be proactive and reactive, but requires an established plan in both instances.

While both can be wrapped into tidy definitions, the truth is marketing and PR intertwine and work best when used collaboratively rather than living in silos. For instance:

  • PR provides the listening that comprises much of a campaign’s market research.
  • Marketing is a great way to boost a feature story or news release.
  • Some tools straddle both sides—like Facebook, which can be used as both a marketing platform and means to engage with and listen to customers.

If you try to pick just one or the other, you’ll likely find yourself in a “chicken or the egg” scenario. Marketing and PR deserve their own checkboxes and individual strategies, but for the best result let them enter the ring as a team instead of facing off against each other.

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