Public Relations vs Marketing: Here’s What You Need To Know

Think you have cracked the code on public relations vs marketing? It might be true, but a lot has changed over the last few years. Here's what experts need you to know before executing your next big campaign for business & reputation scalability. Read on...

When it comes to the public relations vs marketing analogy, there’s a dilemma associated with both of them overlapping each other. While it’s true that some functions of public relations pretty much operate within the confines of online digital marketing, both of them have a hairline level difference.

This post aims to highlight the key differences between public relations vs marketing, and emphasis on their importance concerning different verticals in the business industry. Needless to say, both public relations, and marketing are interrelated to each other – so much so that in many cases, one cannot function properly without another.

What Is Public Relations?

We have defined public relations several times in our recent blog posts. Not that the definition isn’t relevant, but the broad spectrum scope of a typical public relations definition always changes according to the niche industry – and the overall PR strategy.

That being said, from a general point of view, public relations is a communication process between two platforms – i.e. a company and its stakeholders.

Speaking of stakeholders, it could be a simple public relations process to maintain communication with internal stakeholders; they’re employees and on-contract staff to keep them all on the same page. Likewise, external stakeholders are people who are either business customers, equity holders, or people from the local communities around the said business.

Either way, when a proper public relations strategy is set in place, it helps to not only strengthen the bond but also builds credibility among both aforementioned bodies.

What is Marketing?

public relations vs marketing

The most basic definition of marketing is that it’s a set of different processes to create brand value, deliver a strong impactful message, and exchange offerings that create business opportunities for a company.

Doesn’t that sound like public relations?

Yes, but there are a few technicalities that outline the difference between public relations vs marketing on multiple levels. Let’s take a look at some of these key highlights.


Expert Advice: If you are struggling to figure out the KPIs for your next big public relations vs marketing campaign, it’s better to consult a Professional Company for robust results.

Public Relations Vs Marketing: These Key Differences Might Baffle You!

public relations vs marketing

1. Goal Wise Difference Between Public Relations Vs Marketing

When we talk about goals, deliverables, and performance-driven metrics, both PR and marketing adopt a T-Fork junction. For instance:

  • If you were to sell a product, create anticipation about the upcoming launch, and manage a positive reputation through different communication strategies with stakeholders, that’d classify as a goal for public relations.
  • On the other hand, a marketing team’s goal is to let the customers do the carryout work towards a sales-driven approach. Ever heard about the ‘word of mouth’ marketing expression? That’s what one aspect of marketing is.

Moving on, revenue also plays a key role in defining how much investment is made into public relations vs marketing. PR normally isn’t that much expensive, but full-scale marketing requires a lot of focus and expenses.

Now, you might argue that professional public relations campaigns and media coverage require a lot of fortune to be spent. It is true, but what about earned media reputation through public relations?

In earned media, you do not have to spend a lot of money, or any money because journalists often cite you as a valuable resource and that gets you all the attention from the media. This process is unlike the ‘Paid media’ public relations campaign, which is an entirely different case.

2. Daily Chore/ Tactic Level Difference Between Public Relations Vs Marketing

Moving on, let’s see what the term: “daily chores” in the life of a PR expert and marketing agency entails.

First, we talk about public relations tactics on daily basis. The experts’ focus in this vertical is on:

  • Securing opportunities concerning public speaking sessions between a company and its stakeholders
  • Manage outgoing messages
  • Create and manage press release
  • Get in touch with journalists through different platforms for media coverage
  • Manage crisis through crisis communication PR, in times of need
  • Project an overall positive business reputation and also do reputation management on the side to handle any negative reviews etc.

While most of these activities can be performed by a bunch of public relations agents, many businesses seek to hire professional PR firms to handle everything on the get-go.

  • Moving on, here’s what the “daily tactics” list has in store for a marketing department:
  • Run advertisement campaigns on different online platforms
  • Look to seize online ad placement opportunities on different websites
  • Create KPIs to reflect the digital marketing team’s effort, monthly objectives, metrics, number of customers converted – so on and so forth
  • Do extensive industry-level research to increase brand outreach and improve sales

That’s not all though. Here’s what the game looks like at the metrics level.

3. Metrics Level Difference Between Public Relations Vs Marketing

Okay, so the metrics portray an entirely different, or sometimes slightly similar picture about what public relations and marketing are looking to derive from a strategy.

Public Relations Metrics

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Different awards that have been won during industry events

  • Engagement, and the number of positive press work done or generated over the last few years. This metric depends on the timeline, but the idea is to keep tabs on trade publications, broadcasts, and different media outlets.
  • What was the overall level of sentiment that you received through PR campaign coverage?
  • Engagement-related metrics related to social media campaigns, online collabs with influencers, bloggers, etc.

Marketing Metrics

Now that we talk about marketing metrics, it goes like this…

  • Did the social media buzz, viral campaign, or any other sales campaign result in increasing the sales figure?
  • What was the overall budget spent on ads and the cumulative ROI?
  • Did the sales goals exceed expectations?
  • Was the company able to meet the breakeven point for a given marketing campaign?

4. Audiences Level Difference Between Public Relations Vs Marketing

Generally speaking, there is a difference between the audiences that PR and marketing teams develop communications around.

  • The audience that Public Relations teams try to reach is virtually limitless. These teams may focus on personalized- or campaign-based outreach to consumers, stakeholders, the media, and even employees

Depending on the current needs of the company, a PR professional could be crafting individualized communications for investors at the same time they are crafting a press release blast.

  • The audience that marketing teams try to reach is usually broader in the sense that this group is either addressing either customers or prospects — assuming that the PR team is handling all internal communications

However, the Marketing team may engage in activities like ABM, digital advertising, or email marketing that revolve around segmenting and targeting specific groups of either prospective customers or existing ones.

When Should a Company Use Public Relations Strategies or Marketing for That Matter?

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Despite some very clear differences, public relations and marketing cannot operate in silos. To be successful in today’s fragmented world of media, the two departments must collaborate with one another.

Let’s look at an example of how the PR and marketing teams’ efforts have influence one another.

  • If the product or service you are advertising has limited brand awareness, then you will have a more challenging time building a successful brand reputation, or relationship, with consumers. This will most likely result in a decline in sales.

Both the PR and marketing departments could work together to increase brand awareness by securing press for the product or service and then creating social media advertisements around that press.

Increasingly social media marketing and influencer marketing are two activities that are being managed by both PR and marketing departments. Social media and influencers can be used to convey brand-building messaging as well as carry out targeted advertising campaigns.

Summing It All Up...

From a long-term perspective, public relations vs marketing requires meticulous planning and careful execution.

On top of everything, you need an expert to monitor results for gauging success. The previous notion that you could rely on a “dash of magic” and run any type of PR vs marketing campaign with minimal effort, doesn’t work anymore.

Our best advice is to consult a digital marketing agency. Yes, many people dread the idea of such collabs due to past experiences, but you can book a free demo with us to see how things roll out for you. Needless to say, when it comes to public relations or marketing, we don’t just drop the needle, we move it!

Good luck.

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