How does Public Relations differ from marketing

In our previous post, we have talked about the main differences between Public Relations and Advertising. Now it’s time to explore if PR and marketing are the same things… And why they’re not if you know what I mean.

Although I have given a spoiler already, I don’t think it came out as a surprise for you. It doesn’t take a lot of wisdom to see that marketing is a very important tool in any company that wants to achieve its goals, and if I can count that you have read my previous post about PR, you too know that PR is all about strategic planning towards a goal.

So, if both Marketing and PR are related as major tools to reach out to positive outcomes towards a product on publicity and consumer relations, how do they differ from each other? The answer to that question is a matter of perspectives. Before we go on, though, I’d like to point out that this article doesn’t intend to dissect the whole meaning and conceptualization of either PR or Marketing, but only show the nuances that make them unique in contrast. If, however, you are interested in reading a deeper article that will be much more specific, let me know! I would love to bring you the content that you want to read 🙂

What is Marketing?

You already know what PR is, and how is it supposed to manage and create publicity for a brand, among other functions. Let’s dive right into the Marketing universe.

Also in the Communication field, Marketing is a very important piece of how you present yourself, or your brand, to the world. Let’s put it in a simple way: when you want to work at a certain company, be honest and tell me which of the following behaviors would you take:

  1. You do massive research on what does the company do, what are the core values, who are the people leading the position you seek, how to approach them and figure out how to get their attention in an assertive way; or
  2. You just send your resume on their webpage and cross your fingers hoping for the best (eventually, lighting up a candle to ask for some divine help).

If you have chosen behavior number 1, congratulations! Understanding what marketing is will be a lot easier for you. If you chose behavior number 2… Well, it’s your decision, but keep with us and you will understand why you might not get all the positive answers you have been waiting for.

Marketing is understanding the needs of your customers to serve and satisfy them. Marketing is all about a deep comprehension of the psychological frames of your customer and their needs, so you can meet them. You can see how technical Marketing can get when you combine it with innovation – it’s very unlikely that a product with high cognition of need satisfaction and technological innovation on it wouldn’t sell.

Photo by Lukas on

While the Advertise Industry will be worried about talking good things about a certain brand and spreading a positive message regarding a product to an audience, Marketing is focused on getting to know who is this audience, what do they want and what do they care about, so the brand can grant them a closer experience to their expectations without telling to whom they are working for. Marketing is listening to customers to learn about them as much as possible. Meanwhile, PR focus on giving brand publicity towards trust, in a cohesive communication that will not praise the brand promotionally.

When I was doing my research to write this article, I figured out that there is a lot of articles on the internet describing Marketing, but most of them are very abstract and, I’m not going to lie, a little confusing. I managed to find a source that was objective and clear enough to endorse what is Marketing without any confusion: I recommend you to read a very complete article written by Michael Brenner if you want to understand Marketing on a deeper level.

How does PR and Marketing work together?

This answer can be very intuitive. If for the purposes of this article, we have defined Marketing as the comprehension of customer’s psychological trends, needs, expectations, and personalities, we can relate this data to the strategy we will adopt on the publicity and trust manners we will have towards them. When a Marketing department acknowledges its customer’s universe, they will decode it into goods and services to provide them in order to fulfill their needs. PR will take this into consideration and manage the reputation of the brand in a positive way, in order to gain the market’s trust and build a positive perspective over the brand’s provisions. Now that you know all that, can you tell me how can PR support Marketing activities?

In case you are wondering how do people know if Marketing and PR have achieved the main goal, you are absolutely right in doing so. There’s no way to determine if a function is on its right path without measuring its steps, right? Therefore, both industries have a way of measuring their success. Remember when I said Marketing is much more on the technical side? That’s because its success measurement is on the sales KPI (key performance indicators), which means the more sales or revenue a product generates, the better is the Marketing strategy working. With PR, the KPI is on how the public opinion regarding the brand and/or product is turning out – if the public supports them, then it’s a good sign of a positive reputation. But don’t be naive: a brand should never ever entirely focus neither its Marketing nor its PR on external matters.

Marketing and Public Relations 101
Marketing is…Public Relations are…
Focused on customers psychological traits and needsFocused on creating a positive public opinion
Evaluated by sales and revenue increase through promotional actionsEvaluated by positive brand perception thought media exposure
Target audience is sharper: aims on the current and potential customersBroader Target: builds relationships towards anyone interested in the brand (customers, media, etc)

Why is PR important in Marketing?

A brand will never build itself alone. It needs a team to keep its structure. I’m not only talking about the creation of the brand, even though this is also very important, but I’m referring to the maintenance of it. It doesn’t matter if you work in the core business of a brand or if you work in a side position, not less important: marketing is a job for each and every employee to take seriously. Why is that? Because the employees are an extension of the brand.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

PR embraces internal and external communications. Maybe you never heard of a term called Endomarketing, but this is your next lesson. If you have a leading position in a company, you should be already familiar with the importance of knowing your assets. I’m not talking about a company’s resources on a material level, although they are very important to take into consideration too. I’m talking about your human assets. How do your employees develop the company’s reputation, either on or off working hours? Do they feel recognized, appreciated, or even a part of the company’s history? Do you offer them a benefit other than money and medical assistance? Is their salary enough? Are they happy working for/with you?

One of the biggest challenges a company has nowadays is reducing turnover. They spent a lot of money on finding a talented individual to hire, they train this person to their frames and this is already a high investment. Once this person is ready, if they don’t feel like being a part of the team, chances are that your competitor will offer them better work conditions and they will take it. Endomarketing’s function is to avoid those situations by building a trustworthy working environment, where your employees will feel grateful and happy to be a part of that community.

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Richard Branson
How does PR relate to Endomarketing?

I am sure you have heard of many magazines that list the best companies to work at in the current year. If you haven’t, take a look at 2020’s edition provided by Business Insider. Along with the list of companies with the happiest employees, they share a piece of the reason they feel this way.

Needless to say how much of a huge PR action this is to all of the companies. Not only they attract more talents interested in working with them, which will considerably raise the success chances of the profits in each company, but it will also cause a very positive impact on public opinion, creating a trustworthy path in both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer) relations. On the opposite side, bad PR is also happening. MoneyWise launched a list of worst companies to work for in 2020. How would you feel about making business with a company known for neglecting its employees?

There is a lot more to explore in the relations between Marketing and PR. I will definitely cover more aspects of Marketing and PR in the future, but my goal with this article was to enlighten the relationship between them and how they can improve a brand’s credibility and revenue, once they are complementary to each other.

Published by flaviastamato

Publicist and writer, a citizen of the world trying to free herself from writing cliches (but it's so tempting....)

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