Marketing and PR – What’s The Difference

Marketing and PR - What's The Difference

Is there a difference between Marketing and PR? Many small firms have no ongoing PR effort but frequently spend large sums on marketing & advertising, which is often times less effective than they had hoped. Let’s take a look at these two subjects and see if we can shed some light on the differences between the two.

The Purpose of Public Relations

The purpose of Public Relations is to position or fix in the mind of the public an idea about your company or business. It’s to get them to think of you in a certain way or even to change the way they think. All this falls under the category of PR.

Common Tools of PR are:

  • Press Releases & Press Kits
  • Video & News Releases
  • Public Speaking at Events
  • Charity Work
  • Fund Raising for Social Betterment Activities
  • Community Involvement Events
  • Publicity Events
  • Third Party Endorsements
  • Social Media

The Purpose of Marketing

The purpose of Marketing is to create a large demand for your products and services with a selected target audience, by various techniques, such as differentiation, positioning, etc. Ultimately great Marketing should lead to increased sales.

Common Marketing Tools are:

  • paid advertising in various media & publications
  • search engine marketing
  • TV infomercials
  • brochures & literature
  • trade shows
  • positioning
  • email marketing
  • newsletters
  • outbound telemarketing
  • websites
  • direct mail
  • promotional products
  • (plus many others)

As you can see from the above definitions, each activity is different from the other, though somewhat related. Marketing is a more direct approach to sales while PR is more of an indirect approach.

Marketing says directly, “our products are great because…”

PR says (indirectly), “we’re a good company because… (others think so, we did_____, etc)”.

For the small to mid sized business, Marketing is the quicker path to sales and therefore gets the lion share of the focus of businesses, while PR is the longer term, flanking strategy for really building up your company’s brand equity, awareness and clout over time.

Both are vital activities with their own merits that deserve to be part of your overall business strategy.


New PR campaigns ideally should be launched before any new Marketing campaigns roll out. It spreads the good works & good news of your company and creates a positive buzz around your brand. When the Marketing hits, you’ve got your audience in an amiable frame of mind.

It has been said that PR starts the fire & Marketing fans the flames. Another great quote is that Advertising is the penalty you pay for lack of effective PR.

Today there are many tools available to the small business owner to get started with PR. The most simplest form would be to start considering periodic press releases through a Newswire service.

If you need help with your PR or Marketing effort, please give us a call so we can speak with you about all the different options that are available to help build your company’s brand and marketing position.