The Difference Between Marketing and PR: Which is Better?

maketing vs pr

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Marketing vs PR

Railroad tracks have two rails. For a train to move, it needs both of them. The rails are separate and distinct, but they work together. If one fails, it becomes difficult for the train to move forward with any speed or consistency.


Public relations and marketing are like the two rails of a railroad track. To operate at its fullest potential, a brand needs both. They work together to move a brand forward with speed and consistency, but they are not the same thing. They reach similar stakeholders, but they reach them in different ways.


So what is the difference between the two? In essence, marketing is focused on promoting a brand’s products with the goal of selling while PR is focused on promoting a brand’s persona with the goal of maintaining a good reputation. To oversimplify, marketing is about what you do and PR is about who you are.

maketing vs pr

What is the difference between marketing and public relations?

Marketing and public relations are two closely related, yet distinct fields. Both are focused on promoting and building a positive image for a company or organization, but they do so in different ways.

Marketing is the process of creating, delivering, and promoting a product or service to a target audience. It involves identifying the needs and wants of consumers, and then creating a strategy to meet those needs and wants. Marketing typically involves a wide range of tactics, such as advertising, promotions, and branding. The goal of marketing is to generate sales and increase revenue for the company.

Common marketing activities include conducting market research, managing marketing campaigns, and developing marketing materials like websites, promotional videos, and advertisement. Marketers buy ad space, track ad engagement, and analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Marketing initiatives are primarily focused on how to promote products and attract new customers.

Public relations, on the other hand, is the practice of managing and shaping the reputation of an organization. It involves building and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, such as customers, employees, investors, and the media. Public relations professionals use various tactics to communicate with stakeholders, including press releases, media relations, and crisis management. The goal of public relations is to build trust and credibility with stakeholders, and to promote a positive image for the company.

Common public relations activities include tracking trends in the news, identifying relevant media outlets, building relationships with media connections, writing press releases, pitching story ideas, and coordinating opportunities for company representatives to connect with the press. PR initiatives are focused on maintaining a positive public perception and bolstering the overall brand reputation.

In summary, marketing is focused on promoting and selling products or services, while public relations is focused on managing and shaping the reputation of an organization. Both are important for the success of a company, but they have different goals and tactics.

maketing vs pr


PR and Marketing: Do they overlap?

There is some overlap between public relations (PR) and marketing. Both fields involve promoting and building a positive image for a company or organization, and both use similar tactics such as advertising, branding, and media relations. However, the main goal and focus of PR and marketing are different.

The main goal of PR is to build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders and to shape and manage the reputation of the organization. The focus is on building trust and credibility with stakeholders and promoting a positive image for the company.

On the other hand, the main goal of marketing is to generate sales and increase revenue for the company. The focus is on identifying the needs and wants of consumers and creating strategies to meet those needs and wants.

While PR and marketing do overlap, they are separate fields with different goals and focuses. Many companies and organizations have both a PR department and a marketing department to handle these different functions.


Difference Between Marketing and PR Strategies

While the two have the same target audience, marketing and PR strategies each focus on a different way of connecting. Marketing efforts seek to make a direct connection between a brand’s advertising campaigns and target market. A PR campaign seeks a connection that is mediated by a third party to lend credibility.


For example, if your brand sells electric trains, you may launch a marketing campaign that involves running ads in Model Railroader. The ads would have the goal of driving new sales by announcing a new product, promoting the benefits of using your product, or encourage readers to visit your website.


A PR campaign focusing on the same readers would seek to have the editor of the magazine publish an article about your company. Through a press release, you would share information on the innovative features of a new product or the expertise that one of the company’s executives could share with the magazine’s readers. In effect, positive press serves as an endorsement by the editors. It is earned media, rather than paid media. It accomplishes the goal of boosting your brand’s reputation.



Should strategic communication utilize both PR and marketing?


To achieve optimal growth, brands should include both PR and marketing in their strategic communication plan. As the electric train company seeks to connect with the readers of Model Railroader, it does not need to limit its efforts to either PR or marketing.


Many brands will seek to align their PR and marketing efforts by coordinating campaigns to focus on the same communication channels. If you know that your brand will be featured in a publication, you could plan to run ads for your products in the same publication. The editorial coverage lends authority to the ads while the ads supplement the information that is provided in the coverage.


Metrics of success: Marketing vs PR

The metrics of success for marketing and public relations are different, as they are based on different goals and focuses.

The metrics of success for marketing include:

  1. Sales: The number of products or services sold is the most important metric for measuring the success of a marketing campaign.
  2. Return on Investment (ROI): The ROI is the ratio of the profit generated by a marketing campaign compared to the cost of the campaign. A high ROI indicates that the campaign was successful.
  3. Lead generation: The number of leads generated by a marketing campaign is an important metric, as leads are potential customers.
  4. Brand awareness: The level of awareness of a brand among the target audience is an important metric, as it indicates the success of branding and advertising efforts.
  5. Customer engagement: The level of engagement with customers, such as likes, shares, comments and views on social media, is a metric for measuring the success of a marketing campaign.

maketing vs pr


The metrics of success for public relations include:

  1. Media coverage: The amount and quality of media coverage that an organization receives is a key metric for measuring the success of a PR campaign.
  2. Stakeholder engagement: The level of engagement with stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, and the media, is an important metric for measuring the success of a PR campaign.
  3. Social media engagement: The number of shares, likes, and comments on social media is a metric for measuring the success of a PR campaign.
  4. Reputation management: The reputation of an organization is an important metric, as it measures how stakeholders perceive the organization.
  5. Crisis management: The ability to effectively manage and mitigate a crisis is a key metric of success for public relations.

maketing vs pr

It’s important to note that these are not the only metrics, but are commonly used to measure the success of both marketing and public relations. Additionally, it’s important to track and measure the performance of the campaigns to adjust and improve them to achieve better results.


Which Is Better: PR or Marketing?

PR and marketing are both necessary for a brand’s success. It is difficult to say which is better, as it depends on the goals of each campaign. PR can be very effective at driving earned media coverage that builds brand awareness, while marketing can be used to drive specific sales or market share growth. A successful strategy will likely include a combination of PR and marketing tactics.


Overall, it is important to know that marketing and public relations are two tools that can be used to drive an organization’s growth. They use different approaches to promoting brand awareness and different metrics for measuring success. However, they both pursue the same goals of business growth and brand-building. Any brand that wants to excel should take advantage of the positive impact that both marketing and public relations can bring.


Want to learn more about PR and how it can help your organization? Check out our blog for more tips and advice on how to create an effective PR strategy.


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Nik Korba

Nik has been a screenwriter, ghostwriter, novel writer, song writer, and blog writer with a degree from the University of Miami. He has prepared communications for thousands online and on social platforms, as well as being involved in the production of more than 1,000 videos.
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