There was a time when PR was associated with free publicity and marketing with paid advertising. That distinction has blurred since the popularity of the internet, especially social media. On the other hand, it depends upon whom you ask.

For companies selling products or services, marketing, and public relations have the same goal of producing positive returns that result in increased business and profits. That has never changed but social media has drawn the lines closer together in what’s called relationship management. It’s also called relationship marketing.

How so? Paying for an ad on Google would normally be labeled marketing while paying for materials to nurture a potential customer would generally be considered PR. It was kind of a one-two punch. PR set up the potential customer and generated goodwill and interest wile marketing followed up with a deal that the customer couldn’t refuse and acted on.

Marketing vs PR Strategies

PR and marketing, although they have similar strategies, are two completely different promotional efforts for companies. Plenty of people tend to mistake the two industries as the same thing with very different names and the same goals and results. Unfortunately, this way of thinking is harmful to attaining the goals of both of these different efforts. 

Although both PR and marketing have plenty of similarities, there are some crucial ways in which these two efforts differ from each other. In fact, when marketers and PR professionals think that either effort is an extension of the other one, it can lead to a loss in the company’s brand awareness or its reputation with the target audience. 

Although both PR and marketing have plenty of similar strategies and processes, they have plenty of unique things that differentiate them from each other, especially when it comes to the end goals of each effort. The main thing that it comes down to is which part of the sales funnel consumers are directly engaging with, as well as the areas that each effort supports inside the company itself. 


When it comes to marketing, the main goal is to generate leads. With the help of a great marketing campaign, companies can receive plenty of sales opportunities and drive conversions. The reason behind this is because if a company has a clear message that gets the attention of consumers, more consumers will be inclined to buy that product. Most of the time, marketing goals tend to be based on generating high-quality leads and giving the sales teams what they need to close deals.

Public Relations

On the other hand, PR is a long-term process which has the goal of increasing the credibility of a company, the visibility of its executives, and of building trust between the company and its target audience. While public relations can help amplify a company’s marketing efforts, it’s only a small element of the true potential of PR. Additionally, while a single piece of media coverage can lead to more brand awareness, it’s not going to lead to more sales. On the other hand, a PR campaign can be a lot more powerful as it lasts a longer period of time because they create brand equity.

That is something that affects the entire sales funnel, as well as other departments of the business. It ranges from the visibility of the executives to recruitment of new employees, funding from investors, and even customer retention. That’s because the more people that know about the company and believe that the brand’s messaging has more depth and value,  the more the company will receive support.

Although strong marketing campaigns are essential in positioning a company’s products or services and making it stand out from a crowded marketplace, businesses should have strong overall communication strategies. That means companies shouldn’t expect a single marketing or a single PR campaign to have the same results compared to when both types of campaigns work together.

Finally, for companies that are able to invest time and money into both great marketers and great PR professionals, the net results are more notability, more sales, more respect, and more brand awareness.

What Is Relationship Management?

Relationship management aims to draw a consumer deeper into the company’s service and/or product circle with comments, feedback and offers to become more engaged. Once a person likes a product or service on social media, it opens a doorway for the company to connect even more closely by sharing and informing the customer about recent advances, changes, etc. for what they liked. Relationship management then is a hybrid of both marketing and PR.

Different Schools of Thought

Some observers would tell you that social marketing aims for a larger market, while PR concentrates on the existing one. Others would argue that PR today throws out a bigger net to not only appeal to current customers, but also potential ones. That outreach could be enormous. Consider how some GoFundMe stories and sites have become overnight social media sensations and successes. There’s validity in the latter argument. In order to survive and grow, PR has to extend its boundaries. That’s the value and difference of blogs, influencers and other strategies that weren’t popular a decade ago.

As with the evolution of so many other things, it’s time for marketing and PR to unite.

Combine Both For Success

Should marketing and PR be separate? To achieve maximum success today, both should be located within the same department so they can coordinate and collaborate. They should be supervised by the same person.

By working more closely together, marketers and PR folks not only learn to collaborate but also discover more about each other’s arenas which enables them to become even more effective and successful. Providing meaningful content as well as exceptional information to customers and potential ones will only serve to generate more leads but also a much-appreciated increase in sales

If your organization has separate marketing and PR departments, now is the time to bring the two together. Before doing so, consider holding a retreat or half-day interdepartmental staff meeting at which you lay out the challenge of how to best manage relationship management. Not using the other name keeps it neutral.

Discuss the values of relationship management and challenge any ideas that management of it should rest in one department. You may be surprised by the results.

A word of caution: you may detect some resistance because one or both department managers may feel that a merger will eliminate a position. Be prepared with an appropriate and meaningful response.

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