How Public Relations Differs from Marketing and why it is so Important

In the modern world, connecting products, people and organizations to consumers and stakeholders is vital to the success of an organization. The two main ways organizations do this are marketing and Public Relations. While both serve the overall purpose of promotion, Marketing and public relations are very different and each bring unique strategies to an organization. The first major difference is the goal of each sector. Marketing serves to drive revenue. It focuses on the consumer and is driven by the desire for sales. Public relations focuses on generating positive media coverage and communication with stakeholders. A strong relationship with the public, the media, and stakeholders sells the company brand as a whole. To fully understand the differences between marketing and public relations it is important to take a close look at the function, tactics, and outcome of each.

Marketing focuses its attention on direct, promotional services and advertising. The goal of these tactics is to drive sales. Marketers look to reach both current and target customers. This can involve extensive research on consumer behavior, market trends, and advertisement costs. A benefit of marketing is that the company controls the message that is given to consumers. They can spin any story or campaign to their sole message and brand. The drawback of this is that to the consumer, a message coming directly from a company is less trustworthy. A company wants people to think they are great and recognize all the great things they do, so they will highlight that part in marketing, and not always paint a complete picture of the product.

Public relations isn’t consumer driven, but rather reputation driven. It also involves a lot more communication with stakeholders. Instead of solely focusing on customers, PR maintains strong relationships with anyone with interest in the brand or organization. For PR, the company is the product, and their job is to “sell” it through positive communication with media, community, and stakeholders. Unlike marketing, public relations does not have full creative control over publicity. While marketing often uses advertisements created by the company, public relations focuses on articles written by other media outlets or coverage from influencers. Public relations specialists do not have full control over what is written about the organization, but they can present facts and provide media in a way that will spin a story the way they want it.  There is just not one hundred percent guarantee it will turn out the way the specialist planned.

Another difference is that public relations usually plans long-term strategies while marketing seeks to drive instant, tangible sales. A person on the marketing team may pay for an advertisement in a magazine, consumers will see the ad and sales may go up as a result. Public relations may host a charity event to represent values of the company. While the even may not result in a big spike of sales, it improves the company’s reputation and will help sales over time if people have a good image of the organization.

To manage PR properly an organization must have a person or team of people who understand the public relations industry. PR professionals should have excellent relationship building skills. Building trusting relationships with others in the organization, stakeholders, and media personnel is key. Additionally, the company must ensure its PR team can communicate and execute the company’s values, goals, and mission clearly. Public relations is important because it invests in the company’s trust with consumers. A marketing campaign can be the best on the world, but if consumers have a bad image of the brand, they will never buy the product. Public relations is key when an organization’s reputation comes into question. Companies inevitably undergo scandals or unforeseen poor choices. With a strong public relations team, organizations can properly handle conflict and resolve issues as efficiently as possible while recovering their original reputation. Even if there is no conflict, PR is essential to manage relationship, continue to generate positive press, and communicate with its publics.