So you came here because you want to know whether public relations (PR) or marketing is right for your business, right? Bad news. It was a trick question. Good news. We have an answer for you, and it’s both!
Peanut butter is tasty. On toast, a banana or even a spoonful. Jelly is tasty, too. Grape, strawberry, mixed fruit or some other flavor. On toast, a bagel or an English muffin. Each is good on their own, but once you combine them, you have an American icon in PB&J.
In the same way, PR and marketing are two great ways to promote your business, but combine them into a PR&M and you’ve really got something special. Let’s define each and look at how to find the right mix for you.
PRSA calls PR: “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
It covers things like contributed content, media relations, press conferences and plenty more. PR can really stretch a budget because the attention and impressions are earned, not paid. That means there’s no guarantee how many people will see news about your company, but the upside is limitless with a creative PR person or agency on your side.
Let’s go to the AMA for this one: “The activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Marketing involves more functions than PR but includes advertisements, branding, digital, content, design and more. Marketing can sometimes have earned impressions, but more often, reach and frequency comes at a cost. That’s the biggest difference between PR and marketing in our eyes.
Back to the start, PR and marketing work better together than alone for two major reasons:
- They overlap all the time. Is social media PR or marketing? What about your website? An announcement about your new product with a link to pre-order? If they’re not working towards the same goals, you’re wasting resources twice as fast.
- They should be saying the same thing. PR and marketing are two of the most common ways to talk to your audience. If PR says you’re family friendly and affordable and marketing says you’re edgier and premium, the market will be confused. They also need to be saying the same thing in the same way, using a consistent brand voice.
In some small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the marketer and the publicist usually equal the same person so it’s easier to be on the same page. That’s often not the case, so the two or more people in those roles should meet regularly to make sure the whole is greater than just the sum of parts.