For those moments when you’re thinking, “I need new business –- and quick!”

The Difference Between PR & Marketing 13 June 2007

Filed under: Copywriting,Marketing,Promotion,Publicity,Small Business — worddocdooley @ 1:32pm

Question: “Part of my problem is I think that I don’t understand what the difference is between PR and marketing! Can you help?”

Answer: Don’t worry, many people don’t know there is a difference between marketing and PR!

While PR – also known as public relations – has recently grown in stature within the ‘marketing’ promotional mix, it’s most usually associated with relationships. Whereas marketing is about selling.

With marketing, your goal is to get some kind of action from your readership. You might send a letter asking people to send off for a free sample. You might send a postcard with a tear-off section that people can complete and return to you for a catalogue or voucher. And so on.

PR includes image building and management, unpaid media placements, and publicity, making use of press releases, media kits, press conferences, and such.

In this sense, public relations is a facet of marketing that is focused on promoting beneficial relationships with identified audiences (‘publics’).

First, PR is all about relationships, mainly building them. We could be talking about a relationship between a chief executive offer and his employees. Or a relationship between two existing businesses. Maybe it is an organisation’s relationship to its investors. Whatever the case, PR seeks to create and then maintain positive relationships with its many publics.

Marketing, on the other hand, is concerned with the market (doh!). It is driven by consumers’ wants and needs.

So you could say that the first big difference between PR and marketing is the agenda of each discipline.

Secondly, PR creates a two-way communication between itself and its publics.

OK, all very well. But what if you need a plan of action, or at least an idea of where to spend your PR/marketing money?

Marketing should not be regarded as an expense, but rather as a financial investment – new customers are a return on that investment.

It is really a question of balance. At every stage of your business development, you need to assess how much to allocate to your marketing budget. It is not just a question of what you can afford. Rather, it’s more a question of what you have to spend in order to expose your business to your target market. Becoming aware of the different media options, as well as non-media options, such as word-of-mouth, is the first stage.

Need More Help Being a News Source the Media Will Love?

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COPYRIGHT © T Dooley,, All Rights Reserved

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23 Responses to “The Difference Between PR & Marketing”

  1. […] The Difference Between PR & Marketing […]

  2. Good article, I agree with you, PR and marketing are truly different. But I think that PR is more related about relation to other people, looks like social network….and marketing is all about gaining customer to earn money!

  3. B.G. Smith Says:

    Not to confuse things, but I think that marketing is more about relationships than you admit. I actually focus on PR, myself, and think you’ve got a great definition here for PR, but marketing isn’t just about selling things. Read stuff from Philip Kotler, David Aaker, and Kevin Keller, and they reveal Marketing is more than just selling, it’s about creating an entity with which customers can create a relationship. It’s about image, reputation, and relationships. I think calling it “selling” waters it down a little. Good distinctions here, though.

  4. PR Channel Says:

    I agree that PR & Marketing are fundamentally different. It boils down to the idea that marketing is based in influencing sales and hiking the bottom line. While that’s (hopefully) an outcome of good PR it’s not the main focus. PR is all about building relationships and fostering goodwill between a company and their clients/consumers.

    Actually just finished a blog post about this exact topic!

  5. Steve Turner Says:

    A great explanation on this topic. I do agree with BG though that marketing is just not sales. Often it involves channels of product distribution and how items are brought to the store shelves as well as trying to “sell” them to the public. Pr has many facets, too many of which to discuss here.

  6. Hi everyone

    Thanks for stopping by and your useful comments. Much appreciated.

    Just like PR, marketing has many definitions and functions. But at its basic level, its job is to identify the groups of people most interested in your products or services, find solutions to their problems, secure new customers/clients as well as ensuring you continue to meet the needs of your existing customers/clients.

    Of course, you have to build trust and credibility to market well, and that involves building a relationship with your prospects.

    My newsletter delves into this a lot deeper. You can sign up to it or read some selected articles here:

    Hope this helps!

    Take care…

    NB: Please note my NEW blog address (I haven’t posted to this one for quite some time now):

    Take care!

  7. […] found a blog, called that explainds in the simplest way the difference between PR and marketing: PR is about building […]

  8. Though all the contributions made are good and they command high academic grades but the issue of the difference between pr and marketing is minute to the one we hearing.that pr is like an iceberg of marketing

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  11. Thank you all for your kind comments.

    Just to remind you of my NEW blog address (I haven’t posted to this one for quite some time now and don’t intend to for the foreseeable future):

    @nancy (“retail & brand communication agency”), I don’t pay for guest posts, but will gladly consider publishing a guest post on my current blog (see above).

    As the site owner, and owner of the parent company,, I reserve the right to edit posts accepted for publication on my blog; however, the original author retains rights of ownership for the piece.

    I would need to see all articles in full before deciding whether it meets my publishing guidelines and I reserve the right to reject any article that does not meet my expectations. Contact me here via the form at with a brief (no more than 50 words) pitch and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

    Please pitch your article(s) with in mind, focusing on a topic that fits within a current category.

    NB: a good pitch can include a note about why you are specially qualified to write about your subject. A good pitch can also show me you can write. ;0


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  14. Dan Omolo Says:

    Great! Remember PR and marketing are corporate allies than adversaries. Marketing is more pursuesive while PR creates mutual understanding but without PR marketing can never succeed. Marketing is short term while PR is planned and sustained!

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