Marketing Versus PR: What’s the Difference

11 Communications Experts On Marketing, PR & MarCom

Marketing Versus PR -What's the DifferenceThere’s a love-hate relationship between marketing and PR. While both marketing and PR are at their best when used together, many professionals feel that they need to choose one or the other.

To frame this conversation, marketing is defined by Dr. Phillip Kotler as: “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.” While the American Marketing Association (AMA) Board of Directors defines marketing as 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.

By contrast, here’s how PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) defines PR: “[Public relations] helps an organization and its publics 
adapt mutually to each other. Public Relations broadly applies to organizations as a collective group, not just a business; and publics encompass the variety of different stakeholders.”

When asked what was the difference between Marketing, PR, and MarCom (or Communications), here’s what eleven communications-area experts said

  • Marketing supports sales; public relations supports sales, marketing and overall company positioning internal and external; and MarCom is a function of marketing and promoting products and services versus overall company. Lisa Buyer – The Buyer Group
  • To me, marketing is more proactive while PR tends to be a bit more reactive. PR kicks in if there is news to report, a community that needs outreach, or a new product to promote. Marketing can help create responses that PR can then respond to. Marketing Communications to me seems more like a two-way conversation while marketing in particular can sometimes seem like the company sending information one-way to the audience. Marjorie Clayman – Clayman Advertising, Inc.
  • In line with the firm’s goals, marketing attracts consumers’ scarce resources, attention and disposable income, to drive profitable revenues. Marketing is the process of getting a product or service from a company to its end customers, from product development through the final sale and post-purchase support. Marketing extends across the customer’s entire purchase process including research, engagement, purchase, post-purchase (including supplemental support and returns) and advocacy.
    While traditionally the art of getting a person, company or other organization mentioned in the media, namely print, radio and television, PR’s has evolved. In the process, it’s been integrated into the overall marketing and communications plan. PR crafts an organization’s message(s) to its diverse publics including customers, prospects, investors, employees, suppliers, distributors, media/journalists, social media networks, the government and the public. These communications and their distribution must be search-friendly. Heidi Cohen – President, Riverside Marketing Strategies
  • The difference lies in the final goal – the end product of the activity:
    The purpose of marketing is to create and bring to market a product or service that people will buy.  The 4P’s of marketing are product, price, promotion and place.  Product covers R&D and the development of the product or service.  Price is all about the market.  Place is how and where you locate and distribute.  Promotion is everything from market research to advertising, special offers etc.  When you make a better mousetrap people will only beat a path to your door IF they know you have that better mousetrap and they know where the door is.
    The purpose of PR is to build relationships with all stakeholders – not just current and potential customers.  PR smoothes the way.  It creates a favorable operating climate in which it is easier to market, expand and be viable. As marketing guru Al Ries said, PR lights the fire, Marketing fans the flames
    MarCom is that part of PR that supports the marketing function.  It is the PR function focused on product and sales support, rather than the broader PR vision of image and reputation Sally Falkow – Press-Feed
  • Marketing is “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. “Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. And marketing communications (MarCom) are messages and related media used to communicate with a market.  In the twentieth century, when we created campaigns the way Ford used assembly lines to build cars, it was important to differentiate these things.  But in the twenty-first century, we need to redefine all of these activities, departments, processes, practices, messages and related media more holistically.  Otherwise, IT, not marketing, will be in charge of website optimization, customer service, not PR, will be in charge of social media, and corporate communications, not MarCom, will be in charge of online video. Greg Jarboe – SEO-PR
  • The lines are definitely blurry, but PR and MarCom fall under the general Marketing umbrella. Marketing encompasses the full scope of brand communication, ranging from advertising to sales support to PR and corporate social responsibility.  MarCom is narrower, but only slightly, than Marketing, and covers all of the marketing function except the creative process of advertising. Once the marketing message is developed by MarCom, the “advertising” team can develop it visually and develop a media buying strategy to support it.  PR manages the dialog with consumers, whether they are your customers yet or not. That happens directly, via social media, and through more traditional media channels. PR is the MarCom group that doesn’t get a budget to drive their goals. Advertising and MarCom can buy media, while PR’s key differentiator is that its media is earned. Corey Kronengold –Eyeview 
  • There should be no difference. All forms of communication should be integrated together – and that includes how you answer the phone, sign your email, post to Twitter and Facebook, etc. Communication should involve all available tools. Customer service also should be considered part of communications because if your customer service sucks, nothing else that you say matters. B.L. Ochman – What’s Next Blog
  • Marketing is the overall mix of activities that you undertake to get your product or service to market – to actually purchase, use and evangelize. Successful marketing rests on the best balance of levers within the mix, a deep and thorough understanding of the market/audience you are trying to reach, and a genuine desire to improve that market based on their wants and needs.
    PR is the set of activities, usually earned (but often triggered by a paid campaign), that are meant to drive the “top of the funnel”. Use of media – traditional and non-traditional – are optimized using key messages, delivered in the right markets, via engagement methods. The ultimate goals are to drive awareness, consideration and intent and also to reinforce the value and decision of doing business with you.MarCom is essentially the creative element – the design and application, the execution of the Marketing strategy (which is infused through PR as well). Judith Samuels – Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (Note some of you may know Judy by her Twitter handle–@ChiefLemonhead.)
  • Effective marketing never forgets that its purpose is to generate revenue with current and new customers. Effective marketing is marshalling all available resources to deliver constantly on the fundamental principle that it’s not what you want to sell, but what customers are looking to buy. Put another way, marketing Is the ability to have what the customer wants, while sales is the ability to motivate the customer to want what you have. Too often the pursuit of revenue forgets that sales will fail without the marketing foundation.
    Effective marketing focuses on delivering solutions, not products and/or services.  It engages and maintains a partnership with the customers – encouraging them to engage in purchasing the product/services portfolio and then making them feel good about having done so after the purchase.
    Effective marketing earns trust through every contact and transaction, and addresses the full array of constituents both outside and inside the organization. Demotivated employees cripple effective marketing.
    Effective marketers constantly think from the customer’s viewpoint and constantly ask, ‘”What’s in it for them?” and then listen with respect to what the customers say. That’s true for a commercial marketer as well as for the nonprofit sector, which is where one of us operates, and where the question would be: Why should someone support your mission with money or in-kind support or promote your message or buy your products and services?
    The best definition of PR comes from the master, Harold Burson, who wrote it a year ago at age 90. He says, “Public relations is an applied social science that influences behavior and policy, when communicated effectively, motivates an individual or group to a specific course of action by creating, changing or reinforcing opinions and attitudes.” 
Coincidentally the Public Relations Society of America is right now considering three new definitions of PR. All are awful. They sound like they come out of a Dilbert cartoon. None of the three comes close to the precision and clarity of Harold’s.
    MarCom done right is the well-coordinated integration of all communications resources to achieve the marketing objectives. Jim Siegel
HealthCare Chaplaincy  

Rob Swadosh – 
The Dilenschneider Group
  • Marketing is everything a brand, business or organization does to sell its goods, services and values. This ranges from establishing the brand identity/position; creating/tweaking new and existing products; setting price-points and promotions; briefing, motivating and inspiring the sales force, brand directors and customers; and creating promotional, consumer-facing strategies that build awareness, acceptance, affiliation and sales.
    MarCom is the myriad tools and tactics used to fulfill the brand marketing goal/vision and strategy. MarCom includes all the internal and external communications and activities undertaken to meet marketing objectives and build, maintain and protect brand share, perception and reputation in the marketplace. MarCom disciplines include and are not limited to advertising and public relations, social, digital, promo, experiential, direct and so on.
    Public Relations, with its P2P (person-to-person), two-way dialogue and human approach builds honest, open and transparent bridges of communication between a brand, business or organization and its constituent communities  — be they clients, customers, consumers, employees, the media, stakeholders, government and key influencers, and/ or all of the above. PR achieves this by community-building and tapping the power of positive third party, word-of-mouth, endorsement/ testimony/ tribute to create affiliation, loyalty and advocacy for your goods, services and/ or ideas. Deborah Weinstein – Strategic Objectives

While all of these professionals make distinctions between marketing, PR and MarCom and how they’re implemented, they all see them as related and using them together as the most effective way to engage and build audience.

How do you define marketing, PR and marcom? Please engage in the conversation and add your insights in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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