For many people, there isn’t much difference between marketing and public relations. Unless you work in the industry, it’s tough to tell exactly what separates the two. Keeping up with recent PR trends and digital marketing jargon is quite the undertaking unless you live and breathe marketing like we do.
Much of the confusion between marketing and PR comes from their overlapping objectives. It’s true that both marketing and public relations serve to improve the public standing of a company. Oftentimes, marketing and public relations work together as part of a comprehensive campaign.
Understanding the difference between the two – and when to use them – could help you forge new growth with your company.
Here are answers to the 8 most frequently asked questions in public relations.
What is Marketing vs. PR?
As marketing and PR professionals, we’re often asked what’s the difference between the two. While both activities work to improve the standing of the company, the main difference between marketing and PR is the primary focus and methods.
The ultimate goal of marketing is to increase sales through marketing campaigns such as pay-per-click advertising, SEO, email marketing, and content.
On the other hand, public relations strives to develop positive brand awareness through effective messaging and communication with the public. This includes coverage in the press, relationship building, and social media.
To better define the two, marketing is usually a paid endeavor through advertising, whereas public relations is a free endeavor through earned media in the press or online.
What Do PR Services Entail?
With the main objective being the cultivation of a positive brand image, PR is a bit of an all-encompassing term. From publicity and media exposure to blogging and social media, a well-defined strategy is a must.
A big part of public relations is messaging. A good PR team will help define your mission, values, and goals in a compelling way, while also taking your competitors into consideration. These key messages will be translated into copy across the brand and play a crucial role in media relations, another important service in PR.
Probably the most well-known service, media relations is often confused with PR as a whole. This is how your company engages and interacts with the media. Exercising their relationships with journalists, PR professionals turn a client’s core messaging or newsworthy content into a compelling story for the media to cover.
- More PR services include:
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Event Marketing
- Influencer Relations
- Crisis Management
Why Should I Use PR Instead of Advertising?
While most companies should include both advertising and PR in their marketing strategy, they play very different roles.
Advertising is the method of creating paid announcements to be promoted through a variety of channels such as online, print, TV, and radio, while PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships.
Although advertising may provide quicker results, the benefits of PR are long-lasting. For example, your audience will likely resonate, believe, and take note of key messages from an article as opposed to a paid advertisement seen while scrolling through social media.
How Has PR Changed in the Last 15 Years?
Many of the industry changes in the last few years have graciously made PR faster, cheaper, and better.
For starters, sharing news is faster. Gone are the days where press releases are typed and mailed to a magazine or newspaper, followed by the excruciating waiting game that could likely result in a letter of denial. Now if you have a press release ready to go, it can be published instantaneously.
Getting news out in today’s digital world is also cheaper. Before PR pros could effectively reach thousands of people for a minimum investment, you had to hold a press conference. Getting your message out digitally is more affordable, saving money – and time – on travel expenses.
As a digital marketing agency, we thrive on data. You could even say we nerd-out over it. With no real way to track how many people engaged with your article 15 years ago, our little analytical hearts would be left unfulfilled.
Fortunately, today we can find out exactly how many people clicked the link in a press release, what they did with it, where they live, etc. Knowing the data behind the messages distributed helps determine what is and isn’t working, leaving plenty of room for growth.
How Important is PR to My Small Business?
As a small business, we understand the importance of stretching your dollar. Admittedly, public relations takes more time and dedication, but earned media won’t cost you nearly as much as paid advertising. The trust and credibility you’re building is also worth more than your ad spend in the end. Remember the long-lasting PR benefits we mentioned earlier?
Additionally, small businesses often rely heavily on word-of-mouth, and a bad review can put a big dent in your brand’s credibility. Implementing a PR strategy that involves crisis and community management can help prevent issues and bad publicity by staying on top of what’s being said about your business.
What Should I Expect When Hiring an Agency for PR Services?
Public relations takes time. It isn’t an overnight “fix” to marketing. An agency can take your message farther and give it greater impact, but there’s no denying that it takes time to build rapport, trust, and loyalty with the public.
One caveat, though. You can very quickly make a splash in the public realm. A well-written and perfectly timed press release can get you quicker exposure and raise greater awareness than an advertising campaign. However, once the story is published, it will fade from the public’s memory quickly. You must sustain your messaging and communications over time.
How Do You Measure Success in PR?
Depending on the goal of the campaign, PR pros measure success in several ways:
- Press Mentions From Target Publications
- Media impressions
- Social Media Engagement
- Tracking Website Traffic
- Measuring Number of Backlinks to Your Website
Why Should I Hire a PR Professional?
A business’s success largely depends on trust and public recognition. PR professionals have worked hard to build meaningful relationships with journalists and media contacts. They also have access to tools that allow them to communicate quickly with the press and other online publications.
Hiring a team to help with your PR is not only beneficial as media specialists, but it can save you a ton of time. PR is tedious and there are no shortcuts when it comes to building substantial relationships.