what is public relations… Marketing VS Public Relations–The final showdown(?) by Janet Krenn

Knowing the difference between marketing and public relations seems like a scholarly exercise… until you consider applying for a PR job under the supervisory umbrella of the marketing department, or you have to write a marketing plan to define how your company will use public relations to achieve marketing goals.

So what is the difference between between public relations and marketing? I’ve looked at several sites to try to come up with an answer.

What’s the difference?

Marketing: Definitions and Partial Definitions

  • “…marketing exists to sense, serve, and satisfy customer needs at a profit.” (from Public Relations: Concepts and Practices, republished)
  • “marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit” (Philip Kotler)
  • “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders” (American Marketing Association)

Public Relations: Definitions and Partial Definitions

  • “Public relations exists to produce goodwill in the company’s various publics so that the publics do not interfere in the firm’s profit-making ability.” (from Public Relations: Concepts and Practices, republished)
  • “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” (Public Relations Society of America)

The Visual Description
Perhaps the most interesting comparison of public relations and marketing come from an older, but still very relevant  post on The Brand-Builder Blog.

What are the Major Differences?

Role within the Organization
In a company, marketing promotes goods and services to consumers. These activities are projected from the company outward. Public relations works to “help the organization and its publics adapt mutually to one another”, according to one professor. PR activities should strive to have a back-and-forth relationship with the world outside the company, by projecting information and working with others. In other words, putting the “relationship” in public relations.

Measures of Success
Because the goal of marketing is sales, the success of their efforts can be measured in profits. The goal of PR is to build positive impressions of their client or company. So publics’ perceptions become the measurement tool in public relations.

Is there Overlap?

Jack Trout, a prolific author on the subject, would say that positioning is the process of “owning space in a person’s mind.” For example, what company do you think of when I say the word “happy”? For about 75% of people, Disney comes to mind (Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin). Disney “owns” the word happy.

Marketing and public relations work in tandem to position a company. Marketing does the research to determine what the position of the company is and should be. Public relations promotes the image and position of the company through events and news.

How Do You Think Marketing and PR are Different or Related?

Do you think marketing and PR are more related than different? Do you think I missed some key similarities or differences? Leave comments!

JANET A. KRENN is Communication Co-Chair of the New Professionals Section of PRSA. If you’re a member of the New Professionals Section, and you’d like to contribute to the New Pros’ blog, email her at janetqs(at)gmail dot com