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Public Relations vs. Marketing: What's the Difference?

Public Relations vs. Marketing: What's the Difference?

Marketing, advertising, public relations (PR), communications… they’re all different words that mean the same thing, right? Wrong! Each has its own purpose, set of best practices, and goals. Yet, many professionals still get them confused. 

It’s an understandable circumstance as most of the terms above play vital roles in shaping a company’s image, reputation, and success. However, each one offers a company its own set of results. In this article, we’re diving into the differences between public relations and marketing. 

What is Public Relations?

Public relations is the ongoing act of establishing a brand or individual’s presence in the media and the public eye. It’s all about having your story told the way you want to tell it through mainstream media outlets such as magazines, podcasts, industry events, and the like. The primary goal? To enhance visibility, establish credibility, build stakeholder trust, and foster long-term success.

With strategic public relations, you can ensure: 

  • Promotion in top industry and mainstream media publications, adding credibility to your brand 

  • High-quality backlinks to your website from major media outlets 

  • The ability to share your earned media placements on social media, via email, and through other means of marketing 

And the results of all the above? PR enables you to: 

  • Build authority and credibility in your niche 

  • Attract more of the right people for the right reasons 

  • Grow your customer base and increase your topline revenue

👉 Get your copy of The Ultimate Playbook to Building a Winning PR Strategy for Cannabis Brands to uncover actionable insights to build an effective PR strategy.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is the act of promoting your product or service through your own channels, such as your website, email, and social media. Likewise, there are different subsets of marketing, including content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing. 

Typically, the goal of marketing is to present target audiences with a surefire solution to a problem they’re facing, encouraging the audience to make a purchase. Marketing’s priorities include:

  • Generating leads and nurturing them to become customers

  • Researching the market to identify new ways to connect with buyers

  • Driving revenue

The results are as such:

  • Increased sales

  • Brand recognition and awareness

  • Rapid lead generation

The Difference Between Public Relations & Marketing

Let’s take a look at an example of the differences between PR and marketing. The THC-infused beverage company, BRĒZ, shared its own funny message on its Instagram account on May 4th (A.K.A. “May the 4th be with you” day for Star Wars fans). 

BRĒZ Instagram Post

The post’s caption said, “May the Fourth be with you! Join the Light side and embrace the clarity and joy of BRĒZ. Experience euphoria and relaxation without the downsides. Celebrate with us and feel the positive force of our organic blends! 😮‍💨🌿🍄” 

This is an example of marketing. It’s a message directly from the brand itself, being told directly to customers and potential customers via the company’s own social media account. 

On the other hand, BRĒZ was mentioned earlier this year in USA Today’s Reviewed column in an article titled, “Finish Dry January Strong With Some of the Best Mocktails We’ve Tested.”

USA Today's Reviewed article of BRĒZ

This high-profile media coverage reaches a wide range of consumers, some of which have probably heard about BRĒZ for the first time through this publication. It goes on to say positive sentiments about BRĒZ that can positively influence readers to purchase. For instance, the article appeals to those with certain dietary restrictions and states, “BRĒZ is made with high-quality, non-GMO ingredients like elderflower, lion's mane, and agave nectar for a sweet drink that even those with dietary restrictions can enjoy.”

In this scenario, USA Today serves as a third-party that’s authenticating the benefits and value of BRĒZ products. It's this kind of social proof that corroborates a brand is credible, has high-quality products, and is a worthwhile option compared to competitors. In fact, 92% of consumers trust earned media more than any other form of marketing or advertising. 

What Happens When Marketing and Public Relations Work Together?

At the end of the day, both public relations and marketing teams want the same thing: to grow the company and achieve success. And really, one without the other is like bread without butter—they simply go together. That’s why it’s imperative that both teams work together. Here’s how to do it:

Align on End Goals and Objectives

Both PR and marketing teams should work closely to ensure that everyone understands revenue targets, ideal client profiles, target markets, and common buyer objections. This alignment helps the public relations team build campaigns that speak directly to decision-makers, resonate with target audiences, and also enables the marketing team to leverage this information to develop their campaigns as well.

Overcome Objections in Your Communication

One of the most effective ways to create content that moves the needle on revenue is by addressing pain points and common objections while conducting interviews, speaking on podcasts, or writing thought-leadership pieces. For example, if potential customers are often concerned about the quality or safety of a particular product, the public relations team needs to focus on communicating the company's commitment to quality and safety. By thoughtfully addressing common objections, the public relations team has a clear path to supporting new business developments, and making the marketing team's job easier and more effective.

Maximize Media Opportunities to Educate

A public relations team should work tirelessly to secure media opportunities that allow talking heads of brands and businesses to share insights about the industry as it pertains to their expertise and unique vantage point. By positioning oneself as a source of trusted information and knowledge for potential customers, business leaders should lean into a variety of angles and opportunities to maximize brand awareness for themselves and their business by building lasting relationships with writers, reporters, and journalists.

Spot Opportunities to Amplify Big Announcements

If your company is launching a new product, expanding into a new market, or has an exciting development that's newsworthy, the public relations team should work alongside the marketing team to look for opportunities to plug the announcement into media coverage by way of interviews, articles, appearances on targeted shows, and more. By generating a buzz for big, upcoming announcements, your company will remain top of mind with your target audience, and the third-party validation of others talking about it will bolster your brand's authority, trust, and credibility–something that can help turn a hesitant lead into an excited new customer.

Final Thoughts

Public relations and marketing, while different in theory and practice, are both crucial elements of a killer promotional strategy. If you’re looking to augment your marketing program, PR is likely the next best step. Let’s chat about how we can help boost your company’s visibility, credibility, and growth with strategic public relations. Get in touch with us.


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