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The Difference Between PR and Marketing and How the Two Can Work Together

Digital marketing has taken over most businesses, leaving little room for PR. Data shows that most organisations spend 58% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.

However, brands that know the strong link between PR and marketing have not let go of traditional PR techniques. A recent survey shows that 45% of companies increased their PR spending in 2021. Only 5% reduced their budgets.

That’s because brands need to deliver trustworthy content to drive more website traffic. Press releases, often used for PR, are regarded as one of the most trustworthy types of content by 43% of consumers.

Therefore, it is crucial that you understand the differences between PR and marketing and how the two can be used together to build your brand and its reputation and drive sales. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Public Relations (PR)?

Public relations is a function and subset within marketing that uses strategic messaging and various non-promoted media channels to maintain, create, or improve a brand’s reputation, image, or relationships with the public.

The public includes parties you do not do business with but are important stakeholders in your company. They include employees, the community, investors, and the media.

Public relations professionals closely work in tandem with other marketing functions.

PR is also known as media relations. That’s because a significant role of public relations is interacting with the media, journalists, and editors to reactively respond to questions, concerns, or news and proactively create stories that help maintain or improve the authority or credibility of the brand.

PR also helps sell products, improve brand perception by the public, manage crises, and accomplish other company goals.

Characteristics and Qualities of Public Relations

These are the characteristics and qualities that outline what PR teams do.

Messaging and Audience

One of the essential duties of a PR professional is relaying the right messages to the right audience through the right channels.

Depending on your business goals, your audience will vary greatly. For instance, a business selling tech products will produce PR content targeted at tech reporters. A government agency may use more formal media to improve government relations.

Despite marketing being channelled to similar audiences at times, the objective and intent of the campaigns vary. The objective of a PR campaign is to influence the audience’s opinion and perception of the brand, whereas marketing campaigns influence the buyers to drive sales.

Communication Channels

Communication channels in PR are the various avenues you can use to pass your message to your audience. These non-paid external communication channels vary based on the PR goals and how your audience consumes information.

Some of the most common public relations channels include:

  • Media alerts
  • Media coverage and press releases
  • Speaking engagements at trade shows, in-person or virtual events, and podcasts
  • Thought leadership pieces such as contributed articles in trade publications or business press
  • Media interviews
  • Testimonials and customer/case stories.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is the promotion and selling of products and services. It involves advertising your brand and what it offers consumers, converting leads into customers, and driving sales.

Marketing thrives on control and ownership. Marketing techniques focus on controlling the message and its delivery through owned and paid channels. This mimics your control over what’s posted on your website, newsletter, blog, and social media platforms.

This is different from PR, where despite controlling the message and who you can pitch it to, it’s ultimately under the hands of the influencer or journalist to dictate how they’ll tell your story and, in some cases when they’ll do so.

With public relations, you hope the audience is interested and the timing is right, the influencer or journalist not delivering your message when there are conflicting events.

Despite being a rather familiar term, most business struggle with their marketing, making it a deal breaker for a brand’s success. Data shows that 49% of bloggers struggle to drive website traffic.

The Differences Between Marketing and Public Relations

Here’re a few essential differences between marketing and PR.

Target Audience

Often, PR and marketing strategies will target different audiences. The primary focus of a marketer is the customer or whoever will be making the buying decision. Establishing the right target group helps marketers improve the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and achieve the business’s marketing goals.

Public relations focuses on a larger audience, encompassing the media, customers, influencers, and other potential stakeholders. PR also depends on the company’s current needs.

PR and marketing do require the creation of user personas, who, in some cases, may overlap. The target audience is thoroughly scrutinised to determine behaviour, problems, decision-making process, and how they seek information.

Having the correct user persona makes it easier to accurately target marketing and PR communications and personalise them, yielding better results.

Operational Areas

Marketing is mostly centred around the market and its requirements. It involves elaborate planning, lead management, budgeting, and constant market research. Marketers rely on data to make decisions about promotion and advertising, leading to direct sales.

Public relations focuses on the brand’s environment, both within and outside. PR activities align company activities with stakeholder expectations.

Despite the disparate operational areas, marketing can’t be successful without PR. Any marketing strategy must be positively received by the audience, which PR takes care of through brand image.


The primary objective of marketers is to satisfy the needs of the consumer. They create a need with a potential customer and encourage them to purchase the product. Consequently, they generate sales and increase profits and revenue.

PR doesn’t create needs. Instead, it builds a positive brand image and shapes a positive perception of a business’s activities. Therefore, PR exercises will not always affect sales directly. Moreover, they don’t provide immediate results like some marketing campaigns.


Success in marketing and PR is measured differently. However, there are a few similarities.

Some KPIs and metrics used to measure the performance of PR campaigns include:

  • Brand mentions
  • Media coverage
  • Brand impact
  • Sales department response time
  • Share of voice (SOV)
  • User engagement and social media reach.

PR metrics are a drop in the ocean compared to the numerous available for marketing. Marketing campaigns can use PR metrics plus the following:

  • Digital marketing KPIs such as click-through-rate
  • Website metrics
  • Sales and revenue metrics
  • Social media metrics
  • Email marketing metrics
  • Sales and revenue metrics.

Since marketing metrics are more expansive, marketers often have to analyse more than PR managers. Marketing focuses heavily on quantitative data, while PR emphasises qualitative data.

Time Frame

Marketing focuses on the here and now. Most goals seek to improve sales performance with instantaneous results. Therefore, marketing goals are often short-term and can change rapidly based on current outcomes and developments.

On the other hand, PR requires patience. It’s a long-term investment that pays off after a considerable time.

Why Should PR and Marketing Teams Work Together

One survey showed that 98.2% of PR professionals find it essential to master and apply marketing techniques. That’s because PR and marketing teams working together can provide one of the best results for a brand in terms of sales, revenue, and image. 

These days, almost anyone on the internet is a content creator. That makes PR crucial for all businesses to ensure a consistent brand image across various voices.

Moreover, with significant volumes of content being created online daily, it’s becoming harder to stand out. Content marketing backed by PR thrives in this competitive environment, improving your brand’s visibility in a crowded space.

With good PR, you get major publishers to feature your content and trusted influencers to link to it. 

The end goals of PR and marketing are also too intertwined. To sell a product, you need to make people love the company. You’ll likely have a bad public image if you have terrible products. And if your brand is not connecting with people, they will most probably not buy your products.

Social media is a powerful channel for marketers and PR managers in both departments. A company’s community manager will often talk to journalists in one conversation and handle a disgruntled client in another. 

How You Can Merge PR and Marketing Strategies

So, how can you align your PR campaigns with marketing strategies? Here’re a few examples to help you gain more from your PR and marketing campaigns.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a powerful marketing tool, with data showing that 60% of marketers report writing at least 1-5 guest posts per month. But how does it merge with PR?

Blogging establishes you as an authority in the industry. By pitching your work to high-quality websites such as Entrepreneur and Forbes, you spread the word about your business to a new audience and showcase your expertise.

That is a big PR score.

Guest posts link back to your website, providing valuable marketing leads for your campaign. These links also boost your SEO efforts and improve brand awareness.

With more authoritative sites linking back to your work, Google will also start promoting your native blog posts, pushing your ranking higher in SERPs. Consequently, you get more click-throughs and more people into your sales funnel.

For the best results, the blogs you guest post to should meet the following criteria:

  • High engagement
  • An audience interested in your brand
  • An active presence on social media
  • Published content relevant to your industry or niche.

Optimising Email Marketing

The ROI of email marketing is one of the largest. Data shows that for every $1 spent, you can expect up to $36 return on your investment. Despite most email inboxes being overloaded, prospects who provide their email addresses are likelier to buy from you since they trust you with their time.

PR blends with email marketing from the perspective of relationship building, starting with the welcome email you send your prospect. This email helps you build an early connection with your leads by introducing your business, explaining how you can solve their problem, and building a positive sentiment towards the brand.

Welcome emails can also push PR campaigns by linking to press releases about your brand’s success. The more a lead engages with your email, the warmer they become towards the brand.

When it’s finally time to ask them to make a sale, they’re more likely to say yes.

Influencer Marketing

Previously, PR teams would seek journalists to get coverage in popular newspapers, magazines, and publications. Today, influencers are as essential to PR campaigns as journalists. They offer an excellent amplification channel for a brand’s image.

Influencers are powerful PR tools because they closely relate to their audience, who trust the brands, products, and services they recommend. As a result, marketing teams also get better ROI from them compared to traditional media.

You can increase positive brand sentiment, high-quality leads, and brand awareness by connecting with the right influencers in your niche.

Most of these influencers have an audience on social media. Your community manager can interact with their content, with the team following the most popular topics and hashtags among the influencer’s audience.

Instead of going for big names, you can focus on influencers whose topics relate to your brand. This way, you can maximise your budget and still get high-quality leads.

Optimising Press Releases for SEO

SEO is a significant component of content marketing. Your organic reach is non-existent if your landing pages and blog posts are not optimised for search engines. As a result, your business suffers from zero leads and poor sales.

Press releases, a core component of PR, are often neglected regarding SEO. However, they can be an essential part of your SEO strategy.

Optimising press releases for search and integrating links to your landing pages from high domain authority sites helps your brand rank higher in search. To do this, you’ll have to:

  • Include keywords in your press release
  • Include visuals
  • Use a strategic CTA that asks users to visit your social media pages, read a comprehensive blog post about the subject, or check out a new study from your brand.

Work with a Content Marketing Professional Who'll Team Up with Your PR Team

In this age of digital marketing, it is impossible to ignore the power of combining PR and content marketing in your overall brand strategy. Get in touch with a professional copywriter today and let them work with your PR team to deliver content that sells and bolsters your brand image.

Over to You…

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