If you work in marketing or public relations, you may understand how difficult it can be to explain the differences between the two to friends and family who lack experience in either industry.

In the age of the internet and social media, the lines between marketing and PR have become blurred; many people think they are one and the same, but they are two parts of a whole that comprise a cohesive communication and branding strategy. The two have a shared goal of bringing public awareness to a company and driving successful business results. However, a lack of distinction between marketing and PR can potentially be damaging to the objectives of both endeavors.

When PR and marketing professionals fail to differentiate the two, it can lead to a potential disadvantage in building a positive reputation with the company’s target audience. Although there are obvious similarities, there are many critical differences that distinguish one from the other.

Marketing is a broad term, encapsulating PR under its wide umbrella. The primary goal of marketing is to increase revenue and generate leads. Through various channels, a marketing department or agency provides the sales team with what they need to close deals. Some tasks that are unique to marketing professionals include purchasing advertising space on social media platforms, television or more traditional mediums such as print, radio and billboards. Marketers also implement tools such as SEO (search engine optimization) to improve company visibility in Google search results.

Marketing has also grown to include other facets, such as influencer marketing in the social media era. One of the most significant distinctions between marketing and PR is that marketing placements are paid. Success as a marketer is measured by return on investment for paid advertisements through tracking statistics such as open rates, click-through rates, marketing-generated leads and social media engagement. Ultimately, the goal of these efforts is to increase revenue and brand awareness.

On the other hand, PR is an ongoing process with a long-term goal of elevating a company’s credibility, building visibility for key executives and fostering relationships with members of the media to secure coverage in publications read by their target audiences to create brand equity.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, the formal practice of what is now commonly referred to as “public relations” dates back to the early 20th century. Since that time, PR has been defined in a myriad of ways, the definition often evolving alongside changing roles and advances in technology. At its core, PR is about influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across numerous platforms to shape and frame the public perception of an organization. While PR can assist in magnifying a company’s marketing efforts, it is only a minor element of the potential of PR.

PR agencies like Treble adapt to their clients’ specific needs to create a strategic game plan for long-term success. Some components that encompass a typical PR strategy are as follows:

  • Media relations 
  • Analyst relations
  • Award sourcing, drafting, and submission
  • Sourcing and drafting speaking submissions for industry events
  • Social media management
  • Thought leadership
  • Strategic content drafting and placement
  • Trendjacking: providing media with a thoughtful, real-time analysis of current news stories

Robust marketing and PR strategies are both essential in helping companies stand out from the noise. Each side, in fact, can learn a lot from the other. PR pros can benefit from the traditionally data-driven culture of marketing campaigns. And marketing teams can learn how influence and storytelling methods allow them to engage with audiences more effectively. And although marketing and PR take different approaches, their goals should ultimately align: help companies become even stronger and more successful.