marketing & public relations

3 Key Differences Between Marketing & Public Relations

In the past, marketing & public relations operated as two separate entities. Today, however, brands adopt their favorite social media platforms and blur the lines between the two. Smaller companies remain notorious for overlapping the lines between marketing & public relations, never stopping to consider what doing so means. Knowing how to differentiate between the two remains important, though. The following information explains these differences and why they are of importance.

An Overview

Public relations officers work to maintain the favorable image of a brand, company, person, or organization. They address negative publicity and work to ensure positive information is shared with the public. In contrast, marketing involves the promotion and selling of products and services and includes tasks such as advertising and market research. Marketing focuses on promoting and selling a particular product or service, while public relations centers on building and maintaining a positive reputation for the overall brand or company. What are the key differences between these two tasks? The following provides an overview, and one can learn more from Violet PR.


Marketing uses promotional materials to target the desired audience using various channels. In the past, marketing comprised advertising on television or through the mail in most cases. With the introduction of the internet, a whole new world opened up to those in this field. Today, consumers see marketing messages on billboards, blogs, across social media platforms, and more. Email remains a key method for reaching the target audience, and marketers use many other tactics to ensure their product or service is seen by the public. For example, flash mobs are used to gain attention for a product or service.

Public relations, on the other hand, involves the use of a targeted media strategy to share the desired message. Press releases offer one means of getting this message out with media pitches being another. Public relations offices function to ensure the brand or company receives positive coverage in publications and across different media outlets. Furthermore, these individuals communicate with stakeholders to ensure they remain informed of the company’s latest actions.

The two platforms do intersect at times. For instance, the marketing team often sends emails out sharing a recently published article. However, each team uses different tactics as they connect with different audiences. Public relations activities focus on stakeholders while marketing activities work to encourage action by consumers.


Marketing & public relations messages differ in terms of their tone. Marketing messages come with an actionable tone, as the business wants to see the consumer engage with the brand. Calls to Action (CTAs) remain common in marketing messages for this reason. Marketers’ goal is to increase revenue and achieve short term results. New products and services come out regularly and will need similar promotion. Marketing messages focus directly to the consumer.

Public relations messages, on the other hand, come with a positive, factual tone. They tell a story in a way that improves the company or brand reputation. Credible sources boost the visibility of the message which is why public relations officers work to share the message through a local, statewide, national, or international outlet. Consumers regard these messages as more credible because they aren’t driven by the business’s desire to boost sales. Rather, these messages function to drive a positive reputation for the company or brand, with the goal being to establish a long-term investment in this company or brand. Public relations messages work to encourage a positive relationship with any person or entity with an interest in the company or brand.

Measuring Success

Marketing & public relations professionals must measure the success of campaigns they launch. Doing so requires the use of different metrics based on the desired outcome. When it comes to a marketing campaign, companies measure success by analyzing sales goals, profit, and return on investment. In contrast, public relations professionals measure success through the building of beneficial relationships with key audiences.

Metrics used when measuring the success of a marketing campaign include organic search, referral, social, and direct traffic. Companies must know where traffic is coming from and use this information when determining which campaigns are successful and where changes must be made. User demographics benefit companies by providing information about their success when targeting specific audiences, and link building metrics do the same. These are a few metrics analyzed by marketers when they assess the success or failure of their efforts.

Public relations professionals use a distinct set of metrics when evaluating the success of their efforts. They look at brand mentions, social shares, and sales stats when conducting this analysis. Social media engagement and website traffic need to be considered because a public relations campaign fails if it doesn’t draw attention to the business. Media impressions play a role in the success or failure of a campaign, and the same is true of lead generation. Determining the success of the PR campaign requires collecting initial data before the campaign begins and comparing this information with the end results to determine the impact of these efforts.

Marketing & public relations professionals function to achieve the goals of a company while fulfilling its mission. Recognizing the differences between the two remains of great importance for this reason, as these differences play a role when crafting strategies. However, the sectors frequently intersect, thus steps need to be taken to integrate marketing and public relations methods for the best results.

When the two sectors effectively engage, the business finds it easier to tell a story and reach the desired audience. For instance, an impact ad often becomes a news story. Budweiser and the Clydesdale horses provide a good example of this. The horses are more than a marketing tool or mascot for the company. They have become an integral part of the company’s history and brand and are known the world over as a result. When you combine your marketing and PR efforts, you may find you have similar results and benefit your company in the long run.

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