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What Are the Key Differences Between Marketing and PR?

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Originally Posted On: What Are The Key Differences Between Marketing and PR? — Bastion Elevate


About 91% of marketers feel confident that they’re investing in the right programs to boost revenue. It’s not enough to have a marketing strategy, though. You need to consider your public relations (PR) strategy, too.

What’s the difference between PR and marketing, exactly? Keep reading to find out.

In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about marketing and PR. Then, you can determine which strategies suit your company’s needs.

Choosing the right strategies will help you boost your ROI! Get started by discovering the difference between PR and marketing today.

Definitions of PR and Marketing

First, it helps to understand how marketing and PR are defined separately.

Marketing involves promoting and selling products or services. A marketing strategy can include direct marketing, advertising, and promotions. These tactics are designed to boost sales.

PR, on the other hand, is the professional maintenance of a company or person’s public image. With PR, you can generate positive media coverage for your brand. You can improve your stakeholder communications, too.


Marketing and PR teams will need to set different goals before they start strategizing.

For example, a marketing team will try to reach consumers. They’ll want to help consumers think, complete, or believe a sales-focused action. Usually, these actions involve purchasing a product or service.

Public relations for small business teams involves selling the brand. With PR, you can strategize to positively manage all communication channels. These communication channels are often between the business and its stakeholders.

With marketing, the main goal is to drive direct revenue. With PR, it’s to drive a positive brand reputation.

Target Audiences

The difference between PR and marketing varies based on their target audiences, too.

With marketing, you’ll need to determine who your ideal customer is based on behaviors and demographics. Once you establish your target audience, it helps to break it into smaller groups. You can determine buyer personas based on:

  • Education

  • Marital status

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Household income

  • Language

  • Buying behaviors

  • Interests

  • Hobbies

  • Location

Each buyer thinks a little differently. You’ll need to develop a marketing strategy with each persona in mind. Otherwise, you might fail to reach your target audience.

Marketing helps you reach current or potential customers. PR, on the other hand, focuses on anyone who has an interest in the brand. With PR, the audience is usually broader, since it includes:

  • Customers

  • Employees

  • The media

  • Shareholders

Remember, you’ll need to pinpoint every member of your target audience before you can start strategizing.

Messaging Platforms

Marketing and PR teams use different platforms, too.

Public relations involves channels like conferences/conference speakers, reputable bloggers, and articles. These platforms are usually more legitimate than those chosen for marketing. Oftentimes, PR platforms carry more weight.

With marketing, you can reach customers through:

  • Your company website

  • Blogging

  • Social media

  • Another company’s blog (through guest blogging)

  • Search engines like Google

  • Emails

You can still develop your credibility through marketing strategies. In fact, you can use marketing and PR together to build your credibility.

Through your PR strategy, you can find speaking opportunities to demonstrate your experience and expertise. You can continue sharing your knowledge through marketing strategies like blogging. Your PR strategy will help you look more credible, which can support your marketing initiatives.


Marketing usually has a short-term lifespan. You’ll need to keep updating your marketing campaigns to ensure they’re fresh. Otherwise, consumers might get bored seeing the same messages and images.

PR, on the other hand, can reap benefits for an extended period of time. You could consider PR initiatives as a long-term investment. They’ll help your business experience achievements in the future.


Marketing is usually considered a business investment. You’ll pay for branding and promotional activities to generate sales. Reducing your marketing costs and increasing sales can boost your ROI.

You can measure the ROI of your marketing strategies based on different metrics, including:

  • Impressions

  • Clicks

  • Website visitors

  • Conversions

  • Sales

  • Form submissions

  • Cost-per-acquisition

PR, on the other hand, is considered free exposure to improve your image and credibility. It’s usually more difficult to calculate the ROI for public relations services. After all, you would need to measure a person’s perception, not sales.

Daily Responsibilities

Marketing and PR professionals have different daily responsibilities, too. For example, a marketing professional might spend the day:

  • Drafting a weekly email newsletter

  • Creating email marketing campaigns

  • Creating advertising campaigns for new products or services

  • Designing content for social media

  • Writing and posting blog posts

  • Conducting customer, competitor, and industry research

  • Creating supporting materials (landing pages, brochures, etc.)

  • Creating digital advertising campaigns

A PR professional, on the other hand, might spend the day:

  • Creating talking points for conferences

  • Speaking to the press about a company crisis

  • Securing speaking opportunities for an executive at an industry event

  • Writing a press release for an upcoming product launch

  • Announcing acquisitions or new team members

  • Pitching stories to the media

  • Building relationships with members of the media

With public relations for small business, the tasks are focused on news and reputation management. For marketing, they’re focused on products, services, and sales.

Measuring Success

When developing marketing and PR campaigns, it’s important to study the results of your campaigns.

A marketing professional might look at:

  • How social media followers, customers, and industry influencers are responding to a product

  • How much was spent on a marketing campaign versus sales to determine the ROI

  • Whether or not the product met or exceeded sales goals

For a PR professional, they might look for:

  • Positive press posted by top-tier trade publications and broadcast outlets

  • Awards from high-profile industry organizations

  • A buzz from social media followers, journalists, and industry influencers

As you can see, there is a slight overlap.

The Overlap

About 60% of marketing executives expect marketing and public relations to become more aligned in the future. Aligning your marketing and PR can help you generate more excitement for your brand.

You can use PR and marketing services to build a buzz for upcoming products and generate brand awareness. Learning how the two work together can help you grow your business in the new year.

Boosting Your Business: Understanding the Difference Between Marketing and PR

To recap, what’s the difference between PR and marketing? PR focuses on the brand’s reputation. Marketing focuses on selling and promoting products and services.

With both marketing and PR, you can boost your business and grow this year!

Need help developing a marketing and PR strategy? You’re in the right place.

Level up! Contact us today to get started.

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