If I had a pound for every time I have been asked “so what even is PR?” I’d probably have paid off my student loan by now. After giving them a quick definition, nine times out of ten, the question is followed by “oh so that’s just like marketing/advertising/journalism/*insert other different discipline here*”.
Admittedly, yes, there are on occasions some overlaps between the disciplines, but it only seemed sensible to clear it up for those of you that still aren’t sure and think that the three are the same.
Let’s start with definitions. PR is:
“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.” – CIPR
Whereas marketing is:
“The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer. It includes the coordination of four elements called the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, place, and promotional strategy.” – Business Directory
But then if you look at advertising, it is defined as:
So those are the definitions, but what do they really mean? Where are the differences?
PR is “earned understanding” which is very different to the “paid announcements” in advertising. PR practitioners work to write newsworthy press releases and generate coverage without paying the publication or media outlet to run the story. The story gets in on it’s worth. Whereas in advertising, you get exactly what you pay for.
Marketing is different again. It’s how the product or service is positioned in the market – the “management process”. Marketing professionals look at pricing, what products to sell, where to sell them and how to encourage more buys from promotions (which could be coupons, competitions, free gifts etc.)
One of the other key differences is that advertising and marketing are one-way communication – they just tell you what they want you to know. PR is two-way, encouraging feedback and conversation. The table below, from the University of Michigan, outlines some other differences.
Do you know any other ways in which PR, marketing and advertising differ? And what are your thoughts when people say they are the same thing? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time…