Public Relations Vs. Marketing: Is there a difference?

Although they work in tandem, Public Relations and Marketing serve different but equally important purposes. Ultimately, when executed correctly both will help elevate your brand and increase sales of your businesses’ products or services. Read this article to learn the differences between PR vs Marketing and how each can benefit your brand.

With an overwhelming amount of marketing-related terms and practices being utilized today, many entrepreneurs are left wondering what’s what. Even marketing professionals find themselves using terms like “public relations” and “branding” interchangeably, which is not accurate. Although the explosion of social media has blurred the lines of marketing definitions over the last decade, each area still serves a separate yet critical purpose. By correctly identifying the function of various marketing-related terms you can craft better defined campaigns. Two of the most commonly confused terms are “PR” and “Marketing.” Here’s the difference between the two:


The word “marketing” is the most interchanged term among even industry professionals. This, however, is not totally inaccurate. Marketing can be thought of as the umbrella under which all marketing-related activities reside. These activities include public relations, advertising, digital marketing, branding, and research. Basically, any method used to promote your brand is a component of marketing.
Marketing is the action of promoting and selling products or services directly to customers. The success of these actions is measured by direct revenue and the overall reach of your campaign to your target audience. Although most marketing efforts are short-term, there are components (such as PR) that are executed over longer periods of time.

Public Relations

Public Relations involves maintaining a positive reputation in the eyes of a company’s stakeholders. These stakeholders include customers, employees, suppliers, investors, and the media. As society becomes more adept to marketing practices it has become easier for consumers to detect when they’re being advertised to. Public Relations generally involves generating positive media coverage through a variety of events and initiatives that align with stakeholders’ interests.
Because the primary goal of PR is creating positive perception and building relationships, success is not as easily measured as other marketing-activities like advertising which measures campaign success by the return on investment (ROI.) PR also requires long-term efforts as perception takes time to build and does not always immediately convert into sales.

The Bottom Line

While public relations is an essential component under the marketing umbrella, it serves a defined purpose that should work in conjunction with all other marketing-related activities. Understanding the difference between each major marketing activity will ensure future campaigns are refined in a manner that will elevate both your brand and increase sales of your products or services.
Ultimately, successful public relations campaigns will improve your brands reputation, as the reputation builds consumers will more easily connect with your brand and therefore are more likely to purchase your products or services.

by Isaiah Bradford