A lot of people ask the question – aren’t marketing and PR the same?  No, they belong in your Promotional strategy but are very different tools.
Here are four differences between these two promotional tactics that will allow you to decide which direction you go.

COST: Paid vs. Free

In the majority of cases, marketing is paid and PR is free. Many companies have marketing teams or budgets, while PR is often the poor cousin – no one really understands the power of PR.

Marketing efforts typically require some sort of budget, whether to purchase advertising space or enact a campaign, hence the need for allocated funds and resources.

PR, in most cases, doesn’t cost anything as the primary focus is getting journalists (online and print) to focus on the story and provide coverage for you.  However it is simply not just a case of saying marketing costs money and PR is free.   There is so much more to PR then just simply ‘free advertising’.

CHIEF OBJECTIVE: Value vs. Image

While both marketing and PR focus on boosting business and promoting a brand or event, their chief objectives are not the same. Marketing focuses on the specific market and building sales; PR primarily focuses on building relationships.

Marketing is very strategic and focuses on sales, it is much more aggressive as it aims to push the brand to potential customers. PR is much more about building relationships and exposing the brand to the public via a range of mediums including online blogs, radio, newspapers and television.

While marketing and public relations complement each other, they have different purposes.  Marketing is about building customer interest; PR is about building customer relationships.

CONTENT: Spin vs. Straight

When it comes to content, marketing is about grabbing the interest of the audience immediately – it is much more visually appealing.
PR, on the other hand, is more about attracting the media through a press release or a news story.
Content is what does the work in marketing, communicating and informing the customer; but content is just the beginning with PR, the media can take your story anywhere – its just a case of how much imagination they have!

CONTROL: Full vs. Released

A major difference between marketing and PR is the level of control companies have. With marketing, a business controls all promotional materials, from branding to contests to messaging. With PR, on the other hand, control is reduced as soon as it submits its press release or story.

The PR department can pitch a story with a specific emphasis they want the media to focus on, but the media will choose the focus they want, which means the original message can be changed for the media’s own needs.

Which to Choose? Should You Choose?

Social Media is changing the way marketing and PR work together which means they will begin to overlap more.

Businesses can use their Twitter streams and Facebook pages to market themselves and create specific public relations messages. While press releases and marketing campaigns provide clear differences between the two subjects, social media is bringing the two together, making businesses more efficient and effective.”

So what does this mean for your business and is one more important than the other?
There is no real answer to this question, other than look at your business requirements and formulate a strategy that will allow your business to take advantage of the best tools.   Do you want total control?  Then marketing is your best option.

Are you willing to release control for free publicity? PR is your best tool.  Are you most concerned with promoting your product or service, or do you want to ensure your company’s image is best represented to public?

When you know and understand your goals, then you will be able to create a clear strategy – whether you choose marketing, PR or both.