When I discuss differences between public relations and marketing, I cause trouble. People have a difficult time understanding what all the fuss is; I’m not here to exacerbate that, I’m trying to clarify. The best way I can do that is via my experience.
I have worked in PR 27 years as an agency brat (18 years spent in Chicago) my entire career. After a stretch, PR began to evolve; practitioners knew that marketing was where the profession was integrating. I made it my goal to become more marketing-esque, and when a recruiter from a large PR firm told me my resume looked more marketing oriented, I was happy (she wasn’t).
In a recent conversation I had with Scott Quillin of New England Multimedia, he made a spot-on statement. I have to share: In order to understand the differences between marketing and PR, you have to have solid experience in both. Indeed.
I work as chief marketing officer for one client and as a brand marketing manager for two others. The core of what I deliver each day, however, is derived from public relations — my profession.
I caused a bit of trouble recently over at Shakirah Dawud’s house in a guest post in which I suggested marketing writers and PR writers offered two different styles of writing. That article was re-posted twice on Ragan.com, and the comments were intense.
A commenter at Shakirah’s said, “Personally, I think we should stop talking about marketing vs. PR in regards to…pretty much anything.”
I respectfully disagree. I do so because my feet are firmly planted in both disciplines working every day in both. And, I asked my new client several days ago, “Which hat do you want me to wear for you, PR or marketing?”
Because the deliverables are different; the thinking is different but the outcome is the same. Regardless of whether you work in PR or work in integrated marketing, the end game is ROI, measurable results, business goals, sales, leads, and more.
My approach to get there is what may be a tad different, depending on which side of the aisle I’m walking (the right, the left, or in the middle). Do these examples below help or hinder an explanation?
A software developer wants to push its software to accounting firms.
As a PR person, I would:
- Hit the product team to find new features about the software that differentiate it from the rest of the industry
- Hit the industry to find data and research to support my new product
- Interview the chief spokesperson for a really good quote
- Draft a news release/story
- Identify some outlets that may cover my story
- Pitch my news with industry trends.
- Distribute an online press release to further news distribution.
As a marketer, I would:
- Invite a client to join a panel on a webinar
- Invite attendees to this free event by an email marketing campaign, newsletter, or a LinkedIn group announcement;
- Interview a consultant or other client to draft a white paper for download and lead gen on a website
- Prepare spokespeople for the upcoming tradeshow event to meet customers during a breakfast.
- Polish the product literature and deliver it in time for booth training at the tradeshow where we will hawk our software to prospects.
While these lists may not sound so terribly different, in the corporate sector, each is the purview of a separate department. I do both and I tip my hat in either direction because my core training drives my deliverables.
Have I caused more confusion or per chance was this helpful?