How Marketing and PR Can Get Along

By Casey Douglas, Account Supervisor at PRLab.

To the untrained eye, the disciplines of marketing and public relations can seem like nearly identical fields, occupying two sides of the same coin. However, their respective aims are slightly different: marketing aims to drive sales and improve a client’s or company’s profits through outreach efforts, while public relations seeks to improve a client’s or company’s positive reputation/perception through outreach efforts. Metaphorically speaking, marketers hope to engage a person’s wallet, and PR professionals are out to win over someone’s heart. Regardless, you’d think that each discipline would happily support the other, right? Wrong.

Instead, marketing and public relations often find themselves at odds with one another, especially as they vie for the same chunk of an institution’s budget. PR professionals are occasionally labeled as notorious, fluffy spin doctors, while marketers are sometimes viewed as robotic money grabbers.

Let’s get one thing sorted: neither field is more invested in the overall success of a company or client, and neither field is more apt at promoting high-level business achievement than the other. The millennial generation and the digital age are focused heavily on integration and generalism. Thus, each discipline brings valuable, practical, and creative skills to the table, skills that the other party should certainly take note on.  

What Marketing Can Learn From PR

Patience is a virtue. Marketers are so focused on the end statistics that they sometimes lose sight of the journey to achieving those results. Sales and profit, though the final indicator of a company’s or client’s success, are not singular, independent entities. Brand loyalty, positive perception, and meaningful interpersonal engagement are the building blocks of sales and profit. To get there, a company needs to understand, support, and appreciate its stakeholders- all things that PR professionals are experts in.


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Tactics such as investing in corporate social responsibility, creative event planning, and organic social media capitalization are all public relations tactics that leave a sweet taste in stakeholders’ mouths. Yet, none of these tactics will necessarily pay immediate dividends. Often, the key to driving monetary gain is a combination of patient planning and strategic development, a lesson that many a PR professional has learned and would be happy to pass on.

What PR Can Learn From Marketing

Three words: numbers, numbers, and…numbers. PR professionals are prone to bouts of arithmophobia or at least mathematical disdain. However, in today’s constantly evolving technological age, data and results compiled by new-fangled softwares reign supreme. PR professionals need to strategically develop ways to measure their successes and efforts in order to better communicate their worth to executives, tweak their plans, and evaluate the public’s reaction to a tactic.


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Additionally, PR professionals must harness the true offerings of modern technology. For example, search engine optimization, commonly known as SEO, should be just as important to media relations as targeting journalists with on-brand beats. Finding the prime journalist to pen your story is great, but a beautiful story is meaningless if, for instance, the journalist’s work typically get buried until piles of competing articles as a byproduct of less-than-stellar SEO. Understanding how technology and data can assist public relations practice (or just listening to your resident marketing expert) can potentially improve the industry’s success ten-fold.

The Takeaway

First and foremost, public relations professionals and marketers should take a page out of one another’s books in order to optimize their own success. Secondly, the disciplines should realize the following: Their “opposing” industry knows a great deal about things they do not. Collaboration is worthwhile and appreciation is key. There’s a spot at the dinner table for both marketing and public relations- and they might even be willing to split dessert.


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