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Our no-nonsense explanation of PR and marketing

October 2 2018

Picture showing a network of PR and marketing icons

Put 10 public relations (PR) and marketing experts in a room together, ask them to agree on a single and simple definition of what they do and they will probably sit there until next Christmas, if not the one after. So you’re forgiven for not being 100% clear yourself.

While the principles of both are as old as humanity itself and we’re all exposed to the effects of PR and marketing every day, if you’ve never had to directly deal with either, there’s really no reason why you should understand them.

This is especially true when you consider the amount of mumbo jumbo buzzwords flying around, on top of a gazillion different theories supposedly boiling the complexities of human nature and decision-making down to simple PR and marketing principles.

Here is our take on PR and marketing

PR is anything and everything to do with an organisation’s public image and reputation, quite literally the relationship you have with the public, including existing and potential customers and supporters.

It involves working with the media so much because that is one of the best ways of showing people who you are and why they should trust you, and either shop with you or support you. For example, when you see someone from an organisation regularly feature in the news as an expert on a topic, it gives you more confidence in the brand they represent.

On the other hand, when things go wrong and public confidence is shaken, it’s your PR that will manage and resolve the situation.

Marketing is how you reach your target audience and motivate them to do something, like buying from you or donating to your cause, and keeping them as a loyal customer or supporter.

It’s more of your nuts and bolts-type activities – how you build and maintain your website, how you keep track of what people are doing when they look at your information, how you get and use people’s contact details, reaching people with advertising, and creating interesting content that people want to share.

It’s getting all your ducks in a row in front of the right people – the right product, in the right place, at the right price and promoted in the right way.

How do PR and marketing work together?

There is a lot of overlap between the two, which can be confusing even when you work in the industry. In some organisations social media might be taken care of by a marketing team, in another it could be the PR team; in a third there might be an entirely separate team just dealing with social media.

When you have different teams involved in PR and marketing, it’s crucial that they can work together seamlessly, or else there will be all sorts of problems keeping things like messaging consistent and wasting resources.

Essentially all their efforts focus on affecting one thing – how people react to the information you make public.

By Hannah Upton

Next steps

Read more about why you should be thinking about PR and marketing for your own organisation.

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