Marketing and Public Relations are often lumped into one. Although the two industries work best when used cohesively, it is important to know their differences. Learning the values and strengths of marketing and PR separately is the best way to start using them for your business effectively. Both are essential for the success of a company. 

Let’s start with the traditional definitions of marketing and PR:

According to the Oxford Dictionary, marketing is defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

Whereas, public relations is defined as “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.”

These definitions just brush the surface of what each industry does. I mean, can you define any profession in one sentence? Probably not. At the core, marketing supports selling a particular product or service, whereas PR is used to create a positive image for the overall brand. 

Let’s examine what kind of tasks each area specializes in.

Marketing-Related Tasks

A lot of other functions can fall within marketing, including public relations. However, there are plenty of specific projects and duties that are unique to marketing professionals. 

  • Building Campaigns. Building successful campaigns for a company’s product or service is one of the most important tasks for a marketer. This is essential to promote, educate, and sell products or services to specific targeted consumers and prospects.
  • Research. Part of knowing what drives a business is knowing various elements like company history, target audiences, the effectiveness of past campaigns, and everything in between. Learning and applying this information will be the most helpful piece in being successful in other tasks. This also includes extensive market research to better understand the industry and what role your company wants to play within it.
  • Social Media Management. Social media advertising and posts are a great way to connect with your company’s fans and audience. Each social platform has easy to use tools to produce ads that help you effectively target desired demographics. Regular weekly posts, including past media features, specific landing pages, blog posts, and more, are vital to staying relevant. A marketing team typically designates someone to create a social media calendar, which helps keep social posts consistent.
  • Buying Advertising. Purchasing ad space with Google Ads or any other outlet, be it radio, or print, is a huge component of effective marketing. Doing it successfully will mean low costs and high reward for clients or your company.
  • Creating Content. Writing is a huge component of marketing and used across many channels. Of course, there is short and sweet copy used in ads and on social media. Yet, creating content for newsletters, websites, blog posts, landing pages, and whitepapers requires a bit more heavy lifting and strategy.

PR-Related Tasks

Here are a few tasks that PR professionals find themselves taking charge of. 

  • Managing Company Image. Managing the company image is essentially the definition of public relations. Changing and monitoring a client’s messaging and dialogue during an internal or external crisis is crucial. Making sure the company and its employees are seen positively can make or break a brand.
  • Pitching. New products, services, updates, messaging, branding, etc. must be shared with the public. Creating media targets and writing tailored pitches helps get the information out to reporters, sharing with the world, and creating buzz.
  • Securing Media Meetings. From pitching, comes the opportunities. Securing interviews with top tier publications or scheduling clients to be featured as a speaker at an event are all part of the weekly grind for PR professionals.
  • Building Relationships. PR is all about who you know. As a public relations professional, creating lasting relationships with reporters will help your client secure interviews or coverage. Creating a media list that features everyone you have or will want to reach out to keeps things organized and on-course.
  • Creating Content. Similar to marketing, writing is a huge part of PR. Of course, writing relevant pitches but also press releases, Op-Eds, and briefing sheets for clients in all of their meetings with the press.

When day-to-day expectations change quickly, it can be both exciting and overwhelming. Yet, winning mentions, articles, and interviews make it all worth it. This brings us to the next biggest difference between marketing and PR: how each measures success. 

Success as a Marketer

Measuring success as a marketer is very numbers based. Often teams will look at how their email marketing is stacking up. Is the open-rate consistent or increasing? Are people clicking the CTAs? Are landing pages converting site visitors to leads? How many of those marketing-generated leads are becoming paying customers? It’s also important to look into the ROI from specific marketing campaigns. Identifying how much was spent on marketing and the profit made will determine if the effort was worth it. 

Numbers aside, the qualitative ROI doesn’t lie either. If a particular campaign was a success, it will likely create engagement on social media or increase site visitors. This can lead to more followers, comments, reviews, etc. Never overlook the value of brand awareness

Success as a Public Relations Professional

As a successful public relations specialist, clients or your company will have plenty of interviews with top tier publications. More often than not, these meetings will turn into articles, broadcasts, radio, or podcast features. The effort and more reporters reached out to is a direct correlation to how many “wins” or article mentions you will get. This proactive outreach can also lead to having the client featured as a speaker at an event, which will most likely lead to more press.

There are thousands of awards given every year within most industries, for individuals or companies. Another way to measure success could be getting clients’ nominations or wins for awards. 

Best When Together

Marketing and PR have overlapping qualities. The way different companies create their positions often will have a lot to do with this. There will be some public relations jobs that consult on ideas with the marketing team and vice versa. 

The reality is, each role is important to the other. The campaigns on the marketing side should coincide and be amplified on the PR side. A positive public image will increase sales, and a negative public image will likely decrease them. Both marketing and PR are significant pieces to the puzzle that will make a company thrive. 


For further clarity on how marketing and PR can work together to increase awareness and sales, take a look at this case study of the 14er Gold Award B2B Product/Solution Campaign for OnDeck in Denver. 

Author Bio

Justin founded Cast Influence in 2017 after serving in senior marketing roles in-house for 18 years. He manages strategic operations for the agency, oversees brand positioning, and informs the engagement strategy to enhance clients’ reputation and awareness. He also created and hosts InfluenceNow, a marketing and business strategy program.