Industry Conversations: Are Marketing and PR Two Different Things?

The line between public relations and marketing is often blurred. For example, the debate over whether social media is a PR or a marketing tool has been ongoing over the years. What about content marketing? Content marketing infuses both aspects of public relations and traditional marketing. The truth is marketing and PR will in most cases merge, and more so as the two fields develop with technology.

So how are they different?

The objective:

Marketing is defined as “the management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer,” (Business Directory). PR on the other hand, seeks to manage the reputation and perception of an organisation. The objective of marketing revolves around selling a product, while PR is about selling a brand to the public through the management of their communication channels.

The Audience

Marketing seeks to draw in potential customers and convince them to buy certain services or goods. A marketing team will push their product to a target audience made up of people who are most likely to buy the goods or service. PR doesn’t adopt the same targeted approach; PR is all about maintaining good relationships with anyone who may be interested in the brand or ogranisation (also known as their publics). This includes media, clients, investors, employees (hence the name public relations).


PR delivers its message through channels such as: press releases, articles in the media, speaker events and others. Marketers on the other hand, will traditionally pay to place adverts in the media – both digital and traditional. The impact of the message is more measurable with marketing – i.e it’s easier to see how my goods have been sold since the marketing campaign was introduced, compared to measuring how positive the general public feels toward a certain brand. That does not mean that PR is of less value; positive brand perception drives sales and helps organisations retain their customers.


While both marketing and PR are essential for organisations to boost awareness, credibility and sales, it’s important to outline your business objectives first and then seek the tools that will help you meet your objectives.