Marketing versus Public Relations

2020/03/16 10:43:41 PM Author | Jennilee Peremore-Oliver

In South Africa, we seem to think that Marketing and Public Relations are two interchangeable functions. It’s not. You can tell a lot about a person based on which profession they identify with most. It can be easy to spot whether someone is a Marketing Professional or Public Relations Professional - simply watch their approach to issues. 


In this article, I outline some of the key differences between the two functions. Please note that the purpose of this article is not to argue that the one function is better than the other, because they are certainly not. Each of these functions play a crucial role in business and both are needed. However, if you want to be successful in business, whether you’re a CEO or an owner of a startup, you need to know what you need. Thus you must be able to identify whether you have a problem that can be solved by marketing or through public relations or both.

1. The Look versus the Feel

In marketing, the main concern is how something looks; the perception created to a target audience based on the aesthetics, the vanity. Marketing professionals are known to ask, “how does this look or how will this look to our target audience.” They are concerned with the tastes of their audiences, the aesthetics of the room. The public relations professional cares about the feel; how the audience feels once they enter and leave the room; “will they feel valued, appreciated, connected, inspired.” PR professionals have the desired feeling in mind and work towards realising that feeling for the audience.


2. Quantitative versus Qualitative data

Marketing professionals want statistics. They want to know where their audience lives, what they drive, what they studied, how much they earn, how much they buy and where they buy. PR professionals care about the qualitative data; why does the audience buy what they buy, what motivates their purchases, why do they work as hard as they do, what do they value and what are their dreams.” 


3. The ROI versus Impact

Marketers want to know how much they received in return for what they invested; it’s all about the Rand and cents. It must be quantified. There is no value unless it can be quantified. For PR professionals, there is more value and meaning in making an impact and in creating memories. Often that impact cannot be quantified in Rand and cents. It’s sometimes as simple as a comment on a feedback form, a share/like/comment on social media, a handwritten note or thank you gift from a customer, a special favour received from a client to say ‘thank you’ for the last time you helped them. Often this impact can’t be quantified, but the value is immeasurable, memorable and therefore, lasting.


Final thoughts

These are some of the key differences I have identified, because I wear two hats, both a marketing and public relations every day. I love the value that both these professions bring to the business world and I find it fascinating what these two functions can achieve when they work together to help a team achieve its goals.

What are some of the key differences you have identified between marketing and public relations?