With the sustained rise in social media use and increasing sophistication of PR analytics tools, the once clear-cut lines between PR and marketing are blurring. As we embrace more of what our digital world has to offer, PR and marketing are becoming more intertwined, with success of one relying heavily on the activities of the other.
PR – to make matters more confusing, the definition of ‘PR’ is long-debated. However, many are centred around its role in relationship building, reputation management and communicating key brand messages.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) defines PR as:
“The result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.
“The discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
Marketing – many definitions of marketing centre around its focus on product/service promotion and advertising activities.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines marketing as:
“The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”
Judging return on investment (ROI)
For a long period of time, it was much easier to prove ROI for marketing than it was for PR, as various paid promotional slots would yield click-through reports and engagement statistics. However, with the growing sophistication of PR analytics tools, including Google Analytics and social media analytics, the impact of PR is becoming increasingly easier to demonstrate.
However, where PR activity is campaigning for a change in attitudes or behaviours, a more long-term evaluation approach, comprising focus groups, surveys or other qualitative research methods may be appropriate.
In truth, neither PR nor marketing exists in isolation. You won’t find successful marketing campaigns without a little PR activity, and you won’t find successful PR campaigns without a little marketing activity. Think of social media for example, an activity which can sit comfortably in both PR and marketing and habitually includes elements of both.
The end goals are also intertwined – PR and marketing needs to work in synchronicity for either to be successful. They are not the same thing, but they do work closely together and benefit from the learnings of one another.
Focus shouldn’t be about drawing distinctions between one and the other, it should be about understanding how the two work together and the benefits they can bring to your business.