PR vs Marketing: What really is the difference?

15, Mar 2018
PR Vs Marketing: What's the difference

As a fully serviced communications agency we offer services in both PR and marketing, but two questions we hear so often is “what actually is PR?” and “do I really need it?”. Nowadays people find it hard to distinguish the difference in PR and Marketing with the growth of social media which has blurred the boundaries between them. Despite this confusion there are two different concepts, so we’ve pulled together some fundamentals so the next time someone asks you “what actually is PR” you’ll be able to answer!

Back to basics

Public Relations, or more commonly known as PR, falls under the general marketing umbrella, as does branding, messaging, online presence, content, social media, advertising and market research…you name it, these all come together to build a wider marketing strategy.

PR is a communications function focused on creating awareness of your business.  It encourages people to think and speak positively about your company. This type of exposure helps to improve the overall reputation which plays a huge part in gaining trust of potential new customers. It involves managing information including news, articles and social media between the brand, public and media.

Marketing on the other hand is focused on selling a specific product or service. A direct approach is used by marketers as they use market analysis to target a specific audience unlike PR which can reach a more varied audience.

Day to day

Day to day you’ll find a PR assistant writing a press release about an upcoming launch or event, pitching positive stories about a brands’ successes to the media, managing and updating company messaging or hosting an event for bloggers and media.

On that same day a marketing assistant could be planning campaigns to target customers at key times during the year, creating weekly newsletters, conducting market and competitor research to shape campaigns or analysing website data to optimise SEO.


Changing a PR plan is easier than amending a marketing tactic which is centred around brands overall strategy. PR is also more reactive than marketing- if you pick up on a news story that relates to your industry or brand, you can get issue a press release containing a news worthy story to increase your brand awareness.


Both PR and marketing costs can be altered to the size of your business and your budgets. There is a view that PR is just ‘free advertising’ but neither PR or marketing is free. For both you must factor in the cost of the employee or agency to execute both.

Generally, most of coverage secured through PR is free, but it isn’t guaranteed to feature like paid for advertising. However, if you have a news worthy story that will interest the captive audience of the publication you have a good chance of being published. Another part of this is building great relationships with journalists so you have direct contacts to pitch press releases too.

Advertising can be costly but taking advantage of owned-media such as; social media sites, blogs, newsletters and websites can keep costs down and have a big impact on return of investment. Budgets can quickly disappear when paying for advertising, so a few strategically placed adverts with a captive audience and issuing press releases may be the best route for your business.

So which should I pick?

The truth is PR and Marketing are at their best when used together! Instead of VS each other they should play on the same team to build a more successful business strategy. This is why here at Brand Mission, we offer an integrated communications approach to reach a bigger audience across multiple channels. If you’re ready for a new approach to your PR and marketing, get in contact for a chat to see how we can help you!

By Heather Murphy
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