Marketing vs Public Relations – What’s The Difference?

6 Mins Read

Marketing vs Public Relations – What’s The Difference?

So you are about to launch a new product, and thinking of getting a communications agency to help you achieve maximum exposure for it. Would you engage the agency to do a marketing outreach, or would a Public Relations (PR) drive be a better option?

“Wait!”(we can hear you think). “Aren’t they the same? I need PR to increase my product sales!”

Actually, marketing and public relations are vastly different, and address different objectives. The main difference between the two is that marketing is focused on promoting a product or service, and concentrated efforts to increase sales. PR, on the other hand, is about disseminating information about your marketing efforts as well as maintaining a positive image and reputation for your company. In other words, PR takes your marketing initiatives and amplifies these as information to the public.

Although they are two separate areas of specialisation, they are often confused as the same. We list the differences between the two in this article, which will help you craft a more effective PR and/or marketing strategy in the long run.

What is marketing?

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First, let’s break down the differences between marketing and PR.

Marketing includes everything from advertising to selling and delivering products to your audience or other businesses. This set of actions are targeted at potential and existing customers to help drive sales through the funnel and convert shoppers into buyers.

Examples of marketing include:

  • Blogs that promote a product or service
  • Promotional activities to drive sales
  • Sending product samples to media, influencers and celebrities for them to create hype or promotional videos with the intent to encourage sales
  • Crafting an ad campaign for a new release
  • Creating social media activities linked to your service or product.


What is Public Relations?

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Unlike marketing, PR focuses more on building and maintaining positive relationships between the company and its closest environments. This includes communicating important company news, reinforcing brand identity, conducting crisis management and pushing out company news. Though it focuses on improving brand image rather than increasing sales, a PR approach can also lead to increased sales over time because it builds brand awareness and top of the mind recall via media exposure.

Some examples of PR include:

  • Interviews conducted by local media outlets
  • Press conferences, especially during times of crisis
  • Developing and maintaining a strong media presence
  • Crafting and distributing press releases
  • Building meaningful relationships with key players in the industry, media and influencers.

What do PR and marketing have in common?

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Though both have different goals and objectives, their common approach explains why so many people group them together. Both want to deliver positive and effective brand messaging. Furthermore, they use similar techniques to get their message across. This includes things like testimonials, blogs, videos, podcasts and more.

Now that we’ve established their similarities, let’s get down to what’s important – their differences.

So, what’s the difference?


Marketing is focused on creating more short-term goals such as generating sales and satisfying the needs of customers. Most marketing strategies focus on the here and now to improve performance and hit goals.

On the other hand, PR is a long-term strategy that mostly pays off after some time. It is not intended to address needs and serves primarily to build a positive image of the business and its activities. In some sense, you could say that PR requires more patience than marketing


One of the most important differences between PR and marketing would be their target audience. It is necessary for both functions to establish a right target audience by analysing behaviour and their problems. This will help businesses more accurately target communications and personalise them to get better results.

For PR, it looks at all stakeholders, including the media and public at large, regardless of which industry your company is in. On the other hand, marketing focuses on the customer who is making the purchasing decision.


Marketing involves going around the market, which includes conducting market research, planning, budgeting and lead management. The data is then collected to make decisions that will influence advertising and promotion efforts, which in turn leads to direct sales. 

On the other hand, PR refers to activities a company conducts towards its environment, both outside and within the organisation. These actions are crucial for the company to align their activities with stakeholder expectations.


The methods that PR professionals and marketers use to measure success often overlap. For PR, key success metrics include things like brand mentions, brand impact, media coverage, share of voice (SOV), sales department response time, and social media reach and engagement.

There are usually more marketing metrics for marketing, given that marketers need to analyse a lot more than PR managers. Marketers focus more on quantitative, than qualitative data. Other than the above mentioned, marketing analysis also covers website metrics, content marketing and SEO metrics, sales and revenue metrics as well as email marketing metrics.

How do I use PR and marketing in my business?

Source: Unsplash

If your problem is a lack of communication with the media, poor recognition in the industry or other problems with brand image, you should look for PR. Brand image should always be taken care of before pushing out marketing strategies, and vice versa. On the flip side, if your goal is to increase sales, conduct market research or promote your new product, you should engage a marketer.

And that’s it! If you’re still not sure what really works for your business drop us an email below – we’ll be happy to share more with you over coffee.

Sheann is a Content Writer at Superminted who shares her love for pop culture and content creation through the messages she crafts. She believes in the power of words to convince and inspire. 


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, marketing, marketing terms, pr, Public Relations, sme business

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