Marketing & PR: What’s the Difference?

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. — Winston Churchill

If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR.Bill Gates

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. – Oscar Wilde

Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising. – Mark Twain

People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.– Seth Godin

If you don’t like what is being said, then change the conversation.Don Draper in Mad Men

So What’s the Difference Between Marketing and PR?

Basically, marketing focuses on products and services while public relations focuses on relationships. While both marketing and PR are management functions, they have very different roles. Public relations is a staff function that indirectly supports an organization’s goals and objectives. Marketing is a line function that impacts an organization’s bottom line. Formal definitions of each are at the end of this article. public relations, marketing, indiana marketing firm, fort wayne marketingA primary difference between marketing and PR is the target audiences. Marketing targets the desired end-user (customer) of the product or service. PR targets multiple “publics,” which can include media, employees, investors, customers, a particular community and more.

Public relations can build and maintain a positive image and even change how customers perceive a business. News coverage can benefit marketing by spurring sales from the positive perception.

On the other hand, marketing usually doesn’t seek to promote the entire company or improve its image. It focuses on product, promotion, price and the target markets that will potentially buy. You may have heard the terms “paid,” “earned” and “owned” media relative to marketing and public relations programs. Let’s examine:

PAID MEDIAadvertising-targetwithframe

This includes paid advertising: print, broadcast and online. For large companies, it can be the biggest expenditure in the marketing budget.


This includes “assets” that a business owns, such as a website, blog and social media profiles.


indiana pr firm, indiana public relations, fort wayne public relations, start-up public relatiionsEarned media is free and can include articles published through third parties such as bloggers, journalists and other influencers. It also includes the transmission of messages via social media. Earned media is perceived as more credible than paid media because it is an objective third-party endorsement. That upside is also a downside. Media coverage is uncontrolled, meaning PR professionals cannot control the story angle, date of publication or content. PR professionals may use several methods to seek positive media coverage, including pitching unique stories to journalists, engaging journalists on social media, finding opportunities for clients to build credibility (such as public speaking events), managing crises and providing media training. Marketers often gather information on customers through vehicles such as market research, post-purchase outreach and advocacy. PR and marketing can work together to boost the bottom line. Public relations can ensure that customers and prospects already have a positive opinion about a product or service that leads them to take action after encountering owned or paid media.


Public Relations: The business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution; the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved. Marketing: The process or technique of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service; an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer.

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