When it comes to marketing and public relations, there are common misconceptions that one can accomplish the goals of both, or that one needs to be chosen or is better than the other. In our experience, there are key differences in audience, tactics and goals, but also great opportunities when the two can work together, especially digitally.
There are three key areas to consider when differentiating between marketing and PR:
Audience. PR tends to have a larger audience to serve, beyond potential customers. PR teams prioritize strategic messaging for positioning, communicating with media contacts, and key community stakeholders by leveraging developed relationships. Marketers focus more on potential customers and building personas to segment, target, and acquire.
Tactics. PR tactics often include building relationships with media and influencers, pitching stories, writing press releases and talking points, securing opportunities for awards, speaking engagements, and community events. While there is some overlap when it comes to message creation, marketing tactics are more product-, research-, and conversion-driven, influenced mostly by measured data. A marketer’s tactics may include improving the website user experience, content creation, email automation, social media marketing, paid media efforts, and constant measurement and optimizations.
Goals & Metrics. Reputation management and brand awareness are top goals of PR strategies – keeping a positive company image and letting the communities you serve know who you are through earned media and community exposure. This is usually measured by reach, impressions, and increases in community perception and net promoter score. Marketing tends to be a little more in the trenches with potential customers with the main goal of conversion. Conversions are typically measured by quantity and quality of leads, cost per lead, and are closely tied to sales.
When it comes to building a digital presence, SEO and content marketing continue to be priorities in the digital foundation. While it’s in a digital marketer’s toolkit to handle technical SEO items and create content to increase site traffic, strategic positioning and influencer content distribution remain a challenge as it takes many of the skills of an experienced PR professional. The more digital marketers and PR teams can work together, the greater the opportunity for high-level messaging, optimum distribution, and awareness for businesses.
As a digital marketing leader, we enjoy teaming up with public relations teams. It could be a client’s chosen agency or a relationship we bring to the table. There are so many ways we digital marketers can leverage our public relations compadres.
Words & Data Meet. PR professionals are really good at strategic communications – what are the best messaging points to represent the company at different stages of growth and changes in public perceptions? We take those points and layer in research to see if any of that messaging resonates more than others from search, site analytics, and content trends. We can test the messaging options with low-budget campaigns and share these findings with the client’s hired agencies.
Credible Content. PR professionals create awesome content for digital marketers like us to curate, share and drive site traffic. A solid media hit gives us content on the site for credible links and added credibility on social, with ‘as seen in’ media graphics. Our additional distribution amplifies the media’s coverage for higher reach.
Insurance & Opportunity. Digital marketers share social trends and efficient brand listening with our PR counterparts/colleagues to align and shift positioning to meet market chatter and leverage timely media pitches.
Reputation management. When PR and digital marketing join forces with strategic site content, we can oftentimes push down negative media hits driving first-page search results on more controlled, positive content. Layer in continuous social and web-brand listening and a company’s proactive response can easily get in front of any negative talk and enhance or reward the positive brand-sharing.
While PR teams and marketers don’t have the same day-to-day tactics and goals, the more the two can align and support one another's higher purpose, the better for the overall strategy of the business. Get in touch to discuss more how marketing and PR can work together for your business.