Understanding the differences between Marketing and PR: why both matter for your business

To some, it may seem like marketing and public relations (PR) are interchangeable terms for the same kind of work. While marketing and PR may have similar goals, objectives and even tactics, there are key differences.  Put simply, marketing is focused on selling your products or services to your target audience. PR, on the other hand, is focused on creating a positive impression around a company, brand, or individual. Despite their differences, marketing and PR work together to communicate with your target audience and build awareness of your brand. Both areas serve equally important roles within your business. In this blog, we’ll explore the role the differences between marketing and PR, the role of each in your business and why integrating these areas is important for your business’s long-term success. 

Marketing vs. Public Relations: Understanding the differences

First things first, let’s explore the differences by considering the definitions of both marketing and PR and breaking them down further.


Marketing supports your business’s goals by advertising, promoting, and selling products or services to your business’s target audience. Your marketing team or agency should focus on reaching your customers and moving them along a funnel, or series of actions to reach a sale. 

While there are a lot of different types of marketing out there these days, here are several identified by Hubspot that have stood the test of time: 

  • Internet marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Blogging
  • Social media marketing
  • Print marketing
  • Search engine marketing
  • Video marketing

Marketers are responsible for getting eyes on your business. It is also highly strategic in nature. A good marketer puts time and effort into researching which methods are most appropriate for their target audience. 

On any given day, a marketer might create campaigns to promote your product or service or develop strategic plans to reach more customers. They may utilize more traditional forms of media by purchasing advertising slots on TV, radio, or billboards. They might work on digital marketing initiatives, such as landing page creation or Facebook ad campaigns. All these efforts and tasks contribute to effectively building awareness about the company’s products and services, which results in sales and conversions. 

Marketing success is often measured by revenue. If your marketing efforts are contributing to your company’s bottom line, it’s usually a sign that you’re on the right track.

Public Relations 

Public relations involves building mutually beneficial relationships between your company and the public. This may involve tasks such as:

  • Managing company messaging
  • Creating press releases
  • Pitching media contacts and securing press coverage
  • Identifying public speaking opportunities
  • Building a communications strategy or crisis management plan

A PR professional or agency’s role is to ensure that the company is sharing meaningful and accurate information. Your messaging should be disseminated to stakeholders in a way that supports the goals of the business. 

Daily tasks for a PR professional might include writing press release for a new product launch to garner organic media attention. They might pitch positive stories to the media about company initiatives or secure a speaking position for a company executive at an industry event. Their role also includes monitoring public sentiment and responding to consumers and fans to build stronger relationships. They may be proactively making crisis plans for potential issues that may come up in the future. 

On a bad day, they are actively managing crises within the company. This might involve organizing the press and ensuring that everyone is receiving truthful and accurate information from the company. Regardless of whether a crisis is involved or not, all PR tasks should contribute to relationship building and managing the company’s reputation. 

PR professionals often measure the impact of their efforts through the amount of press or coverage generated around the company’s brand. They might measure brand sentiment or “buzz” generated from social media, influencers, bloggers and the public as a whole.

Key differences between marketing and PR

Put simply, the difference between marketing and PR is that marketing is focused on getting customers’ attention, while PR is about creating a conversation around your company and brand. Marketing aims to deliver standalone value for prospects and consumers through content, while PR is about making sure that value is being delivered in a way that creates meaningful relationships with your brand.

Another one of the key differences between marketing and PR is that PR usually takes a long-term approach. While marketing is about driving sales in the here and now, PR is focused on the longevity of the company’s brand. This is done by maintaining a positive reputation for the company overall. 

Here are a few other key differences to note:

  • Marketing’s target audience is current or potential customers.
  • PR focuses on all stakeholders, media and the larger public.
  • Marketing’s “superpower” is their ability to sell through powerful advertising and other forms of direct marketing.
  • PR’s “superpower” is the ability to change minds through messaging. Brand messages carry more weight when they’re received through PR channels such as the media, influencers or bloggers who carry a high level of credibility with their audience.
  • Marketing teams tend to work more closely with sales teams.
  • PR teams tend to work to support the overall company and brand messaging.

Overall, marketing and PR work together to help you achieve your business goals by tackling different objectives, strategies, and tactics. In today’s digital world, both must work collaboratively to amplify your brand’s messages and content across various channels. In the next section, we dive into how you can marry these two areas in order to better reach your business goals.

Why aligning your marketing and PR efforts is the most successful approach for your business

In the digital age, the companies and brands that succeed are the ones who recognize the value of integrating marketing and PR. When these two disciplines collaborate, you are more likely to get your brand seen and heard.

There is a lot of noise in the marketing space. New and innovative brands are emerging all the time. It can be easy to get lost in a sea of content, ads and messages that consumers are bombarded with nowadays. The brands that outlast the others and become legends know that marketing can only take you so far. There needs to be something deeper that connects customers to your brand. This is where PR comes in. Customers resonate with companies that have a clear purpose, vision, and message. Your PR and marketing should work together to get this message out into the world.

Take Nike’s messaging for example: “Our mission is what drives us to do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations.” Now imagine you saw a Facebook ad with another, lesser-known sneaker brand. You’d be more inclined to buy Nike’s products because their message resonates with you rather than a brand you’ve never heard of. It doesn’t matter how great the product is if they don’t have effective messaging.

When it comes to messaging, consistency is key. While your brand voice might change depending on the medium or platform, your brand story should remain consistent. Why do you do what you do? PR professionals can help to answer this question in a compelling way and ensure that your messaging is streamlined across various marketing platforms. 

Aligning marketing and PR is also important when it comes to amplifying your content. These days, brands invest a ton of time and money into content creation, from graphic design to videography and blogs. Effective PR can amplify your content and increase the reach, engagement, and influence that it has on your audience.


Despite their differences, marketing and PR both have an essential purpose within your business. It is important that you have the right people in place to increase your business’s efficiency and success. In the case of smaller businesses, these roles may both be performed by the same department or even the same person. They can also be contracted out to an agency who specializes in these areas. 

The Fifth Chair partners with experienced marketing and PR professionals to provide the services you need to reach your goals. Contact us today for a free consult on how you can take your marketing and PR efforts to the next level and get results today.