While people often confuse public relations with marketing, they are two very different disciplines with completely different approaches. That being said, they do share some similarities. While marketing campaigns focus solely on the promotion of products or services with the end goal being a purchase or enquiry, public relation campaigns are aimed at communicating a message to the public and increasing brand awareness via media outlets such as newspapers and websites. Many people think it’s a case of having to choose one or the other, but both disciplines have their own benefits and can be very successful when used hand in hand.
What is PR? Every business or organisation, regardless of its size, depends on its reputation for success and survival. As it’s the media that determines most people’s perception of businesses and organisations, it’s vital that they are portrayed positively in any media exposure that they gain. There is an old saying that any PR is good PR, this isn’t always true and reputation is still an integral part of a businesses success. Positive PR is without a doubt the best PR! For example, a business holds a charity fundraiser, they send information and a few photos to the local media, the story gets published and they gain media exposure and trust in return. In short, PR is the art of positively exposing your business in the media and generating awareness or sales as a result of it.
What is marketing? Marketing has been traditionally associated with sales driven campaigns where return on investment is based on the amount of sales that the campaign generates. In today’s modern era of marketing, sometimes public relations is included as part of a wider overall strategy. Marketing is essentially about communicating your message to your target audience in way that makes them want to use your services or buy your products. Even though the benefits of marketing remain the same, the methods in which it’s practiced have changed dramatically in recent years. A lot of this is down to the astronomical growth of online marketing. With more and more people using the internet to buy products and read reviews about products, it seems like the most obvious channel for exposing products or services to a target audience.
What provides the best return on investment, a marketing campaign or a PR campaign? This all depends on what you class as a good return. If you have a new product that you would like to get to market, marketing would probably be the better option. If your goal is to increase brand awareness and develop trust among your target audience, then a PR campaign would be more suitable. PR is more cost effective and doesn’t have immediate effects, but when it’s properly executed it can offer long term benefits such as trust and a glowing reputation. If a PR campaign is executed correctly, the exposure it can generate is extraordinary.
Take KFC for example, as part of their PR campaign they made the world’s biggest logo just miles from Area 51. The logo was snapped by Google’s satellite and as a result received over 600 million impressions. That’s a prime example of how PR can be used. That being said, both PR and marketing can provide great results, it’s just a case of knowing what you want to achieve from a campaign and the type of interest you want to generate, then you can make a more educated decision. In short, marketing and PR should never be used against each other, instead they should be used alongside one another to yield the best results.
This article was contributed by David at Quadrant PR.