As a public relations and communications company we often get asked by clients and contacts what the difference is between public relations and marketing? They want to know what the key difference is and where to invest their money. After over thirty years in the industry I have an innate understanding of the difference and having to explain it to someone seeking clarification makes me really stop and think.
In the most simple terms marketing is all about sales and customers. It’s about getting that product flying off the virtual or real shelf. PR or communications is about developing, expanding and solidifying your brand and your relationships. It’s about developing a deep understanding among all your stakeholders and forming strong allegiances and loyalty. It’s about using a range of channels – news media, social media, in house channels – to tell your story.
In public relations, of course we include customers/purchasers in our mix but we go a lot wider than just that one segment. We look at suppliers, staff, central and local government relationships, next door neighbours and a whole host of other connections. Then we develop strategies that enable you to engage effectively, influence and share your story with each these groups and sub groups in the most appropriate way.
When you pay for placement of a marketing ad in any forum, you can manage every single aspect of the content and placement. With public relations you won’t have that luxury. As a practitioner we work hard to make sure that your story is told accurately and well but there’s no guarantees. That’s why it is so important to plan well and prepare for all outcomes. That’s where we really hit our straps!
Public Relations is a long game. It’s not about an instant sale or instant management of a reputation. It’s about laying sound foundations and building on them with every decision you make and turn you take. Public relations is not about paying for an outcome its about investing in your reputation. That takes time and commitment and that’s why we have very long and enduring relationships with our clients. For most of our clients we are part of the core team and that’s just how we like it!