Marketing Versus Public Relations

There was a time when PR was associated with free publicity and marketing with paid advertising. That distinction has blurred since the popularity of the internet, especially social media. On the other hand, it depends upon whom you ask.

For companies selling products or services, marketing, and public relations have the same goal of producing positive returns that result in increased business and profits. That has never changed but social media has drawn the lines closer together in what’s called relationship management. It’s also called relationship marketing.

How so? Paying for an ad on Google would normally be labeled marketing while paying for materials to nurture a potential customer would generally be considered PR. It was kind of a one-two punch. PR set up the potential customer and generated goodwill and interest wile marketing followed up with a deal that the customer couldn’t refuse and acted on.

What Is Relationship Management?

Relationship management aims to draw a consumer deeper into the company’s service and/or product circle with comments, feedback and offers to become more engaged. Once a person likes a product or service on social media, it opens a doorway for the company to connect even more closely by sharing and informing the customer about recent advances, changes, etc. for what they liked. Relationship management then is a hybrid of both marketing and PR.

Different Schools of Thought

Some observers would tell you that social marketing aims for a larger market, while PR concentrates on the existing one. Others would argue that PR today throws out a bigger net to not only appeal to current customers, but also potential ones. That outreach could be enormous. Consider how some GoFundMe stories and sites have become overnight social media sensations and successes. There’s validity in the latter argument. In order to survive and grow, PR has to extend its boundaries. That’s the value and difference of blogs, influencers and other strategies that weren’t popular a decade ago.

As with the evolution of so many other things, it’s time for marketing and PR to unite.

Combine Both For Success

Should marketing and PR be separate? To achieve maximum success today, both should be located within the same department so they can coordinate and collaborate. They should be supervised by the same person.

By working more closely together, marketers and PR folks not only learn to collaborate but also discover more about each other’s arenas which enables them to become even more effective and successful. Providing meaningful content as well as exceptional information to customers and potential ones will only serve to generate more leads but also a much-appreciated increase in sales

If your organization has separate marketing and PR departments, now is the time to bring the two together. Before doing so, consider holding a retreat or half-day interdepartmental staff meeting at which you lay out the challenge of how to best manage relationship management. Not using the other name keeps it neutral.

Discuss the values of relationship management and challenge any ideas that management of it should rest in one department. You may be surprised by the results.

A word of caution: you may detect some resistance because one or both department managers may feel that a merger will eliminate a position. Be prepared with an appropriate and meaningful response.