Marketing and PR: Not ready to make nice?

After reading an insightful post on Gary Schlee’s blog about the increasingly cozy relationship between marketing and PR, I decided to post a comment. Read the post then come back and follow along below:

I believe the differences between PR and marketing are largely artificial. That is to say, PR is a specific aspect of marketing that deals with certain kinds of audiences and certain kinds of buyers.

Perhaps marketing departments offer less pretensions about their fiduciary relationship to the overall goals of the company. I think it obfuscates the issue to say that marketing is about selling and buyers while PR is about relationships and audiences. What kind of relationships are we building? Why are we trying to reach these audiences? We’re selling to media or the community or those audiences which evaluate the reputation of our organization before buying our product, engaging in our service or voting for our legislation. Yes, PR can be specialized in practice and it is certainly specialized in skill. But to proscribe the marketing function of PR and try to separate communications as being loftier in intention than marketing is an argument that will ultimately fail in the jostle for corporate dollars.

Instead, the increased integration of all aspects of the marketing mix should lead the public relations industry to study from other marketing streams. Can we measure results like marketing? Can we build a strong brand like advertising?

The maturation of public relations should not automatically assume that the practice will become more independent — it probably won’t. Our best bet is to continue to advocate the strengths of PR campaigns as cost-effective and credible ways to further the marketing and corporate goals of those we represent.



  1. […] Marketing and PR: Not Ready to Make Nice? – Stractical – File this under ridiculous. Those who still don’t understand the difference between marketing and PR hardly merit a mention. This is just another example of the narrow understanding some folks really have about the PR field and what it entails. Is it important to understand marketing if you’re in PR and vice versa? Sure. You can’t know what your job is if you don’t know what your job isn’t (and for the record, most of my work involves integrating both to some degree – that doesn’t make them the same thing, and it doesn’t mean all strategies are working toward the same end marketing goal as suggested here). – “PR is a specific aspect of marketing that deals with certain kinds of audiences and certain kinds of buyers.” […]

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I think those folks’ definition of PR is more fluid than narrow. Activities like event management or social media outreach get brought under the PR umbrella when PR people prove to be the most competent people to run them. Like I said, PR/media relations certainly involves specific skills that probably preclude and generally baffle marketers from participating, but that doesn’t mean the end goal has anything less to do with selling products and services and extending brands. The integration approach is asking all these marketing mix branches to work together. This is why ad shops are opening PR practices, why PR firms are starting digital shops, and why corporate executives are demanding the communications team bring them fancy charts and graphs like the marketing group does. And who doesn’t love a good pie chart?

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