If you could jump back to the year 2005 and ask a professional the difference between PR and marketing, most would probably be able to provide a good answer. In fact, a particularly eloquent pro from that era might explain: Marketing relates to advertising and the subsequent promotion of products, whilePR is concerned with company image and brand advancement. Now though, it’s much trickier to draw the line in the public relations versus marketing debate. Indeed, many marketing agencies have already begun to serve as de-facto PR firms for their clients. Today then, we’ll focus on what traditionally has separated PR from marketing and determine whether or not those old-school definitions still carry weight. 

Public Relations & Marketing Historical Roles

In essence, the classic role of a PR team is to make a business look good. Yes, that involves making a company seem appealing to customers, but that’s done in a roundabout way. Rather than interacting directly with consumers, PR firms typically deal with press outlets or shareholders. PR pros were influencers, and when they wrote a press release or crafted an article, it was done with the intention of boosting a company’s standing.

To contrast, old-school marketing was basically relegated to promotional content like advertisements, or newsletters. The goal was much simpler. Make customers aware of “product x” and give them a reason to buy it.

Marketing with PR in Mind

As you may have already gathered, the traditional lines that have separated PR and marketing departments have blurred recently. There are several reasons why. The first is –– unsurprisingly –– the rise of the internet and social media. Given these new platforms, marketers have found new “organic” ways to spread their message. In addition, the way consumers interact with businesses has changed dramatically in the previous twenty years. Consumers in the past may have valued special features or price more when making a purchase decision, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that millennial shoppers will choose to purchase (or forgo) a product based on how it makes them feel, or how relevant it is to them. In other words, how well they connect with a particular brand at a specific moment.

This is where things get a little messy because many modern marketing techniques resemble public-relations strategies. For instance, the whole concept of content marketing is to build trust with consumers by providing informational –– not promotional –– resources like blogs, pillar pages, or content offers. Because so much marketing material now relates to offering DIY solutions or answering common questions, the “promotional” aspect of digital marketing has shifted to advertising.

The Bottom Line

As a general rule, the smaller your business is, the more your marketing efforts will also overlap with traditional PR tactics. And modern marketing does involve increasing a company’s brand’s visibility and reach through the various methods of search engine optimization. If you’re looking to start marketing more effectively, then contact the Agile & Co. team today. We have the experience and the resources to help you reach your goals. Plus, to get an in-depth look at our unique inbound marketing approach, check out our free eBook here:

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