What distinguishes public relations from marketing?

Advertising Marketing PR Public Relations

Public relations differs from marketing in many ways, although their functions often overlap mainly because both deal with an organisation’s relationships and use similar communication tools to reach the public.  Both have the ultimate purpose of assuring an organisation’s success and economic survival, but each approach this task from slightly different perspectives.

Public relations is concerned with building relationships and generating goodwill for an organisation whereas marketing is concerned with customers and selling products and services.  Marketing and advertising people tend to speak of “target markets,” “consumers,” and “customers.”  Public relations professionals tend to talk of “publics,” “audiences,” and “stakeholders.”

Public relations is often referred to as the 5th “P” of the marketing mix, in addition to Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  When public relations is used to support directly an organisation’s marketing objectives, it is often called marketing communications, or Marketing Public Relations (MPR).  Other public relations activities that deal with a corporation’s relationships with its non-customer publics is called Corporate Public Relations (CPR).  These non-customer publics include governments, employees, stockholders, communities, etc.

Another difference between public relations and marketing is the purpose of the dialogue with each of their target markets or publics.  Public relations purpose is to create mutual understanding and cooperation through two-way dialogue.  Marketing, however, is intent on being persuasive with the aim of selling products and services.

In my next blog post, I’ll describe a number of ways in which public relations activities contribute to meeting marketing objectives.

Until then, please email me ruth@purplechameleon.com.au if you have any questions.

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