Difference between marketing and public relations (PR)

A number of years I was in a meeting and the client said, “what we need is more PR.”  Well, I said, that’s what we do.  He then went on to talk about how a billboard at a certain intersection would be great.

“But I thought you said PR,” I said. “Yea, he responded. PR.  Getting the word out.”

Our firm does billboards, advertising, social media, direct mail and PR.  But to us, PR means public relations and to most PR firms PR means publicity — getting articles in newspapers, on the internet and on TV.  That’s the typical way PR is thought of.  But to him PR meant anything to get exposure, even if they paid for it.

Words matter, as they say, and they certainly matter in the business world.  That’s why it is so important to be clear what you are asking for.  Everybody wants positive publicity, but as the world changes, that is harder to come by.  So we look to other means like paid marketing.

Paid marketing could be display ads in media, internet marketing, and yes, billboards.

So ever since that meeting long ago, we make sure that we and our clients are on the same page when we talk about their needs.  We can — and do — handle it all, but we don’t want to try to pitch stories when the client really wants a street banner.

Marketing and PR is all about communication.  And clear communication starts in a strategy meeting with the client.