Blurred Lines? Public Relations and Marketing Mix It Up

recently had a conversation about public relations with a potential new client who said his PR was handled by his marketing company since they know about “all that stuff.” This is a confusing point for many business owners these days. PR people, like their marketing counterparts, are quick to jump onto the “we do all that” bandwagon just to earn business.

Ideally, the disciplines should work together as part of an integrated program. But that’s where the lines can get fuzzy. Many PR and marketing people would rather grab onto buzzwords like “branding” your business and impacting WOM (word of mouth), and “earned” versus “paid” media messages … it’s enough to make your head spin!

Here’s two standard definitions:

  • Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large (American Marketing Association July 2013).
  • Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics (Public Relations Society of America 2012).

Blurred lines indeed.

A few tips when considering marketing and/or public relations help:

  • Do look for a professional in these fields. Membership in local or national marketing or public relations organizations will tell you the individual or firm is serious about ethics and maintains industry standards.
  • Don’t assume that a marketing firm can provide you with actual public relations. They may have someone on staff who will write and mass distribute a press release for you but there’s so much more an effective PR campaign can do for your business.
  • Don’t allow your sales staff to control your social media presence. Not even your biggest fan wants to receive sales-driven information exclusively. They want to be engaged with your company, have interaction, and not just be on the receiving end.
  • Do spend the time to find public relations support that can serve your business by helping you build relationships through communication.

A true public relations effort should help increase awareness and build a solid company reputation. If your company’s reputation (or brand) is viewed favorably then customers and potential customers are more likely to use your services. By identifying key relationships and providing solid two-way communication, public relations will only enhance your marketing effort.

No blurriness there — just completely clear.