Warren Buffet

We are frequently asked what is the difference between marketing and public relations (PR) and the two are often confused.

Whilst they are quite separate disciplines, fulfilling two distinct business functions, the boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred.

PR involves all forms of communication within and from the organisation, whilst marketing focuses on outward messages, mostly for the purpose of selling.

Marketing works on what is known as the four P’s: products, price, place and promotion, with the primary focus often being on advertising. The main purpose of advertising is to sell a product or service, whilst PR aims to raise the profile of an organisation or company, and looks after its reputation.

As distinguished management consultant Peter F. Drucker remarked: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Crucially, PR adds credibility to the marketing strategy by establishing and maintaining a mutual understanding between the company and its customers.

This relationship is important in maintaining a positive reputation and the key is that you must be constantly on the ball, particularly since the rise of social media. As American businessman and politician Warren Buffett puts it: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Whilst in some ways, the two professions are distinct, they are clearly complementary as a strongly positive reputation makes the marketer’s job easier, while marketing activity affects a company’s reputation.

Organisations and companies that have the best communications are those that don’t waste time trying to decide on what’s PR and what’s marketing, but enable the disciplines to complement one another by selecting the most appropriate tool for delivering their objectives.