If we are asked the precise difference, we will be at a loss for words because these two terms have been used too often in each others place. It doesn't help that both these departments are almost always clubbed in most companies. Also, the two activities are interconnected. Maintaining good relations with the public is a very important part of marketing.
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing can be defined as "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".
Thus, it is a combination of all the activities that help increase the sale of products, that includes a combination of one or more things among direct marketing, advertising, branding, public relations, and other promotional activities.
Public relations (PR), on the other hand, is managing the flow of information between the company and the people, thus maintaining favorable relations between the two.
Through PR, the company can keep a tab on the pulse of the market and know the public opinion of its products. It is also considered an investment for the future, as a good PR campaign remains strongly embedded in the minds of people for a longer time.
Marketing vs Public Relations
- The primary function of marketing is product awareness and promotions, while the primary function of public relations involves public perception of the company and brand. One can say that, at times, the inferences gained from a PR campaign form the foundation for the marketing strategies.
- In marketing, the products are promoted. In public relations, the company is promoted. A PR person promotes the name and image of the entire company while a marketer usually looks at how to promote one product or a product line.
- Marketing involves selling the goods. Public relations involves selling the brand. A marketing activity is directed at making the products/services seem more appealing to people. PR activities involve making the company more appealing to people.
- Marketers are trying to see how and at what price goods/services can be sold. PR persons try to gauge public perception and reactions to the product and its sales strategies.
- A marketer can use this valuable information to reposition the product, or stick to the current plan, as required. A PR person senses the market for public reaction of previous marketing attempts and impact of the strategies on the public.
- Marketing is trying to achieve profits. PR is trying to achieve positive reputation. The aim of marketing is to sell the products and achieve profits. PR is like an investment that a company makes for maintaining a positive image in the market, which the company will be able to cash in on in the future as well.
- Marketing is a wider term which includes all the promotional activities that help boost sales, including public relations. Public relations activity is considered to be a part of the entire marketing strategy of a company.
- Marketing is an older, more traditional concept of selling. PR is a relatively new concept which sells goods by creating a positive impression of the product among the people. The public relations concept is a new way to look at positive product positioning.
- Marketing is quite a short-term activity. PR is a long-term activity that bears fruit over a longer period of time. The benefits of a PR program accrue and can be used over an extended period of time.
Thus, we can see that there are many differences between marketing and public relations. But we can say that PR is a subset of marketing, as it helps the sales department of the company decide its strategies wisely.