Why Marketing and PR are different

25 08 2011

This post has been written for the benefit of my family and their constant struggle to explain to others what I do for a living (disclaimer: they are all definitive in their age-old professions of lawyers, pharmacists and engineers, so they find it difficult to understand this ‘new age’ idea). Yes there is a difference between marketing and public relations. A big difference. It’s easy to describe to them what tasks I do in my day, however the difficulty often arises when I’m trying to articulate what it means for a business and its success.

What’s the real difference between marketing and PR?

Basically I’ve tried to explore the key differences between marketing and PR in five analogies – I’d welcome any additions!

  1. Activities / tactics: Marketing generally covers promotional, direct marketing and advertising which seeks to return direct sales; whereas PR is focused on reputation management through generating positive media coverage and stakeholder communication.
  2. Target audiences: Marketing aims to reach current and potential customers, whereas public relations targets any person or company who has an interest in the organisation or brand. This covers a broader audience across customers and media, to employees and shareholders and beyond.
  3. Two separate goals: The goals for marketing teams are to reach consumers and make them think, believe or do some kind of sales focused action. Essentially it is about selling the product or service. Whereas public relations is about selling the company or brand through positively managing the communication channels between a company and its stakeholders. Overall, marketing activities are trying to achieve direct revenue, while PR is trying to drive a positive reputation.
  4. Legitimacy of messages: Messages delivered through PR channels such as articles, conference speakers and reputable bloggers are unconsciously regarded by consumers as more legitimate than those presented through marketing tactics. Generally, people can clearly recognise that advertising and marketing are driven by a company’s desire to increase sales. However articles that have a well-known journalist’s name on them, or presentations by someone classified as an industry expert are more likely to be received by the consumer as a credible source.
  5. Business ROI: Marketing is generally defined as a business investment – paid branding and promotional activities with new customers being the ROI. Whereas PR is classified as free exposure for increasing credibility around a company’s image. It is usually more difficult to measure ROI for PR than it is for marketing, because it’s harder to demonstrate a change in perception or beliefs, as opposed to direct sales.
  6. Longevity: Marketing is a relatively short term activity, whereas PR reaps its benefits over a longer period of time. While marketing seeks to drive instant, tangible sales success, the benefits of a PR program can be viewed as a long term investment that a company would recognise for future achievements.

What about Digital Marketing and Digital PR?

Similar to traditional channels, marketing in the digital space would be those activities which drive an instant action from the consumer, such as search marketing, ads, promotions and eDMs. The concept of Digital PR still remains as a relationship management function, with a strong focus on social media channels. It has been proven that promotional marketing angles through social media can actually have a negative impact on a brand. This has resulted in a strong shift towards social media being categorised under the PR function.

What does this mean for business?

While it’s important for businesses to be able to articulate the differences between the two roles, it doesn’t change the reality that marketing and PR are as reliant on each other as a business is to their combined success. With the introduction of new technologies and the increased acceptance of PR by executive teams, the two functions have become more complex and move towards even more distinctively separate roles in a business. That said, those companies who don’t get caught up on what’s marketing and what’s PR, and instead focus on identifying the most effective tools for delivering to their objectives, will have the most effective communication strategy. The point of my post is that it’s vital to be able to provide absolute clarity to employees about their roles and deliverables in order to successfully achieve a strong, cohesive communications strategy.


Written for CP Communications


Google Plus what?

25 08 2011

What craziness… someone taking on Facebook with a social network? And wouldn’t you think that internet monster Google would be smart enough not to try again after two failures of attempting to launch a comparative product? But this time, all the techies are chomping at the bit about Google’s new social network expecting it to rival the 30 minutes people spend on Facebook each day (I must admit I perform above average on this one).

The key difference with Google+ is that users won’t have a choice about whether or not they’ll be using it. There are more Gmail users than Facebook, with Facebook users actually decreasing. While we aren’t going to be suddenly shutting down our Facebook profiles and migrating to Google+, we ARE going to be spending more time on Google’s network. When going to do your usual Google search, Google news, Google finance or any Google powered site, you’ll see a box pop up with notifications and your connected user’s activity.  Those getting a sneak preview of the new network (I’m still waiting for my invite Google!) are saying you can’t resist but click through to the various notifications and explore the cyber worlds of your friends. Another plus I envisage is for those people whose employers are still blocking social media sites. We all use Google.com on a daily basis so it will be highly unlikely that employers will block the site, and in turn allowing access to Google+. A win for procrastination!

The talk has been that theoretically, there are three unique capabilities on Google+

  • Circles: this application allows you to target the content you share to specific groups of people. Does this mean it could potentially be the meeting point between LinkedIn and Facebook? Those in your ‘Professional Circle’ don’t need to hear about your Sunday morning hangover but you can have your personal and professional contacts on the same platform.
  • Hangouts: Group video chats, what does this mean for Skype? Or is Skype going to come to the party too and enable group video chats?
  • Sparks: An RSS type application that produces a constant stream of articles, photos and videos on the subjects that you nominate as your interests. Yep, there’ll be no more scanning the news feed for something that interests you, it’s yours to shape.

What a strategic way to use their strengths to drive social media usage? Plus, this time they’re using the Google brand in the name instead of the previous Buzz or Orkut – smart move. I don’t know if I’d like those notification boxes popping up, they sound very similar to the annoying pop up ads, but we’ll see. All I know is I’m not getting left behind again like the whole twitter situation! Plus, I’m already Google loyal with my Samsung Android, what’s another one to add to the mix?

Since posting this Facebook has announced Skype integration – http://fb.me/zaruO0Cj

Social Media Stalking

25 08 2011

Let’s explore the forward thinking music that is Sietta. This emerging Australian duo were founded in Darwin and are producing an electronic sound that’s highly addictive. One thing that sticks with me from Sietta is their use of Twitter. I can tag them and every time they’ll respond. Now that’s marketing in its finest form. I must admit, when the whole ‘Twitter thing’ came about I was highly sceptical. To the point where I put money down on it failing within three years. It’s now been going for five, I’m down $20, I’ve become an avid user and my old boss has a smug look on his face every time he sees me. I just couldn’t understand how it was different to Facebook statuses, except that it’s out there for the whole world to see. And those who regarded their everyday thoughts so highly that they thought they were worth sharing with the general public… well what self important tools! Then from a marketing perspective, the limitation of 140 characters didn’t really convince me that you could push out effective brand messages. Wow was I wrong. There’s so much more to it than that. It’s an amazing marketing and networking tool, if used correctly. Those who have an equal balance of tweeting and following/researching really get the most out of this phenomenal channel.

It’s funny to look at all the social media channels out there:

  • You’ve got Facebook. AKA Stalkbook. Kind of like going to the pub where you run into all your friends – as well as those who you’ve seen tagged in your friends’ photos. It’s fast becoming an acceptable and openly discussed form of stalking and it’s just about to be taken to the next level. Ever used the music app Shazaam? Well my housemate and I have been talking for a while about the day Shazaam for faces is introduced to the world. The day has come. Meet Friendthem. A Facebook / mobile application designed to show the profiles of other Facebook users around you, then you can send requests immediately or save profiles. Imagine that, standing in a pub and getting a request from that weirdo across the bar – With no effort, he/she now knows your name, your friends and maybe where you live, depending on your privacy settings. Ahhh how life is becoming freakishly transparent.
  • Twitter. No, it’s not just for Lady Gaga to tell people what she’s wearing. It’s like going to a networking cocktail party. There’s so much to learn, and it’s probably one of the fastest ways to get the latest news and ‘follow’ thought leaders.
  • Myspace is obviously like going to a gig; not so much a mainstream concert as it’s more the emerging artists that benefit most from this site.
  • LinkedIn is the pinnacle of professional networking so it’s looked upon as being like a conference. The ‘stalker’ thing about this medium is that you can see who’s been checking out your profile – Yes Dvraval the furniture manager in India, you creep, I’m not sure why you found my profile interesting last Tuesday.
  • Then you’ve got blogging. The first born of the social media family and probably the hardest to build a solid and loyal following. They say blogging is laying your heart on the table for the world to see. From personal experience it’s highly addictive and potentially detrimental to meeting your career deadlines.
  • YouTube is kind of like New Years or Australia Day. Everyone is dying to make fools of themselves in the name of humour.

Expertise in social media has fast become a highly sought after profession. If you look at Seek, there are literally tons of social media specialist roles – paying well too. 20 years ago who’d have thought you could make a living out of being a professional stalker?