Business MK column - Oct 2014

Tue 21 Oct 2014

Love and hate; two powerful words and two distinct emotions that couldn’t be more different.  They don’t belong together do they?  They shouldn’t exist side-by-side.

However they are two words that flash through my mind every time someone mentions “PR” and “Marketing” in the same breath; and you’d be surprised how often that happens.

Many people, believe that PR – public relations – is just another part of marketing which can be lumped in together with a marketing plan they might be considering.  To be honest, there are plenty of respectable marketing managers who will happily consider PR as just another function of their work.

“It’s all about getting the message out there about our business,” clients might tell me.  “As long as the press know about us, and our customers are aware of what we do, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?” they ask.

Well, for me it’s not as easy as that. You see, to my mind, PR and marketing are two totally different things.  That’s why I think it’s important to keep them apart, just like love and hate – a love-hate relationship perhaps? – the two things do not, and should not, work together.

For sure, PR and marketing departments all push for a common goal – a good, positive feel about their organisation. But it’s how they get there that’s different.  If Marketing and PR were police detectives, PR would be “good cop” and marketing would be “bad cop”.

PR is more about light and shade: presenting positive news stories, promoting goods and services in a friendly, sociable way, monitoring negative issues and damping down potentially damaging flames.

Marketing on the other hand, is big, bold and aggressive: it gets in your face and screams at you to buy its product, it rubbishes the competition and tells you it’s the best at what it does, its goal simply to drive sales and create profit.

Where marketing people strive for higher numbers, bigger profits and larger market share,  PR practitioners will be looking more for a long-term relationship with the media, with industry, community and sector stakeholders and with influencers based on goodwill, trust and honesty – an understanding of what their company does and how it does it, and a positive perception about its goods and services.  Everything a company does and doesn’t do, including marketing, contributes to its overall reputation and it is the management of that reputation which encapsulates all that is PR.  Marketing is essentially about the best ways to sell to customers.  PR is about the impression people have about the business; customers, yes, but suppliers, staff, government and community too.

So when people tell me that PR should be run by Marketing because, at the end of the day, it’s all the same thing, please excuse me if I beg to differ.  It’s not the same and never will be and no amount of marketing will convince me otherwise.

A nice bit of PR might do the trick though…

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