Marketing vs. Social Media vs. PR: What Each Means for Your Brand

Although we tend to hear the words public relations, marketing and social media used interchangeably they are three distinct entities instrumental in building a brand.

To make the picture a little clearer here’s a breakdown of the three:

Public Relation: Put simply public relations is all about building mutually beneficial relationships. PR professionals work to build and maintain the trust of various audiences. This is accomplished through a variety of strategies, including positive press coverage, events or fundraising efforts.  In essence, public relations consist of reputation management. However, instead of working to manage this reputation solely to promote a product or service, as marketers do, the PR person is primarily focusing on building trust with its key audiences.

Public relations is almost a roundabout way an organization goes about creating profit. Plus, PR has been known to be more cost effective than marketing, as a single placement from a media outlet can have a profound affect on the popularity of a brand.   Better stated, PR professionals believe if you build trust in the company’s brand the sales will come.

 Marketing: On the other hand, marketing focuses on how this trust directly impacts the bottom-line.  Marketers are not only concerned with building public awareness about their current products or services, but they are also looking at current trends to predict the future product and service needs of current and perspective clients.  To sum things up, marketing is about connecting with individuals in order to close the sale.

 You may wonder how does this differ from PR, but it varies greatly. Because traditional marketers can often get so sales focused, it can make it challenging for them to actually close the sales. Nowadays, people aren’t simply buying a product or service, but instead they are investing in a relationship, and if the customer’s expectations aren’t met or exceeded that relationship — and thus future sales— will end very quickly.

Thus, the current blurring of the line between PR and marketing is actually more profitable for an organization because it combines the product and service expertise of the marketer with the relationship-building skills of the PR professional.

Social media:  So, how does social media fit into and standout from marketing and PR? Social media is simply the tool an organization may use to execute a marketing or public relations campaign. While, it’s a good way to build “brand ambassadors” it is by no means the only tool in the PR or marketing professional’s toolbox, and it should always be used as a part of a broader plan.

Although effective in spreading word-of-mouth in the world’s largest public arena, the Internet, social media needs to be combined with a strong marketing and public relations strategy in order to keep customers happy with the products and services of the company, and the company itself. Companies that have effectively combined the three are not only having their brand received well, but as a by-product, they have a much healthier om-line.  

This article was originally posted on, where Chidelu “Chi-Chi” Enigwe  writes about trends in public relations and marketing.


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