Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

You, and the great debate..Marketing vs PR

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm

marketing v pr

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Last week we had a minor crisis in our office. Three PR grads sat round a table trying to figure out how to Market one of our up-coming events. Our conclusion? We are NOT Marketing professionals. And as we sat there complaining that there were not enough Marketing courses offered in school and obviously using that as our excuse, the discussion turned to how the world perceives these two professions. Most people see marketing and PR as interchangeable, or even the same. But they are not and this is a conversation I have had a lot over the course of my career.

So what’s the big difference? Well, from what I am told, Marketing is much more entangled in revenue generation. Getting a product (an event, an item, a cause) from the company/organization to the customer/consumer. And making sure that product attracts resources (money). So marketing is involved in all the channels that lead from product development to customer attraction. YOU can build the best, most effective widget in the world, but people will only beat down your door to buy it, if they know about the widget, and where to find the door.

Public Relations is about building relationships. We build relationships with both internally and externally which help our organizations and companys engage their target publics. We create a product and ensure it is appropriate for our public to buy-in. But I will never be able to define it as eloquently as American PR superstar Harold Burson, “Public Relations is an applied social science that influences behaviour and policy, when communicated effectively, motivates an individual or group to a specific course of action by creating, changing or reinforcing opinions and attitudes.” That is pretty succinct.

The comment I hear most usually has to do with “spin”. That term has unfortunately become synonymous with PR. In reality, Marketing is more about “spin” than PR. Marketers need to find the right angles to draw in target markets, so they may use more manipulative tactics to do so. PR, however, is much more straight forward and similar to journalism. We do not try to cover up the truth, we own the truth.

As I poke around the internet, reading various articles about Marketing vs. PR, I realize there are two common threads: the potency of these two professions seems to be maximized when they work together, and there is never any mention of revenue generation in any definition for public relations. The definitions vary, but none of them seem to be concerned with money. And as a PR professional working in the Fund Development genre, I have to say, I find this a little bit confusing, because what we do in our organization depends on the money we raise. We are definitely concerned and motivated by both a passion to help our clients and raising the most money we possibly can. So does this mean that Fund Development needs a new definition outside of PR altogether?

What are your thoughts on this issue? We would love to hear what you have to say. Do you think my definitions are accurate? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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