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The difference between marketing and public relations

The lines between marketing and public relations are sometimes blurred. While both work to promote, there are significant differences between the two.

Marketing deals primarily with product awareness and promotion. Those involved with marketing work to promote a specific product or service a company or organization offers. Marketing professionals will concern themselves with the products the company provides, the customers and their needs, and are working to anticipate what the next product will be or how to promote it.

A marketing approach will work to sell a product rather than an organization by taking into consideration demand, competition, and how to get more people to purchase services or products.

An effective marketing plan will accomplish the following:

  • Define a target market in order to know who to promote the products towards.

  • Identify the customers and competitors. Knowing competitors and their strategies will help a company to stay ahead by remaining competitive.

  • Outline a strategy for attracting and keeping customers as well as identifying change.

Public Relations
While marketing deals with products, public relations will deal more with the company itself. A public relations professional is more concerned with the public's view of the company and the company's reputationrather than trying to get the public to purchase the products (although the two often go hand in hand - people who trust a company or organization are more likely to donate money to it or purchase services).

A public relations campaign will work to do the following:
  • Increase and maintain visibility and public awareness of an organization, company, or event

  • Help the public to see the organization as an industry leader

  • Increase awareness of the organization's programs, products, and services throughout the community, state, country, or world

  • Help enhance and maintain the organization's image

  • Support and organize efforts with regards to fundraising

  • Act as liaison and support in the event the organization experiences any negative publicity

  • Boost employee morale and help to recruit and retain employees

Public Relations and Marketing Together
Many public relations and marketing departments work hand in hand as they both work to keep the company and its products in a favorable light.

Let's say a company has recently experienced some bad press. Their sales are down and the public's opinion of them in unfavorable as well. A marketing department's main focus would be increasing sales, while the public relations department would be more concerned with restoring the reputation of the company.

In this case, the marketing department and the public relations department would work hand in hand to try and bolster sales and help restore the public's confidence in the company. Together, the two departments may come up with a plan to do both at the same time; for example, the public relations department plans a fundraiser to donate money to an animal shelter. The company promises that for every product sold, they will donate a percentage to the animal shelter. The public may be more apt to purchase products from this company rather than competitors because a portion of the profit is going towards a good cause. A campaign such as this works not only to increase sales, but to put the company back in good standing with the public.

Although they tend to fall under the same umbrella, public relations and marketing perform different but equally important tasks for companies.

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