Marketing vs. PR Event Recap & Key Takeaways


The marketing vs. PR debate of 2015 is over. All panelists left free of black eyes and other wounds. If you’re looking for war, watch Game of Thrones instead of a Marketing vs. PR debate because the all panelists agreed that marketing and PR both need and complement each other. Panelists did disagree on some points. Read on for details!


Marketing vs. PR: Purposes, Differences, & Misconceptions

Public relations focuses on building relationships with potential clients and their communities. Some incorrectly assume that PR is the act of publicizing stories to a massive audience and going to parties and lunches. That is far from the truth. Effective PR campaigns work because they are guided by consumer research and are targeted with pinpoint accuracy. Marketing, on the other hand, focuses on controlling the long-term reach and frequency of messages and helping drive sales, with emphasis on the word “helping.” A common assumption is that marketing automatically drives sales, no matter what. This is a misconception because marketing is a piece of the puzzle, not the whole puzzle. Without a good product, efficient operations, effective leadership, and other necessities, marketing cannot drive sales, no matter how well it’s done.

While both marketing and PR deliver returns on investment, they do it in different ways. Sales conversions, impressions, clicks, and the like are common ROI measurements for marketing. For PR, data on human engagement is the focus. PR teams may collect data such as number of attendees at an event or number of participants in an online conversation.



Marketing and PR campaigns do share some goals. Both marketing and PR are meant to bolster brand image as well as increase brand awareness, name recognition, and client engagement. They just differ a bit in how they achieve these goals. Additionally, marketing and PR both rely on data collection and analysis. Without data collection, neither marketing nor PR teams can achieve their goals.



Which clients should use marketing and which should use PR? The focus should not be marketing vs. PR; it should be marketing and PR. Most clients need both of these services and, therefore, benefit most from a holistic approach in which PR and marketing specialists collaborate. The exact mix of PR and marketing services will depend on the client, the campaign, and the venue. Overlap is particularly common in venues that allow for both PR and marketing activities, for example, social media. Many social media platforms allow for both advertising (a marketing function) and conversations/relationship building (a PR function). Marketing and PR teams must be savvy enough to decide what mix each client needs and to develop the right long-term strategy for each client. When asked whether it is better for a person to specialize in one area or do both PR and marketing, panelists were divided. Some believe it is better to specialize in one and outsource the other, while others believe that specializing in both is possible and more beneficial, given the significant overlap between the two.


Key Takeaways for Marketing & PR Professionals

As marketing and PR professionals, we cannot underestimate our clients. Our clients have more in-depth knowledge of their customers than we do and we need to use their knowledge to build our campaigns. Also, focusing too much on whether certain tasks fall in the realm of marketing or PR can hinder a campaign. We will be most effective when we forget the titles and focus on taking ownership in our client companies and achieving superior results. Just as our clients teach us about their customers, we teach them. We are their advisors and our job is to formulate strategy and see the larger picture so our clients can focus on the day-to-day operations of their companies. Lastly, we must always continue learning and seeking new information. Those who stop seeking information will fall behind.

We would like to thank sponsors Crazy Marketing Ladies for hosting a live podcast, Ballywho Social for hosting a live Twitter chat, and Ryan G Photo for capturing the moment – see our photo album on Facebook.  We would also like to thank our panelists for not only taking time to participate, but also for making this a lively and interesting debate!


Participating Panelists
Glenn Selig – Sellig Multi-Media (Mktg & PR)
Patrick Owings – ChappellRoberts (Mktg)
Brian Butler – Vistra Communications (PR)
Lisa Brock – Brock Communications (PR)
Ernest Hopper – Tampa Bay Times (Moderator)
Rob McCormick – &Barr (Mktg)

 About the Author

Chiara Tedone


Chiara is Digital Content Creator and Blog Manager for AMA Tampa Bay. She is Co-founder and Director of Winning the Fight, a non-profit organization specializing in neurodegenerative disease research. Chiara is also a freelance digital marketer for small businesses and is finishing up her MBA with a specialty in marketing from the University of South Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Chiara lived in Washington, DC. She earned her BA in International Studies from American University’s School of International Services in 2007 and worked for Booz Allen Hamilton and the Department of Defense thereafter. Her hobbies include obstacle racing, running, swimming, kayaking, SCUBA diving, and opera/classical singing. She also loves country music and chocolate!

Contact Chiara

Email: Chiara at [email protected]

Social Media: LinkedIn