The Great Debate: Marketing vs. PR – An Event You Don’t Want to Miss!

Lincoln vs. Douglas, Kennedy vs Nixon, Obama vs. Romney, and now marketing vs. PR. Witness history in the making and join us on May 21st at Hilton Westshore to debate one of the most contested topics in our industry.

In preparation for the debate we asked Chapter Presidents Jennie Jordan (AMA Tampa Bay) and Chad McLeod (FPRA Tampa Bay) to prime the proverbial pump and give us their thoughts on this topic.  Here’s what each had to say:

What is the difference between Marketing and PR?

Jennie:  “Marketing is more measurable and tangible, it has more structure and a bigger budget. PR is the softer sell that is meant to create awareness

AMA Tampa Bay Chapter President, Jennie Jordan

AMA Tampa Bay Chapter President, Jennie Jordan

while building relationships and serving as the face of the organization.”

Chad:  “Marketing focuses on the positioning of the organization’s products or services and requires more research.  PR focuses on the earned media, but many of the functions in marketing, PR people are already doing, such as the creative side and research side to name a few.”

Very salient points from both presidents, but what about social media?  With the rapid growth of social media over the past decade both functions are vying for the same real estate.  How do you see the marketing vs. PR debate shaking out through social channels?

Jennie:  “Social media provides marketing with tools to operate on the PR side. Yet face-to-face contact is important, so we still need PR.  I think PR has a leg up in social media, since it is more of a general awareness.  Marketing’s goal is to monetize social platforms, which is the next step and a much more difficult challenge.”

Chad:  “PR people are often better brand journalists than marketers because many of them are trained in Journalism.  Still, marketing plays an essential role and should be involved in social media strategy and content creation.  There is a definite benefit to have marketing people looking at the price point value.”

FPRA, Tampa Bay Chapter President, Chad McLeod

FPRA, Tampa Bay Chapter President, Chad McLeod

Now that we’ve explored some of the differences, what about collaboration?  What guidance would you give each other and other marketing and PR professionals on how best to partner together?      

Jennie:  “PR, don’t build relationships in a vacuum. Instead, turn the connections into something tangible that marketing can capitalize on. How? Collect leads at the events you host and when you make a connection with a client keep marketing in the loop.”

Chad:  “Marketing, collaborate with PR as much as possible.  I’ve seen situations where a copywriter from marketing will work on a project without any help from the PR side. PR professionals are some of the best writers in the business.  With regard to media relations and crisis communications, there is a tremendous amount of strategy and planning that go into both of these areas. Working successfully with the media on behalf of your organization or a client requires a lot more than just sending a news release or responding to a reporter’s call.”

Jennie:  “Work with marketing in advance to identify opportunities, rather than going out on your own. Be more strategic in the connections you make. You can’t undervalue creating awareness.”

Chad:  “Marketing is known for its ability to conduct research and gather strong insights about its audiences before launching a campaign. Historically, I don’t think PR has been as strong as marketing in the area of research. My FPRA colleagues might throw stones at me for saying this, but I think it’s true.”

Sage advice indeed.  Any parting thoughts on this week’s Marketing and PR event?

Jennie:  “I can’t wait to hear the debate. We are both out there to generate business and we just go about it different ways, but we want to learn from each other how to collaborate.”

Chad:  “I know there’s a lot of excitement among our members about this debate. The majority of our members are in a job that requires them to do both PR and marketing at times, so this event is a perfect discussion. The PR side will definitely win! Okay, maybe it will be a draw…”

Both chapter presidents are right – whether you’re on the marketing side of the fence or PR side, we share a common goal.  We just go about it in different ways.  We look forward to continuing this discussion with panelists from &Barr, Sellig Multi-Media, ChappellRoberts, Vistra Communications, and Brock Communications.  Sponsors Ballywho Social and the CrazyMarketingLadies will host a live Twitter chat and Podcast respectively.  Finally, we’ll hear opening remarks from sponsor BoldVoice Digital.  We look forward to seeing you there!