on Aug 19, 2021 / by Corey Cantrell

Differences Between PR, Marketing, and Advertising and Their Applications

People tend to confuse the distinctions between marketing, advertising, and public relations since they are all used to promote a company and its products. It gets even more challenging when sponsored material shows up with news stories and ads appear as social media postings. You start to wonder where PR crosses the line into marketing and if social campaigns are any different from marketing campaigns.

It hardly comes as a surprise that distinguishing between these strategies is hard since they all seem to be interrelated. This is besides the fact that the pressure to produce a large volume of content causes B2B companies to worry if they are properly bridging the gap between quality and quantity. In this guide, you will discover the major distinction between PR, advertising and marketing, including when to deploy them.

Think of Public Relations as a map to communication.
There are a lot of ways to get there, but the execution is the most important part.

An Overview of Public Relations

Public relations (PR) is a type of marketing that aims to improve your company’s public image. It is a means to publicize your company’s name and, more importantly, to establish trust. To better understand PR, you need to think of it in two dimensions – the campaign and the obtainable results.

A public relations campaign covers any effort of a media or PR profession to communicate a company’s message. If your B2B firm decides to adopt diversity for its board of directors and include more persons of color, there would be a need to alert the media. The PR agency or a team member might notify reporters and bloggers and maybe even work with the executives to produce a video announcement and the significance of that news.

The result of this PR campaign will come in different forms of media attention, including an article feature talking about the company’s dedication to diversity, a journal article featuring the CEO’s words on the decision, a photojournalism story highlighting the brand, and an interview with the latest board member featured on a popular blog. An important point to note about PR is that it is earned. This means it is entirely down to what others, including bloggers, influencers, journalists, or industry insiders, say about the brand without any external influence from the brand itself.

This means that even if your PR team or agency is passing information out to the media folks, you have no say in what they eventually write or their presentation methods. Also, nothing can restrict the writer or reporter from undertaking further research to back up their narrative or get additional info.

This may sound strange, and reasonably too. Many B2B brands are skeptical of PR because they are accustomed to controlling their massage or narrative with “owned media,” including whitepapers, infographics, and blogs. However, you need to understand that building trust requires more than advertising and owned content.

These are key elements of the entire marketing jigsaw. Still, because consumers are becoming increasingly wary of promotional material and advertisements, you will need to commit resources to other alternatives to help your audience why they should opt for your brand over others.

The Applications of PR

PR is more effective as a regular project instead of a tool you only employ when there is an upcoming product launch or new event. To maintain consistent brand awareness, you need to use PR regularly. Your brand needs to join trending conversations and make contributions like making quotes for industry-related stories or engaging in interviews for focus pieces. This will help establish you as a trusted, well-informed source whenever they need to make a purchase.

Some of the cases where PR can be beneficial include product or service launch, changes to the board of directors or leadership, awards or recognition, milestones or anniversaries, crisis, expansion projects, merger or acquisition, and fundraising.

Marketing and its Applications

Marketing is broad and encompasses all of a company’s strategies, actions, and methods for communicating with prospective customers. Public relations and social media campaigns fall under marketing, so does content marketing, which covers video, podcasting, and blogging.

Deciding the form of marketing to employ is hardly straightforward. The marketing strategies to use consistently include:

  • Content: This includes every owned media, from blogging and guest articles to producing videos, holding webinars, and podcasting.
  • Emails: Maintain a relationship with your customers through targeted, regular, and personalized emails.
  • Social media marketing: Your company needs to build its presence on social media. You do not need to post every time or be on every platform. A solid presence on one or two platforms works, so you do not stretch yourself thin.

Public Relations

The following marketing channels should be used within the limits of your resources and for important events like announcements and product launches:

  • Influencer marketing: Work with an influencer in your niche or a sector you are targeting.
  • Video marketing: Produce YouTube videos or social videos. You can also create snippets from your YouTube videos for other social media platforms.
  • Experiential/events marketing: This includes online panels, product demos, and personalized brand activations.

Overview and Applications of advertising

Advertising covers every form of paid promotion targeted to make someone want to patronize a company and make a purchase. Advertising sits at the bedrock of any B2B company’s marketing and lead generation tactics and could include TV ads, print ads, and every online pay-per-click (PPC) ad.

Despite this, you should have other options besides advertising for reaching your target demographic. As mentioned earlier, customers are trusting ads less and less. Statistics from a 2019 research commissioned by the American Association of Advertising Agencies show that 96 percent of Americans think advertisers are not trustworthy. This is not an indication of advertising’s irrelevance in your marketing strategy. No.

You can significantly increase your conversion rate when you incorporate other forms of marketing, such as videos and blog posts, with advertising. Paid posts or social ads are incredibly effective to this end. It works by creating a social post that directs users to a blog post. If you decide to sponsor it and decide on an audience, it will significantly increase the number of people who see it, in contrast to leaving it for organic reach.

Investing money in paid social posts might not make sense if you believe social media marketing should be free. Indeed, social media marketing is free, but it is even more effective when you set a budget to promote the posts. Thanks to the billions of contents out there, the competition is high, from competitors’ posts to the latest fashion, political or mainstream news. Promoting your posts helps you get more visibility in the crowd.

The Applications

 Like PR, content, and social media marketing, you need to make advertisements a regular thing. When you have certain actions you need people to perform, you can develop a landing page to that end and create ads to direct visitors to the page. Examples include signup or registration for a course, webinar, newsletter, consultation, events, trials or content downloads.

When creating social advertisements, it is advisable to start by looking at the pages on your website or blog that are currently receiving the most traffic. If you use one of those websites in your social ad, you will have a better chance of getting a strong click-through rate (assuming you write strong, compelling social ad copy).

Retargeting is another feature of PPC and social advertisements. Ads are targeted based on a user’s prior online behavior, which is known as retargeting. You may offer relevant adverts to users who visit your website or click one of your social postings while they are on other websites. For instance, someone comes to your website and exit without signing up for a consultation or demo. These users will see adverts for your site while they surf other websites in the hours and days ahead. This helps them remember your website and hopefully return to fill the form and reach out to you.

In Summary

In essence, PR, marketing, and advertising all work toward the same end goal: boosting a specific product or service sales. However, they have specific purposes within that broad goal that can help you appreciate their distinction.

Marketing’s goal is to gain new consumers while nurturing and keeping an excellent relationship with them in the long run. Advertising’s purpose is to keep customers informed, persuaded, or reminded of your brand or product. Public relations aims to boost the organization’s status, build and preserve its reputation, and convey a positive image.

You can determine which options have the highest benefit for you by closely tracking the time and resources invested in them. You will be able to pinpoint the initiatives that need your attention the most, better allocate your marketing budget, boost sales and conversions, and ensure that the time you spend on marketing is spent wisely.

For B2B enterprises, public relations, marketing, and advertising are essential parts of successful outreach. Without strategic utilization and investment, you can reach more people, persuade more B2B customers, and, most importantly, develop your relationship with those buyers, so they return to your business.

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