In the last post, you got the low down on the difference between PR and brand strategy. Marketing was mentioned in passing, but now it’s time to give it some more attention. Let’s define it and explore how it intertwines with public relations. Marketing – What Exactly Is It?

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

In plain English, marketing is planning how to create desire in your target market and then offering them something of value to satisfy that desire.

A prime example of great marketing is the Snuggie, the blanket with sleeves for your arms. Before this product was released, everyone was fine with their normal, sleeveless blankets. However, as the millions of sold product prove, once a desire is created, even one we didn’t know we had, there’s money to be made.

How Does PR Come Into the Marketing Mix?

Though these concepts are unique, there is often a blurred line between the two; there are many companies that simply assign both activities together. They do ultimately have the same goal: to help your company sell more of your product or service. However, it is important to remember that one is proactive while the other is reactive. So, like the classic question of the chicken or the egg, which one comes first?

  • When marketing, you are being proactive in generating a response from consumers. Once consumers have reacted to that marketing, you respond to the consumers by communicating through PR efforts.

New Coke – a Perfect Example

In an attempt to regain the largest market share back in the 80s, Coca-Cola created a new formula that was referred to as “New Coke”. After many studies and blind taste tests, the company marketed this new drink as something refreshing that all would find was new and improved.  What they did not predict was the overwhelming backlash from the public.

Although the product had been marketed as something better, the public was appalled to find their classic soda had been altered and demanded the return of the original drink. This is where PR, not marketing, stepped in. The Coca-Cola headquarters handled over 31,6000 phone calls from angry Coke lovers within the first two days of the alteration and, when the company decided to bring back what is now called “Classic Coke”, Coca-Cola had the news broadcasted on television and printed in the majority of the most widely-circulating newspapers. This was to regain a positive image in the eyes of their consumers and jump at the chance to get major exposure for the company.

This was an example of great PR. Coca-Cola used this situation as an opportunity to show the world that Coca-Cola isn’t simply a drink but something they love in their everyday lives. Reacting very quickly with their PR efforts, the company turned what some consider being the worst marketing failure of all time into something positive.

Look At That

PR and marketing may be closely intertwined, but you can now see how each of these concepts is quite distinct. Let’s take a final moment to give the most basic defining difference between the two.

  • Marketing is generating responses to the public.
  • PR is reacting to the responses that come from the public.

To Sum it Up

It is important for not only you to understand the difference between the two, but it is vital that the rest of your company does as well. Having separate people at a company handle these aspects of the business is a good way of ensuring that there are no blurred lines between the two activities.

  • (However, if you have a smaller sized company where employees wear multiple hats, they may have to take care of both marketing and PR. And that is fine, as long as they understand how each of these duties must be addressed differently. )

Now that you’re sure of what marketing and PR are and how they connect with one another, go forth and spread the word. You’re ready to generate responses and react to those responses!