Public relations and marketing are two very important aspects of business, which help a brand or business to promote themselves and their products, create greater visibility for themselves, create brand awareness and increase leads and sales. They are the foremost activities that help a business to achieve its goals and growth.

While it is a very thin line that differentiates these two important activities, they are certainly not the same, and are very different from each other according to reputed PR companies in Sri Lanka and elsewhere around the world. Marketing mainly focusses its attention on promoting the business’ products and services and gaining more leads and sales, thereby increasing revenue and profits. When it comes to PR however, the emphasis is on promoting the brand or business’ reputation and maintaining it in the public’s eye. 

So, what are the significant differences between marketing and PR?

  • Function – As we mentioned, marketing tends to promote the company’s products and services with the intention of gaining increased sales, however PR tends to promote the business itself among the general public with the intention of creating and maintaining a positive image and thereby increasing its credibility and trust among customers.
  • Target audience – Marketing focusses its attention on the company’s current customers and the potential customers who are out there, while PR focusses on the broader picture, and aims at building relationships with more effective communication techniques with anyone among the general public who shows an interest in the brand or business.
  • Goals – The goals for these two divisions are very different according to a public relations agency in Sri Lanka. According to them, marketing aims at promoting the products of the company by reaching customers and helping them to make a buying decision. In the case of PR, they aim to create a positive communication channel between the business and the general public or those interested in the business, in order to create a good reputation.
  • Costs – Marketing tends to be more focused on paid advertising and promotions that can bring in revenue for the business, while PR activities are considered as free publicity or exposure, aimed at creating a good image for the brand and business. Measuring a PR activity’s return on investment is much harder than measuring those of marketing activities as there is no tangible result that can be measured.
  • Legitimacy – When it comes to public relations in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the world, many people believe that customers and the pubic in general will tend to believe the messages communicated through PR activities rather than marketing activities, as they are perceived as being legitimate, rather than marketing messages which are solely aimed at selling something to the customer thereby increasing revenue and profits. 
  • Longevity – Marketing activities are usually short term and are aimed at achieving short term goals such as increased sales within a specific period of time etc. However, when it comes to public relations in Sri Lanka, it is more of a long-term goal, and the business or brand can reap the benefits of effective PR activities over long periods of time. 

It is important to remember though, that even thought here is a huge difference between marketing and public relations, a company cannot survive by using only one of these activities alone, but need both. In fact, these two activities are intertwined in each other, and when carried out together only will reap the benefits to achieve the company’s goals and grow the business. 

Certain activities such as social media marketing and influencer marketing are handled by both the marketing and PR professionals, despite being used for achieving different goals. While marketers may use these tactics to promote a specific product or service of the company, the PR professionals may use them to promote the business itself and its reputation. Hence a much greater level of collaboration and cooperation is required from the two different divisions in order to successfully achieve the goals of the company.

Whichever goal you are looking at achieving, whether long term or short term, when it comes to marketing and PR, you need an experienced professional backing you up, with the right know-how and expertise on their subject matter, as well as knowledge in the most relevant methods, techniques, tools and practices which are always evolving. This is why you need a reputed marketing (or digital marketing) or public relations agency in Sri Lanka as your partner.

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