What’s The Difference Between PR and Marketing?

An age-old question: Are PR and marketing the same thing?

Maybe a not-so-age-old answer: Nope.

You can envision marketing as one giant umbrella. Under this umbrella are various sub-sections of the marketing field, aka various ways of executing your marketing goals. Sub-sections of marketing include social media, content marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), and – you guessed it – PR.

In high-level terms, you can categorize most marketing into one of the following categories:

  • Paid Media
  • Owned Media
  • Earned Media


Paid media usually gets equated with “advertising.” It’s any media coverage you pay for – whether that’s social media ads, SEM, advertorials (media write-ups you pay for), etc.


Owned media is any communication medium you’re in control of – for example, a blog on your website and your social media channels.


Here’s where PR comes in. Earned media is any media coverage or promotions you didn’t pay for – whether an industry outlet writes an article about your company, publishes an interview with your CEO, your customers tag you on social media (user-generated content, UGC), etc.

There’s a lot of overlap between the various fields of marketing, and no individual piece lives in a vacuum. As with anything, PR works best when it’s aligned with your other marketing efforts. After all, isn’t everyone working towards the same goal?

Yes and no. On a macro level yes, everyone is working towards the same big picture success metrics (often termed Key Performance Indicators, KPIs). But when you dive into the nitty gritty, there are some key differences in shorter term KPIs for marketing and PR teams.


The goal of marketing is to create demand for our products and services. Sounds high-level? That’s because it is. Marketers use various tools and tactics to stimulate demand and trigger a response from potential customers, directing them to your products and services.

TL;DR Ultimate Marketing Goal: Interested buyers and direct sales.


The goal of public relations is to create brand awareness, brand love, and building / maintaining brand reputation. A PR professional strategically finds organic (earned media) ways to accomplish these goals by communicating effective messaging with your target audiences. Though you can have short-term wins, PR is a long-term game and it’s ultimate value is derived from maintaining (and refreshing) your brand’s reputation, with quality media placement that drives customers – and sales – for years to come.

TL;DR Ultimate PR Goal: Brand Awareness, Love + Reputation.

Though you may see more short-term wins from quantifiable marketing efforts, PR is the gift that keeps on giving. As a business you should always be looking ahead to what’s next, keeping the long-game in mind. Good PR helps you move seamlessly and successfully into your future, telling your story and growing invaluable trust with your customers along the way.

Want to better align and optimize your marketing efforts? Increase brand awareness? Have more questions? Shoot us an email at or via the form below; we’d love to chat!