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PR or marketing—which one is more important?

by | May 26, 2021 | Analysis, Public Relations

When starting companies, plenty of business owners start wondering whether they need public relations or marketing, and even wonder what the difference between the two is.

With marketing, it’s all about promoting a brand and its products or services to a target audience, which is usually done through advertising. Whether it’s up billboards, taking out pages in a magazine or a newspaper, or putting an ad on social media, marketing is all about promotion and its goal is to improve a company’s bottom line.

Additionally, when companies set a marketing budget, the marketer will then calculate the estimated number of impressions and the overall Return on Investment (ROI) for those marketing efforts.

On the other hand, public relations is about brand awareness and brand reputation. It’s not about the ad itself, like in marketing, but about the story behind the ad, and its placement. PR is what engages audiences and turns potential leads into loyal consumers through brand engagement and awareness.

The simplest way to explain PR and marketing is this:

When a potential consumer sees an ad, if they find it interesting enough to engage with, they’ll start to look for the story behind that ad. They’ll want to learn what the brand is about, who is involved in it, why it’s different from all the others, and how it can help improve their own life.

That’s precisely why most of the time, although PR and marketing are both different and similar, they have to work together to really bring success to a business.

However, for businesses that don’t have big budgets yet, as they are just starting out, it’s best to invest in public relations before marketing.

That’s because brand new companies should be creating branding and the story behind it before they invest in marketing and advertising. Companies that don’t tell a compelling story will have nothing to market that will bring a return on that kind of investment.

That’s why the primary investment for businesses should be in public relations

That type of investment can help build a brand, create a story behind it, and position the company as an industry expert. Once that’s done the company can start investing in marketing efforts and advertising; in more aggressive strategies that bring effective stories and messages in front of the right people.

There’s also a very popular misleading belief that in a way, public relations efforts are free, while marketing is an investment.

Although both efforts are actually monetary investments, it’s hard to put a numerical price on PR returns

Meanwhile, marketing has a set timeframe that makes it almost qualitative and can clearly show the return on investment.

However, public relations comes with a variety of branding and awareness efforts that range from increasing website traffic to improving SEO. Sometimes these efforts can be done with a single article or blog post. That’s why in the beginning PR is more important for companies, while marketing campaigns can be utilized for companies that already have plenty of exposure, or that need a quick boost pushing a product or a service.

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Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations: 5WPR is one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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