PR and Marketing Pros Showing Signs of Dipping Into Each Other’s Toolbox

Marketers and public relations professionals used to be extremely segregated. Where one was responsible for coordinating trade shows, sending email campaigns, designing direct mail flyers and buying lists, the other was building clip books, calling on journalists and strategically elevating the public exposure of a brand through award wins, speaking opportunities and press release announcements.

When David Meerman Scott first pronounced how the ‘rules have changed’ so too did the roles and not overly what the responsibilities were but how we go about fulfilling those responsibilities to reach goals. It’s more and more common to see public relations firms providing content strategies and even launching and running social media campaigns for their clients.

Here are a few ‘marketing’ tools and how they have been adopted by both marketers and public relations professionals to reach their respective goals.

Content Marketing

Ask Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi or C.C. Chapman and they will all tell you that marketers are taking on the role of publisher. Content has provided companies with a whole new way of generating leads by providing thoughtful, useful, quality content. This not only aides in driving leads to sales but in cultivating relationships and supporting customer loyalty programs.

Goal: Lead generation, resource center

Public relations professionals have also seen the power of content and the exposure and publicity a great piece of research can garner. As journalists and reporters seek to unveil new data and trends, research reports have become a vital component of the PR strategy. In addition, while the formal press release still has its place in the media, journalists are requesting more content in the form of videos and podcasts.

Goal: Thought leadership, journalist need fulfillment

Social Media Marketing

Social media has become widestream and it’s evident to marketers that it has provided a unique opportunity to connect with millions of people in real-time. Using this tool, marketers are generating leads, generating demand and building customer loyalty. In addition, social media provides a gateway to the insights of customer and potential customers by providing the marketer with information regarding interests, likes, dislikes and challenges.

Goal: Lead generation and customer loyalty

PR pros are also now turning to social media to compliment their efforts in other areas. They have recognized that this is a key element to building relationships with journalists and reporters on these communication platforms. In addition, by running campaigns for their corporate clients, they are able to bridge their efforts to build awareness and increase visibility of their client in these channels.

Goal: Increase visibility, build awareness, enhance public image of client company


While brands continue to require professionals in both roles, I see the likeness between the two getting greater and greater not only in using the same types of tools but reaching the audience in the way the audience wants to be reached.

A common example is reaching those ‘influencers’ that your target listens to. Once it was a big deal to get mentioned in the Wall Street Journal (it still it by the way!) but is your audience listening to the Wall Street Journal reporter or the influencer who consistently provides thought leadership and guidance? Social media and content will play a vital role to gain the attention of this group and much more.

What do you think the difference is between marketing and PR? Is it more than just the way they use these tools?

About the Author

Christina Pappas is Sr. Inbound Social Marketing Manager at Zmags. She is primarily responsible for using social media channels to ‘spread the word’ about Zmags and the company’s long-standing knowledge of the digital media space. She received her BA in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University and is presently living in Beverly, MA with her bunny, Martini. Contact her on Twitter.


6 comments on “PR and Marketing Pros Showing Signs of Dipping Into Each Other’s Toolbox

  1. In my opinion, I see Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) becoming the norm and the more specific agencies doing more and more crossover work. It’s one of the reasons that, even though I’m told I should find a segment of Public Relations to focus on (currently Healthcare and Non-Profit), I’m hesitant to only follow PR news and trends. It’s more time-consuming, but I definitely feel like in order to do my job well, I have to have at least general knowledge of marketing and advertising in addition to news and media stories because the barriers between all of it seem to be coming down.

    What are your thoughts?

    All the Best,

    • Hi James,

      I agree. While its always good to have a focus, you don’t want to silo yourself in anyway. It has been interesting for me to watch over the last few years how PR professionals and the agencies have changed the way in which they perform essentially the same task. Pitches to companies now have a high emphasis on content strategies and social media.

      I spoke with a friend of mine who is a partner at a PR agency here in Boston at lunch about 2 years ago. I had asked him what he thought about social media and how this may or may not overlap into the services he offered. He was pretty adamant that there was no crossover and that his staff would not be spending their time (or much of it) in the social channels on behalf of clients.

      Fast forward 2 years and his pitch now has a heavy emphasis on his team’s strengths when it comes to Pr strategies that include social media. Writing classic press releases now involves more than that, journalists want videos and infographics and use cases. And more importantly, they are using social channels to build relationships and network, not the telephone.

      To go back to your question, I think that it would only empower a PR professional, like yourself, to have knowledge of marketing and advertising. The way marketing has evolved from outbound, interruptive advertising to inbound, thoughtfully resource thought leadership is playing a role in how PR is working with the media and how the media is responding to brands.


  2. I feel there is not much difference between the two. The execution may vary a little but the goal is the same. Can it be agreed a message delivered over multiple channels will resonate more with consumers or a defined market than a single one? I think so, people respond to brands quicker with with access to a wide array of information at their fingertips at any given moment. Thanks for the interesting post.


    • Hi Kaleef,

      Your last comment regarding delivery of the same message using a multi-channel approach is spot-on. Whether you are talking to consumers, the media, marketing professionals, investors, etc., they are all consuming information in different ways on different devices and at different times. Using a multi-channel approach most common in marketing combined with thoughtful content, I believe PR pros will be able to cast a wider net and gain more exposure (and the right kind) from the people that matter to their clients.


  3. I agree that the line between marketing and social media is becoming more and more vague. I am a student studying PR at the University of Alabama, and it’s so apparent that PR and online marketing through social media is the future! Although a student, I still have experience as both a PR writer and marketer for Platform Magazine. The Magazine is a great resource for PR themed blogs and articles, but as a student editor we learn to write for and promote the website. It’s interesting to think that with one degree, I am learning how to actually succeed in many fields!
    See what I am talking about at

  4. Pingback: How Marketing Grads View PR « PR at Sunrise

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s