My psychology professor always lumped terms like “marketing”, “public relations” and “advertising” together, most likely due to a lack of interest in the subject. Professors in my business classes were eager to point out the differences between them. They took pride in the distinctions and were quick to reprimand anyone who failed to separate them. Of course there are similarities, but saying someone in marketing is a PR person is akin to calling someone in the Marines “Army boy” (not something I recommend doing).
I quickly learned the difference between marketing and PR. The goals of a marketer are sales and profit, while the goals of a PR person are positive perceptions and understanding. My professors would show how they could complement each other, but there was always this tension between them.
The two fields battle each other for scarce internal resources, each trying to show that it is more important for the company’s long term survival. It is similar to two brothers fighting for their mother’s attention. The mother could give all of her attention to one and do away with the other, but she would be a terrible parent. The same goes for a business. Getting rid of one is a sure fire way to ruin a company.
But things are not the same these days. With the explosion of social media, the lines begin to blur between marketing and PR. I no longer see the black void between the two that was instilled by my business professors. Companies are using their Twitter streams and Facebook pages to both market themselves and carefully craft consumer perceptions. While press releases and marketing campaigns still show the differences between the two subjects, the new shiny mediums are blending the two together, complementing each other and making businesses more efficient and effective.
The two have reconciled their differences and find that it is easier to get attention when they work together. They are still separate entities and hate being mistaken for one another, but their symbiotic relationship has helped them flourish. Is it a more mature relationship that will continue, or is it just a mutual respect over a new toy, easily forgotten once the initial appeal is gone?
About the Author
Jake Cripe is a recent Marketing graduate from the University of Dayton. Follow him on Twitter via @JakeCripe.
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