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Public Relations vs Marketing: What’s The Difference?

cartoon illustration of public relations concept

When it comes to ecommerce, public relations (PR) and marketing are two essential disciplines that often overlap and complement each other. However, despite their intertwined nature, PR and marketing serve distinct purposes and employ different strategies to achieve their goals. 

And for businesses looking to effectively communicate with their target audiences and build a strong brand reputation, understanding the nuances between these two fields is key. So, what makes these two marketing strategies different? In this blog, we’re going to dive into the key differences between public relations and marketing, explore how they operate, and discuss how they can work together to drive business success.

Public Relations Overview

Definition and Scope

Public relations is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an organisation to the public to maintain a positive reputation and build relationships with stakeholders. Generally speaking, PR professionals focus on crafting and delivering messages that shape public perception, often through earned media such as news articles, interviews, and press releases. The scope of PR extends beyond just media relations; it also encompasses crisis management, event planning, and community outreach.


The primary objectives of public relations are to enhance and protect an organisation’s reputation, build credibility, and foster trust with key stakeholders. PR efforts aim to create a favourable image of the company, its products or services, and its leadership, and does so by effectively communicating with the public and managing relationships with media outlets and influencers. In short, PR helps organisations navigate complex issues, mitigate crises, and build long-term goodwill.

Marketing Overview

Definition and Purpose

Marketing, on the other hand, is the strategic process of promoting and selling products or services to target audiences, and something of an umbrella term. It involves identifying customer needs, developing products or services to meet those needs, and creating compelling messages to persuade potential customers to make a purchase, no matter which channel is then used to do so. Marketing encompasses a wide range of tactics, including advertising, content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, and more.


The primary objective of general marketing is to drive sales and revenue growth by attracting and retaining customers; marketers focus on understanding their target audience, crafting messages that resonate with their needs and desires, and delivering those messages through the most effective channels. Through brand awareness, generating leads, and nurturing customer relationships, marketing helps organisations grow their customer base and increase their market share.

Differentiating Between PR and Marketing

a street signpost with the word marketing printed on it

Focus and Audience

One key difference between PR and marketing lies in their focus and target audience: public relations focuses on building and maintaining relationships with a broad range of stakeholders, including media, employees, investors, and the general public. PR professionals aim to shape public opinion and manage the overall reputation of an organisation, while marketing focuses primarily on customers and prospects, with the goal of driving sales and revenue.

Communication Approach

PR and marketing also differ in their communication approach; public relations relies heavily on earned media, meaning the coverage and exposure gained through third-party outlets such as news articles, interviews, and press releases. PR professionals work to create compelling stories and messages that media outlets will find newsworthy and want to share with their audiences. Marketing, in contrast, primarily uses paid and owned media, such as advertising, company websites, and social media channels, to directly reach and influence target audiences.

Measurement and Evaluation

Measuring the success of PR and marketing efforts also differs; PR success is often evaluated based on metrics such as media coverage, sentiment analysis, and brand perception, with the goal being to assess how effectively PR efforts have shaped public opinion and built positive relationships with key stakeholders. Marketing success, on the other hand, is typically measured by more tangible metrics such as website traffic, lead generation, conversion rates, and revenue growth.

Integration Opportunities

Collaboration Opportunities

Despite their differences, PR and marketing can greatly benefit from collaboration and integration; in working together, PR and marketing teams can create a more cohesive and impactful communication strategy. For example, PR can help generate buzz and earn media coverage around a new product launch, while marketing can leverage that coverage to drive targeted campaigns and sales. By using PR and SEO together, businesses can amplify their message and reach a wider audience.

Integrated Communication

Finally, integrated communication is an approach that combines PR, marketing, and other communication disciplines to deliver a consistent and unified message across all channels. In aligning their efforts and speaking with one voice, brands can build a stronger brand identity, increase credibility, and drive better results. Put simply, an integrated approach ensures that all communication efforts work together seamlessly to achieve common goals and objectives.

Final Thoughts

Overall, while public relations and marketing serve different purposes and employ distinct strategies, they’re both equally essential for business success in today’s competitive, digitally-focused landscape. Through a deep understanding of the unique roles and strengths of each discipline, you as a business owner or brand can leverage them effectively to build brand awareness, enhance your reputation, and ultimately, drive growth. When PR and marketing work together in harmony, the results can be truly powerful.

If you’re looking to take your PR and marketing efforts to the next level, consider partnering with a marketing and PR agency in London like us at Clickslice. We’re both PR experts while also marketing-savvy, so we can help you develop and execute an integrated communication strategy that delivers measurable results. From delivering compelling stories to driving targeted campaigns, we’ve got the expertise and resources to help your business thrive in today’s digital age.

Article by:

Joshua George is the founder of ClickSlice, an SEO Agency based in London, UK.

He has eight years of experience as an SEO Consultant and was recently hired by the UK government for SEO training. Joshua also owns the best-selling SEO course on Udemy, and has taught SEO to over 100,000 students.

His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, AgencyAnalytics, Wix and lots more other reputable publications.