Before the rise of digital marketing and content distribution, the jobs of marketers and PR professionals were usually quite distinct. Marketers focused on customer acquisition, primarily through paid advertising, while PR pros focused on getting earned media with tools like press releases and direct media outreach.
But these days, those roles are not quite as distinct as they used to be. Due to the rise of social media, content marketing and other fundamental changes in the way we build and interact with an audience, the line between PR and marketing is much less clear. The jobs are still distinct from each other, but cooperation and coordination are more important than ever.
One – Two Punch
Think about the last time you responded to a marketing message. Let’s say you saw a banner ad for an item on sale and bought it. Most likely the marketing message (the banner ad) by itself was not the reason you bought. You probably already had a favorable impression of the brand and the product. Maybe you read an article about it, or saw a five-star review. In that case, the brands PR efforts helped get you ready to receive the marketing message.
While marketing is working to promote the company’s products, proving value and driving revenue, PR is striving to improve the company’s general reputation. Many of the tools used to achieve these objectives are used by both functions. PR uses social media, for example, to reach influencers, develop a thought leadership position, and amplify owned and earned content. Marketing uses it to broadcast product information and promotions. Review sites are used by PR pros to protect and enhance the brand’s reputation, while marketers use them as proof points for potential buyers.
All but the very biggest brands focus their marketing efforts and spend on people who are likely to become customers and buy soon. Therefore, marketers take a very narrow approach and try to get the right eyeballs at the right time. Paid search is the classic example. It makes sense to pay for the attention of people who are searching for a product or service like yours. On the other hand, PR pros must think beyond just buyers to the larger landscape. They also need to build brand credibility with the media, analysts, investors, potential employees, current customers and future prospects. PR is uniquely positioned to reach this wide audience because there isn’t a direct cost associated with earned and much owned media.
Because there is such overlap in the tools used by marketers and PR pros, and because our goals are ultimately the same – we all want to grow revenue and increase profits – it is essential that marketing and PR teams work together. In a well-coordinated joint campaign, the PR team introduces messages via the media and the brand’s own channels that will make it more likely the audience will respond when marketing begins more direct product promotion.
It is important to think about the role of each function, whether you are a PR/Marketing team of one or you have big departments working on both. Brands that use agencies for either PR or Marketing (or both) should ensure that they work together to increase the effectiveness and power of each.