Public Relations vs. Marketing: Which is More Important?

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It’s something businesses struggle with constantly: do they focus on marketing or public relations? Is it more important to get the word out about the company, or is it better to try and talk to people directly?

In a perfect world, you’d be able to spend the same amount of energy on both marketing and public relations. However, sometimes that just isn’t the case, and you have to choose. So which is better? Let’s take a look at both.

Public Relations

I’ll start with public relations and start with the disclaimer that I’m slightly biased in this regard. I think when asked to choose, public relations will win every time. This is especially true if you are tight on cash but still need to get the word out about your company.

Public relations is all about going to where the people are and finding out what they want. In today’s world, that involves going online, and most places where folks frequent are totally free. This includes Facebook, Twitter, or even Skyping with clients. If you’re a new business on a tight budget, this can be a great and super cheap way of finding your audience.

Even better, public relations gives you the chance to really dig deep down and find out what your customers want. As you find this out, you can amend the rest of your company to better sell to them. Plus, people really love companies that listen to them. Everyone wants to be heard. Give them that satisfaction by employing some public relations and you may be surprised at the results.

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With all that said, there’s something about a well thought out marketing campaign. The Old Spice commercials are a great example. They’re really effective because they’re silly, fun, and make Old Spice seem like a young man’s thing again.

On top of that, it seems like every other product in the world is marketed by the same “silly” style of commercial. Dairy Queen is the main one I’ve noticed, but others have followed in the same goofy footsteps. Heck, a friend worked on a campaign where the client wanted the team to USE the “Old Spice man.” Needless to say, they weren’t too aware of copyright infringement.

Marketing doesn’t have to be super expensive, either. A little can go a long way, especially if you work on branding yourself. Again like Old Spice, they knew everyone thought they were just for “their old man.” With their new marketing campaign, they’ve successfully turned that around to where young folks have started buying it again.

And that’s the best kind of marketing campaign: one that changes customer’s minds, when they were so sure before.

Which do you think is more important: marketing or public relations?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases here:

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I think that there are many who would make the argument that one is more important than the other but in the long run since the two are so intertwined I think that ultimately they are both vital to any company.

A good PR campaign supports a well executed marketing campaign and sometimes vice versa. PR and Marketing is excellent on capitalizing customer attention and since the shift change recently of companies becoming more about producing content and education rather than selling directly (inbound vs. outbound marketing), it is even more important that marketing produces the content and PR gets the word out.


I think this is an interesting post, but I’m having a little trouble with the definitions of PR and marketing.

I like how PR here is being defined more broadly than traditional PR, which has more been about getting mentioned in the press. That said, in my experience, “finding out what your customers want” is usually defined as part of marketing, rather than PR.

Also, your definition of marketing seems confined to just “advertising,” which is just one piece of marketing.

Semantics aside, the important takeaways are that all of this can help, but it’s very important to have real conversations with real clients/customers.


Got to agree with Scott, you seem to be comparing PR to advertising. Marketing is far broader and in most recognized definitions would include PR.

For example, the AMA definition is “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” I suspect you would see PR playing a major role in that (and I would agree).

I do agree all good marketing, including PR, has become more about a conversation with your audience rather than just telling them how great your products are.


I agree with the above comments about semantics. That said, I completely agree with your take on PR. Social media has overtaken old-school PR and made it a much more powerful and dynamic tool than it used to be. The Internet has had the same effect on advertising, although to less of an extent.
The real convergence, in my mind, though, is content marketing. When marketing with a goal of finding out what your audience wants and needs to know then working hard to provide what they need in engaging and entertaining ways through quality content, you really get the maximum benefits of both marketing and PR in a way other methods can’t quite match.
Thanks again!


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