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January 8, 2020


Marketing and PR: What's the difference?

Torn paper reveals the words "marketing" and "public relations."

If you think that you'd enjoy a job where you create radical ideas to boost a business or organization's public appeal, then marketing and public relations are two business careers worth exploring.

Because they're so similar, telling marketing and PR apart can be a challenge. When you're able to differentiate between the industries, though, a world of careers opens up in each.

The differences between marketing and PR.

Think of public relations as a subset of marketing, as marketing covers a wide range of processes aimed at promoting businesses and organizations to the public. But while the goals of marketing and PR are promotional, there are key differences between the fields.

Further Reading: Is the MBA or the MSML right for me?

The American Marketing Association, for example, notes that 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." In other words, marketing is all about preparing to offer goods or services to the public, telling people about what you're offering, and getting it to them.

Public relations, on the other hand, has a more specific angle: to generate positive impressions of an organization. "At its core, public relations is about influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across numerous platforms in order to shape and frame the public perception of an organization," the Public Relations Society of America says.

Janet A. Krenn, communications co-chair of the New Professionals Section of the Public Relations Society of America, notes that because marketing and PR desire different outcomes, the ways the fields measure success are different, too. For marketing, where the aim is to increase sales, success is measured in profits. For public relations, the metric is how an organization is perceived.

Marketing jobs.

With the emergence of new media, technologies, and social media platforms, marketing has evolved to meet changing audience needs. Here are a few common roles in today's marketing landscape.

Market research analyst.

Market research analysts study sales trends, consumer demographics, competitors' activities, and other data to gain information to help organizations market their products and services. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research analysts forecast marketing and sales trends, evaluate the impact of marketing strategies, develop data collection methods, and generate reports.

Market research analyst is a great entry-level job for recent business school graduates. And it pays well, too—around $63,000 a year, on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Marketing manager.

Marketing managers identify potential markets, assess consumer demand, develop pricing strategies, and plan promotional campaigns, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They might also direct and analyze market research and hire members of the marketing staff.

Some marketing managers are solely in charge of these efforts for a small business or nonprofit organization, while others are responsible for the marketing departments within a single division of a major enterprise.

Marketing managers make a pretty penny for their expertise: recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the median salary for marketing managers around $134,000 a year.

Social media marketing manager.

Social media marketing managers oversee an organization's strategy for promoting its products and services on social media sites. Social media marketing managers direct the creation of content—such as blogs and posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—to build brand awareness and engage with current and potential customers. In some cases, they create this content themselves.

Social media has become a staple of almost every marketing strategy, and businesses everywhere need skilled social media marketing managers to oversee their social strategies. pegs the average salary for social media marketing managers at around $101,000 a year.

Public relations jobs.

Concerned with the public's perception of an organization, the PR department typically comprises several roles that analyze data, coordinate with media outlets, and advise leadership, such as the following.

Public relations specialist.

Public relations specialists are responsible for communicating an organization's message to the public. They may share information to consumers, investors, journalists, and other members of the media. Their day-to-day tasks often include writing press releases, responding to media information requests, arranging interviews with the organization's executives and subject matter experts, and writing speeches.

Public relations specialist is a great first step on the PR career ladder. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals make an average of $60,000 a year.

Public relations manager.

With experience, public relations specialists can get promoted to public relations manager. PR managers collaborate with other marketing professionals to ensure that all promotional campaigns are consistent with the organization's desired public image.

Because public relations managers have more leadership and management responsibilities, they make considerably more than junior employees—around $114,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Public information officer.

In government workplaces and major public institutions, such as hospitals and universities, PR professionals often hold the title of public information officers. Like private-sector public relations specialists and managers, public information officers write or oversee the writing of press releases, reply to media information requests, and set up press interviews.

Public information officers make around $63,000 a year, according to Glassdoor—not bad for a midlevel public sector position.

Further Reading: Common interview questions and how to answer them.

Marketing and PR offer business graduates exciting job opportunities with a chance to advance your career and earning potential. Could one of these fields be the right business career path for you?

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