“OH! You want to go into the PR field? So you’re learning to do market research and make advertisements, right?”
I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I heard this when I discussed my career aspirations with others in college. Even more surprising, I continue to hear similar comments from people when I tell them about my opportunity to intern for Obsidian Public Relations.
Although television shows about the creative communication process such as MadMen, The Pitch and Shark Tank have become mainstream, many people still struggle to understand the difference between marketing, advertising and public relations. Alas! I am writing this blog entry to set the record straight. Below are the technical definitions from each industry’s trade association, along with some colorful commentary, to help clarify all of this confusion.
American Marketing Association:
“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.”
As marketing is essentially the process of communicating the value of a product or service by the provider to the customer, it can be seen as the overarching umbrella of the creative communication process that public relations and advertising fall under. Not to say that it is more important, just that it has a wider scope by definition. Read further to see how advertising and public relations complement marketing.
American Association Of Advertising Board of Directors:
“The placement of announcements and persuasive messages in time or space purchased in any of the mass media by business firms, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and individuals who seek to inform and/ or persuade members of a particular target market or audience about their products, services, organizations, or ideas.”
The three main things to remember about advertising are it’s a persuasive, paid-formessage distributed through mass media. Marketing plans include advertising as a way to communicate their product or service’s value message through media such as billboards, television commercials, magazine ads and radio spots. You know that hauntingly catchy jingle you can’t get out of your head because you heard it during your drive to work? Yeah, that’s advertising.
Public Relations Society of America:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Public relations at its core is about creating and maintaining relationships. Who do you need to build a rapport with to help create awareness about your company, raise funds for a project or announce a big change in your organization? How should you communicate your message? Through a news release, live event or interactive social media campaign? Effectively and efficiently answering and acting on these questions is the essence of public relations.
In reality, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals do end up dabbling in each other’s industries on a regular basis because they are all forms of creative communication. Yet, it is courteous to acknowledge these professionals by their established field of work. After all, you wouldn’t assume all doctors practice the same kind of medicine or all lawyers practice the same kind of law.
“Oh! You want to go into the PR field?” Yeah, now you know exactly what that is.