Public Relations vs. Marketing; Earned Media vs. Paid Advertising
Whether it’s public relations or paid advertising that you’re employing for promotional purposes, the goal remains the same, brand reputation! The strategies used to achieve this goal, however, differ.
The good news is that you don’t need to choose between the two when launching a given PR campaign. In fact, you’re encouraged to do both, for they’re both equally effective in their own right.
With that said, let’s explore the differences between the two, specifically as it pertains to earned media and paid advertising. But first, let’s take a higher-level look at the difference between PR and Marketing.
Public Relations vs Marketing
Often synonymous with one another, public relations and marketing efforts are quite similar, not merely because they share the same or similar business goals and objectives.
With that said, when you take a closer look at the two, they differ in a variety of ways, inclusive of the skills required, the goals achieved, the duration it takes to realize said goals, and the corresponding target markets of each.
Today’s marketing tactics typically involve digital strategies, paid advertising, social media, and content marketing.
Though PR may share similar skills in some respects, specialists often hold fewer digital skills and more direct communication and relationship-building skills that marketing professionals may not hold to the same degree.
As mentioned, both departments are typically tasked, whether directly or indirectly, to increase brand awareness. The difference lies with the end result. In other words, marketing typically results in an increase in sales, or at the very least holds that aim.
Public relations, on the other hand, has the primary aim of upholding brand reputation and image.
Duration of Campaign
The duration of the campaign, whether it pertains to PR or marketing, depends greatly on the outlook or destination being pursued. While marketing campaigns can range in duration from short-term to long-term, PR campaigns tend to focus solely on long-term outcomes.
For example, a given paid advertising campaign may run days or weeks at a time. Contrastingly, an SEO campaign may run for months or years before reaching its goal of rank.
Contrastingly, because PR is solely concerned with brand reputation, the upholding of such a reputation is likely to last for the lifecycle of said brand or business, sharing no commonalities with marketing short-term goals.
Finally, PR and marketing differ greatly when it comes to target markets. While marketing professionals seek to target direct-to-consumer to encourage them to convert to purchase, PR specialists seek to target those who may have an interest in the product or business at large. These individuals range from investors to journalists.
With that said, PR specialists may, at times, target consumers directly. They aren’t, however, the usual target as they are for marketers alike.
Ultimately, the distinguishing factor between PR and marketing is the desire for sales. While both concern themselves with awareness and reputation, PR is much more intimately responsible for such, while marketing is primarily tasked with direct sales.
Tying It Together
Often said to be the most effective PR tactic available, earned media strategies boast the primary aim of boosting conversions via word-of-mouth marketing and other organic means.
Though the most effective, however, it’s often presented to be among the most difficult; hence the title “earned”. The reason for the level of difficulty is that results, unlike paid media, don’t happen overnight. Instead, it takes consistent and intelligent effort to establish any recognizable results.
So, what is earned media, exactly? Examples include product reviews, product features, voluntary testimonials, earned mentions from industry-leading newsletters, and satisfactory rankings in search engines like Google.
Similar to marketing, earned media uses PR to generate qualified leads, build brand awareness, and boost conversion rates that ultimately lead to paying consumers.
Unlike organic content shared through your own channels at no expense besides time, paid advertising involves paying for your promotional content to be shared in front of relevant and interested eyes (i.e. your target audience).
Whether via social media ads, influencer marketing partnerships, or PPC advertising, paid media strategies are standard practices, both in digital marketing efforts, public relations, or otherwise.
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