It’s always a lengthy, complicated discussion when I try to explain that although public relations, marketing, and advertising can overlap in many ways, they are in no way the same. They’re essentially three different vehicles taking you to the same destination, but on different paths.
It’s important to understand the difference between these three ideas and how they function because if you don’t, you’ll end up developing ineffective strategies that aren’t working for your business, and you’ll be sitting there confused wondering why.
As a small business owner, every dollar and resource we invest is valuable, so we don’t have time to waste them on a simple misundersanding. I’m here to break down exactly what the differences are between public relations, advertising, and marketing and how they each can play an essential function in growing your business.
What are the essential functions of public relations, marketing, and advertising?
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You cannot build a strong communication strategy for your business without starting here! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The distinction between advertising, public relations, and marketing can be so confusing. In preparation for my IG Live with @socialee_media tomorrow (4/9) at 3 PM PT/6PM ET where we'll be discussing all things P.R. & Marketing strategy, I'm sharing this fundamental guide to set the record straight!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As more small business owners are grinding to make their brands more visible among their target audience, it's so important that we understand the role that each one plays so that we can use them to our advantage! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When it comes to advertising, its all about that $$$$ — you have to pay to play. BUT it's worth the investment, because it's the most direct way to attract consumers & make a sale. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As far as Public Relations, it's all about REPUTATION! P.R. does NOT convert directly into sales, but it's the 🔌that will help you gain credibility & authority in your industry — and that's priceless!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Marketing is all about CREATING DEMAND. As a new small business owner, you can master #DIYMarketing at a relatively low cost with the right tools. BUT don't expect sales to start rolling in as soon as you start marketing; on average it takes about 7 times for someone to interact with your content before they will make a decision whether they want to make a purchase. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What's the biggest roadblock that you are currently having in your advertising, P.R., or marketing strategy? Let me know and I'd be happy to help + tune in to my live with @socialee_media tomorrow where we'll be getting it all 💕
- Public Relations is relationship & reputation management. It’s primary forms of messaging include press coverage, featured interviews, events, strategic partnerships, etc. Public relations does NOT convert directly into sales, but it’s the key to gaining credibility & authority in your industry — and that’s priceless! Public relations is EARNED , but there is a cost associated with hiring a Public Relations Consultant who knows how to navigate the industry. Public Relations is a big picture strategy, but it plays a huge role in building a brand legacy that goes far beyond how many immediate sales you generate.
- Marketing is creating demand and interest for your branded materials and content including brochures, flyers, social media, newsletters, podcasts, and any other channel that is owned by your brand. It’s all about finding creative ways to release content that connects with and captures the attention of your audience, eventually converting them into consumers. As a new small business owner, you can master #DIYMarketing at a relatively low cost with the right tools. BUT don’t expect sales to start rolling in right away; on average it takes 7 positive interactions with your brand before customers make a purchase.
- Advertising is straight up selling goods and services by promoting to mass audiences using paid ad placements. When it comes to advertising, its all about that $$$$ — you have to pay to play. BUT it’s worth the investment, because it’s the quickest & most direct way to attract consumers & make a sale.
And BOOM, there you have it: the fundamental differences between Public Relations, Advertising, & Marketing!
So NOW that we got THAT out of the way, it’s time to debunk some common myths about each.
What are some common Public Relations and Marketing myths?
Myth 1: Getting press coverage immediately leads to your brand becoming popular and getting massive sales
The intention of P.R. should never be to boost sales.
The intention, rather, should be to build a good brand reputation and brand trust among not just your key audience but key stakeholders & thought leaders in your industry.
Also, to be clear, Marketing & advertising isn’t a quick fix either. It takes time to build an audience and figure out the right equation that’s gonna create demand for what you have to offer. All in all, the biggest takeaway should be that whatever approach you take will require time and effort before you see significant returns.
Myth #2: Marketing or P.R. is FREE
You can try to do as much marketing and P.R. as you can for the low, but good P.R. & Marketing will never be 100% free. There is always an investment required to achieve desirable results — whether that means paying for a professional to do it for you or paying for the tools you need to do it yourself. It’s an investment just like every other part of your business. If you haven’t done so already, I’d highly recommend that you take another look at your business budget and make some adjustments so that you have a healthy budget for advertising and marketing. Public Relations can wait to become a part of your strategy later down the line once you’ve perfected these two arenas.
Myth #3: Advertising is Expensive
Advertising is definitely an investment, but it doesn’t have to be expensive — at least not anymore. Once upon a time, the only options for advertising included billboards, radio ads, and ads in newspapers and magazines — all of which were only accessible to massive companies with major marketing budgets. But now, there are so many digital resources, such as Facebook ads for example, that make it possible for you to advertise based on the budget that makes sense for you.
You don’t have to spend obscene amounts of money on advertising when you’re just starting out. In fact, it isn’t a good idea to invest a ton until you’ve tried a few things, studied what works with your audience, and really put together a campaign that is likely to bring you the best returns.
Remember: Advertising is like buying stocks — there are NO guarantees that you’ll get your money back. But you will get more exposure. And as a small brand, that alone is worth investing in so you can turn that exposure into an engaged audience of loyal customers.
SO now that we’ve cleared the air, how are you feeling?! Do you have a clearer understanding of how each of these concepts functions in your business? Use this as a guide to start building out your growth strategy, share this with a fellow boss babe you know, and leave any comments you have below.