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The differences between Public relations and marketing

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3521 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Public relations are a glamorous profession that requires the practitioners to meet up with media and the public. Public relations are usually associated with glamorous people such as politicians, musicians, actors and actress. This is because they utilized and need public relations because their jobs involved the media and the public a lot. They need to be publicized and to give a clean image to the media and public constantly all the time. Public relations professionals are the one who will makes sure that they get what they need.

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Marketing on the other hand are all about money and business. They care about the relationships that can only benefit them. But somehow recently, public relations and marketing has been associated a lot and some have confused their function. Some said that public relations and marketing are doing the same thing. This assignment is about differentiating public relations and marketing in hopes that the public relations professional and marketers will have better understandings on these two terms and can utilized them efficiently to enhance their organizations and work.

What is Public Relations?

Public relations can be defined as a field that concerns about maintaining and improving an organization public image. Public relations can also be defined as an intermediary between the organization that a public relation professional represents and the public. Doug Newson, Allan Scott and Judy Vanslyke Turk (1993) defined public relations as,

“…intermediary between the organization that he or she represents and all of that organization’s publics.”

Public relations provide services for an organization by helping them promotes the major purpose the organization exists in the public eyes. Public relations explain to the public on their organizations social objective and also what their organization provides to the public. This then give the public a better understanding on the organization which then creates trust.

In other words, public relation also deals with the organization needs to be recognized in the public eyes. Public relations make sure that the organization has a good reputation in public eyes. Should there be bad rumors on the organization, public relation department are the one who will eliminate the rumors. They also create awareness and likeable images of an organization with stories and articles found in relevant media outlets. This happens either by rating and commentary made by the media representatives or from articles and stories given by public relations professional to the media themselves. A food commentary on the newspapers and magazines can boost up the organizations name in the public eyes.

Public relations are about reputation. The rise and shine of an organization’s name depends on how good and skillful their public relations professional deals with rumors, problems as well as their steps in promoting the organization. Public relations are also public-orientated. Programs and policies made by public relations professionals are based on what the public want.

In order to get public attentions, public relations work a lot with media. Any press release, programs and latest agenda of the organization are constantly sent to the media. The media then helps promotes the organization by featuring an article. Besides that, public relations professionals also use media such as social networks and blogs to convey message to the public directly and also to monitor consumer’s satisfaction of using their product and services.

But public relations do not only work to benefit the organization. They also help the public by conveying public’s messages, needs and wants to the company. They closely monitor various kinds of media for commentary on the organization they are working for and also on the products or services that the organization has provided. Complaints and suggestion are given to the public relations professionals and they are the one who will tell the higher management about the problems faced by the public when using the organization’s product or services and also the suggestion given by the public to improve the organization.

For example, in 2008, Mars Lend company which supports in fight against breast cancer through its product Dove and M&M. For that purpose, they produce an all pink M&M and Dove chocolates for that purpose. They will donate at least a million dollars to Susan G. Komen for the Cure through the limited-edition pink chocolate candies.

Based on the example, public relations professionals are trying to tell the public that they do not only care about the profit that they gain by selling the limited edition type of chocolate candies, but they also cares about what is happening in the society and what they can do to help. By doing goodwill and charities services, an organization is able to improve and maintains its good image in public eyes.

This means that public relations work for both the company and the public. They work as the representatives of the organization to the public and also the representative of the public to the organization. They attend both the organization and public needs.

According to Allen H. Center and Patrick Jackson (1995),

” The focus of public relations is on behavior.”

They stated that public relations do not only maintain the status quo or change the way people feel or think about the organization but public relations should also promotes favorable behavior for the organization inside the public. Public relations should have the ability to make people do something or to prevent them to do something.

Public relations should change both the organization and public perception towards each other and maintains it. They should motivate a new behavior inside these two elements, reinforce the behavior and then modify any negative behavior that they had towards each other.

In example, an organization who dumps toxic waste in the river. For the organizations, it is to reduce the cost of waste disposal. Public relations should change the way the organization thinks by letting them know how the society feels about it and how that could affect the organization. Public relations professionals then create a new policy for the organization to reinforce the behavior and suggest new and economical ways of waste disposal.

What is Marketing?

“Marketing is the social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they want and need through creating, offering and exchanging products of value with others.” (Kotler, 1991)

In other words, marketing is an activity where an individual or organization creates and offers product and services based on identification of what the public wants and need. An exchange with the company will happen in order for the public to get what they want and need.

Marketing does not only create demands for the products and services offered by an individual or an organization, but they also attempts to regulate demands to match supply. Usually demands for commercial and industrial products and services have its own period where at first the demand rates were high and then the demand will slowly go down. A person and an organization will have to think on how to prevent this to happen or at least maintain the demand rate of their product and services. This is when marketing really works.

Creating in marketing field means that marketing is involved from the very beginning of the development of the products and services. This is because before a product and services is created, a marketer will do a research on the availability of other products and services, how often the products and services were used and the market value of the product and services. If the products and services are not available in the market, the marketer will find the reason why and the frequency of people who wants and need such products and services. When all these were done, then the product and service are created.

Although marketing is about satisfying customer’s wants and needs apart from their own organization wants and needs, both customer and organization do not exist without benefiting one another. A satisfied customer will buy an organization’s product or services if the product/services benefit them and the product and services have a good reputation and an organization satisfy the consumer by providing the best quality for their product/services so that the customer will use their product/services.

Marketing process does not exist alone. There are a lot of elements in an organization in order to create good marketing. Marketing involves activities such as product/service management, distribution, selling, marketing-information management, financing, pricing and services.

Product/ service management function in assisting in the design and development of the services. They make sure that the design on the products/services the organization is attractive and different from other organization’s product and the development of the product/ services will meet the needs of the consumer.

Distribution management determines the best technique and ways that the organization can use in order for the customers to be able to locate, obtain and use the products/services of the organization. Distribution is important because the easier a customer is able to locate and obtain the product, the higher the chances a product/service is used.

The selling team will sell the product/ service by direct and personal communications. A customer can go directly to them to buy the product/ service and they can obtain more information on the product/ service. The selling team should know everything there is to know about the product/ service so that they will not create doubts towards the product/ service that they are selling.

The marketing-information managements are the one who will obtain, manage and use the market information for the organization use. This information is used to improve decision making and the performance of market activities. Information such as the rise of oil prices are the example of information that they use. This information is valuable to the organization because they affect the product/service price and demand.

The financing team will budget the money use for marketing activities, obtain necessary funding and provides financial assisting to customer to assist them with purchasing the organization’s product and services. For example, in buying house, the financial department of housing company will suggest to the customers which bank that provides loans for buying house at that area.

Pricing activities aims to establish and communicate the value of products and services to the customers. They will calculate the cost of the product/ service development and calculate how much a customer will pay for such product and service. They then create a price that will satisfy both the organization and the customer.

Promotion team aims to communicate information to the public through advertising and other promotional technique to attract and encourage them to buy the organization’s products and services.

An organization, small or big needs marketing. Marketing can help an organization to gain customers for their own benefit. An organization has to present themselves to the public in order for their organization to be recognized. With marketing, an organization will gain customer faster. For example, a café. A café that has decorative walls with bright colors and cozy environment will more likely to have customer rather than a café that has dark and dull, plain walls with dirty floors and table.

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When customers are satisfied with the product, an organization is able to keep their customer. Their existing customer will always support them and buy or use their products or services. When they have existing customer, they can create various kind of products or services for the customer or they can improve their products and services according to a different type of target audience in order to attract new customer.

The Differences between Public Relations and Marketing

A lot of people are confused on the functions of public relations and marketing. Although public relations and marketing has their similarities such as utilizing social media, press release, article sites and social networking for promotional purposes, they utilized different types of substance and approach.

The confusion happens because marketing uses public relations as part of their strategy. Public relations are part of the 4P (Product, Price, Placing and Promotion) which create a powerful marketing strategy. Public relations are useful for marketing because using public relations, an organization may reduce the cost of promoting its product and services.

1. The target

The first major differences between these two fields are who their target is. Marketing focuses more on having a relationship with the customers, clients and channels that will benefit them while public relations focuses more on having a relationship with the public as a society.

“…marketing relationships depend on the premise that both parties in a relationship are willing to give benefits in order to receive comparable benefits in exchange.”(Grunig et al., 2002)

Marketing only focuses on their customers, clients and channels that would benefit their organization. As the saying goes, no money, no talk, marketing is profit-oriented. They will not establish a relationship with other organization or individual if it does not benefit them at all. For example, an established jeans company. They will create relationship with the manufacture of the cloth, zips and buttons. With a good relationship, the jeans company benefits by having a stable supply of cloths, zips and buttons. With that relationship, the company also can get discount for becoming the cloths, zips and button’s stable customer.

Marketing exist because there are a lot of similar products and services offered in the market and it is very competitive. Every organization in the market needs resources, funding and recognition to compete with each other. Without resources and funding, an organization cannot produce products and services that are more innovative than the other organization’s product and services and without recognition, the organization will gain no resources and funding because nobody has ever heard of the organization before.

Public relations on the other hand, have a wider target. Public relations, not only creates and maintains relationships between the organizations and the customers, but also towards the public, even those who has no direct line to the organization that they represent. The public could be the chief manager of the organization, the worker in the organization, the customer, government, the activist, reporters and a 15-year old student who is taking PMR this year.

“…parties provide benefits to each other because they care for others’ interests without expecting something in return.” (Ursula Ströh, 2007)

Public relations help organization to survive in the social environment by creating and maintaining the organization’s relationship with the society in order to change and develop society’s economy state. They help the society without thinking whether or not the public will help the organization back.

All public relations professionals want is that the organization gets a positive image out of the activity. That is what public relations are. They are all about creating and maintaining relationship with the public by showing the public the organization’s positive image. Public relations implicit goals are the public perceptions and predispositions.

2. The Communication Style

The second differences between marketing and public relations are the style of their communication. Marketing focuses on the signs and symbols used to present their identity, brand and image. According to Van Riel (1995), he argues that if the right messages are conveyed to the right audience, the organization’s identity will be transferred into their minds, leaving an image.

As for public relations,

“The field of public relations in turn emphasises behavioural relationships where the decision-making processes of management will determine the reputation of the organization

(Grunig et al.,2002).

Public relations believes that how the organization presents themselves to the public is what the people will remember and the degree of trust the public have on the organization is what determine the rise and fall of an organization. For example, the recent case of Air Asia plane that had skidded on Kuching International Airport. Until now, there have been no representatives from the Air Asia Company to explain the accident and how they are going to compensate the passengers inside the plane. This has makes the public lost their trust on Air Asia and had caused the public to choose other flight companies.

3. The Cost

Another difference that they have is the cost of generating each promotion. Marketing uses more money for their promotion. As it was stated in the definition of marketing earlier, marketing does not stand alone. They are a lot of people involved in producing a good marketing strategy. A lot of money is used to pay for this entire people. Besides that, advertisement space whether it is printed, online, in the television or radio, all comes with a high price. This sometimes causes small and local business unable to promote their business through the media.

Public relations however are only a small team of people. Paying these publicists will not cost an organization a fortune. For activities such as Breast Cancer Awareness, Cambodia Humanity Campaign or Japanese Earthquake Relieve, publicist come from all over the place to make this program happens voluntarily.

The cost of delivering public relations promotion strategy consumes less money and sometimes it is free. Public relations are concerns about how many times a person is reading an article about the company, how far can an individual reach their websites or contact number, how many stories are there out there on the organizations and how are they rating the organization they represent. Public relations use social networking sites such as Facebook, Blogspot and WordPress to promote their organization and these social networking sites are requires the users to pay nothing at all.

4. The Creative Control

Even though it seems that public relation is a better way to promote, marketing is the one with the creative juice. Marketing has full control on what goes out to the public. The design of the packages, campaigns, contest, promotion and the advertisement on the television all have to go through series of evaluation before going out to the public so that the public only gets the best from the organization. The result is superb and this creative theme that marketing brings is the one bringing all the profit back to the organization.

Public relations on the other hand, have no control on how the media presents the information that was given to them. Public relations can send a thousand articles to the media, highlighting the best points of the organizations and the media can choose to not publish even one of their articles. Even if they were chosen to be published, sometimes it does not fulfill what the organizations want them to emphasize.


Public relations is about creating and managing relationship between the organizations and the public while marketing is about creating and managing relationship with their those who can benefit them. Public relations care about the society without worrying if what they have done to the public will or will not benefit them. However, marketing will think about the cost that they made when having relationships with certain people. When they think that the other party will not benefit them even just a little, they will not waste their time on them.

There are a lot of characteristics that can differentiate between marketing and public relations. The characteristics are the target, the communication style, the cost and the creative cost. From the characteristics, we can tell if the method used is a public relations’ method or marketing method when doing promotion.

Everybody who are in this field, whether directly or indirectly involved with public relations and marketing should knows the differences between the two of this terms so that those involved can use either these two strategies effectively to enhance their organizations.


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