Where Does PR fit into the Marketing Mix?


Rebecca Ingram, Professional & Financial Services

Where Does PR fit into the Marketing Mix?

It used to be that marketing and Public Relations were considered separate disciplines. However, this is no longer the case.

“Make your marketing so useful, people would pay for it.” Jay Baer

If we agree that the general definition of marketing is considered to be everything that companies do to make sure that their products or services are bought or used by their target audiences - the link between the supplier and the consumer - then the ‘marketing’ label includes everything from adverts, press releases, placed articles, advertorials, infographics and visuals, case studies, brochures, and countless other ways that companies can utilise and choose to communicate to and with their customers.

Before the internet was omnipresent and before the idea of potential consumers searching for a product or company online was commonplace, or even inevitable, the main disciplines of advertising and PR were distinctly separate. They worked separately and occasionally came together for a particular campaign, but generally everybody knew where they stood.

This made sense as, fundamentally, the end goal of marketing and PR is slightly different. Marketing is focused on short-term results and on selling a product or a service to consumers. PR aims to build awareness of and a reputation for a company over a longer time period.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth  Godin

With the onset of the digital age, and more recently the rapid rise of social media use, PR has become ever-more integrated into the marketing mix. The purpose of PR is no longer distinct from marketing (and advertising) but is inherently part of it; it makes sure that advertising campaigns can have the best possible effect. In short, PR ensures that marketing works. Marketing is not just advertising, it really needs the added assistance of well-run PR campaigns to make the most of it.

Now the dynamics have changed, there is far more interdependence between everything that falls under the ‘marketing’ umbrella. The elements have the same end goal: to connect the company’s ideal consumer with the product they are putting out. Tom Fishburne (the Marketoonist: pioneer of marketing cartoons) said:

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing”

This is where the separate components have to pull their weight.

This is also especially important when building relationships and growing awareness of a brand. PR is now far more focused on creating a two-way dialogue in order to build a relationship. Traditional communication alone has fallen by the wayside, and the importance of digital and social media is only going to continue to grow. However, so is consumers’ sense for what is real; they are savvy and can see straight through PR campaigns which are only intended to be used as short-term marketing initiatives.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Ultimately, everything has to work together. PR has to work towards its own goal - building a reputation - but without forgetting the company’s short-term marketing objectives. Advertising has to be persuasive, PR has to build relationships, and both have to do so together. PR is no longer a standalone function but rather an integral part of the marketing mix.