The Intersection of Public Relations and Marketing in 2021 - The TypeBar


With most companies feeling the strain of COVID financially, the scope of many people’s jobs have broadened as their teams have become smaller. Being a PRo in 2020 was no easy feat. With the news cycle dominated by COVID-19 and social movements, finding press for brands or clients became more difficult than ever.

For marketers, it was no different. Focusing on tone of voice, taking a stance, and being actionable was the main attraction. Completely shifting and re-focusing marketing efforts to this “new normal” also meant changing the scope of their jobs and taking on more cross-industry.

In 2020, these roles were intertwined more than ever before. PR was focused on amplifying brand voice while marketing was focused on the specificities of what was being shared. For some, these roles merged to become one rather than two separate roles with separate responsibilities.

With companies having to shift and adjust to this “new normal”, the job descriptions of these two industries have become closer than ever. OnePitch Co-Founder, Jered Martin, posed this question on Twitter to hear if others felt the same way: Are PR and marketing becoming one in the same in 2021?

Are marketing and PR becoming one in the same? Cast your vote and share your response below.#prrequest — :call_me_hand: Jered Martin :call_me_hand: (@JmoMonk) February 2, 2021

Out of 486 votes, 60% said that PR and Marketing are not becoming one and the same, while 40% said that they are the same or that their duties overlap. Here’s what the experts said:

PR and Marketing overlap, but are not the same

Michelle Garrett, Freelance PR professional, believes that although different, marketing and PR professionals need to be in communication with each other consistently. Here’s how she explained it:

I view PR as a vital part of marketing – marketing, PR, advertising, social media, content teams should all be talking to each other. Silos hurt them all. — Michelle Garrett (@PRisUs) February 2, 2021

Betsey Emmonds, Public relations professor at Samford, said something similar:

A topic I spend a lot of brain energy on. They are not the same. They have distinct roles that overlap at times but serve much different management functions. — Betsy Emmons (@betsyemmons) February 2, 2021

In order for both departments to function seamlessly, there has to be a sense of understanding about how each plays into each other and pushes the other forward. For example, the content team needs to be in the loop with the marketing team in order to help promote and propel the placement you received. As Betsey stated, the functions of each role have completely different day-to-day tasks and duties; However, these duties are both necessary, and oftentimes overlap, in order to get the most out of each department and its successes. These teams work hand in hand, but still remain separate with separate duties.

PR and Marketing have always been one

Jared Meade, Founder of Rayne Strategy Group, is leaning into this syncing of responsibilities between PR and marketing. He says:

I believe that marketing should fall under the PR umbrella. So, IMHO, PR and marketing have always been one and the same. — Jared Meade, MPS, APR, CMPRCA (@Meadepr)February 2, 2021

Being that marketing amplifies brands, it makes sense to believe that marketing falls under PR. The power of PR is undoubtedly strong, but how brands amplify these PR wins is just as important. Marketers need to understand where to use these placements and interviews in order to get the most value out of PR efforts. Whether these PR wins are being used for potential acquisitions, sales funnels, or even customer retention, PR and marketing professionals need to be intertwined in order to get the job done.

Marketing is about selling, PR is about storytelling

With 60% of those surveyed saying that they don’t believe marketing and PR are becoming one, there was a trend within the “why” behind these answers. It was consistently said that marketing focuses on selling, while PR focuses on building stories through messaging. Tony Jones, freelance PR professional, said this:

I hear this discussion frequently. For me msrketing is about promoting goods, products, services, etc. (i.e. selling). PR is about messaging. As a jobseeker I’m forwarded positions with the Marketing Communications moniker. I create messaging but don’t sell anything. — Tony Jones (@tjcommunicator) February 2, 2021

Andy Turner, independent PR consultant, harped more on the customer-focused side of marketing:

No! Marketing is (or should be) about customer-centricity. PR involves all stakeholders, including customers. So they need to work closely but recognise this — Andy M Turner (@andymturner) February 2, 2021

Marketing has, and will always be, about the customer first. Every decision is focused around building relationships with the customers by identifying pain points and offering your brand/client as a solution. PR will always be about forming a narrative behind your ”why” for the decisions the company/client make. It can be focused on thought-leadership featuring a founder, the story behind a new product release, or even your company’s journey to acquisition. PR isn’t always focused on the customer, but is more so focused on the brand, company, or client as a whole.

As the roles of these two departments are becoming closer than ever, there’s no denying that the responsibilities of each will still remain vastly different. It’s imperative that these departments are aligned in order to create a strong brand all together. Marketers are there to help PR professionals amplify their brand successes, while PR professionals are there to create a story around the brand as a whole to create buzz and awareness. One can be successful on its own, but they work better when they’re aligned strongly together.

Looking for tips & tricks on how to effectively align PR and marketing to boost sales and awareness? From defining organizational goals to understanding your target audience, there’s no one size fits all approach. You have to understand you organization and where PR and marketing align. From there, you can join your efforts to create stronger systems and strategies among the two.

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