What are the differences between public relations and marketing?

Those who aren’t directly involved in public relations (PR) or marketing, but are interested in how it might support their business, might wonder what the differences between marketing and PR are.

Marketing isn’t just PR, whereas PR is a form of marketing (among other marketing activities), so it simply wouldn’t be right to compare the two. Given PR falls under the category of marketing, listing the differences would be like detailing the differences between football and sport, or chocolate and food!

Public relations
Public relations is a form of marketing.

Essentially all marketing activities are intended to help businesses and brands be visible to their target audiences. As well as public relations, other marketing activities include advertising, digital marketing (e.g. social media, pay-per-click advertising, SEO, email newsletters, content marketing etc.), direct mail and promotions.

Public relations as a form of marketing can help businesses in the following ways:

  • To build awareness: the aim of PR, as with all marketing, is to build awareness around your business. What sets PR aside from other marketing disciplines are the activities and channels used as a means of building awareness. A PR professional or agency will use channels that act as some sort of third-party endorsement for the business, such as media outlets, influencers or speaker platforms.


  • To reach / grow a target audience: by building awareness / visibility around a business using the channels that are consumed by its target audience ultimately means it will reach who it wants to. This exposure means that it can grow its audience too (whether that’s a customer base or a group of people who need to be on the receiving end of a message).


  • To improve a business’s reputation: public relations activity to support a business can help to improve its reputation through what is communicated. A desired reputation can be engineered through the messaging used or the channels used to communicate.


  • To support SEO: digital PR (something that’s a specialism of ours at Radioactive PR) can increase traffic to a company’s website and boost SEO. This is done by ensuring that coverage is secured on high-ranking websites (e.g. national news outlets) that link through to our clients’ websites. Here’s an example of a PR for SEO story that achieved great results.


Want to know how our PR services can help you with your marketing? Drop us a line!