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Understanding public relations v. marketing

by Paula Anderson

Over the last eight years, I have been using my public relations and communication skills to write feature stories, create social media campaigns, compose news releases and annual reports. 

Public relations are about building relationships with key publics (target audience). It also involves conducting research using the Research, Action Planning, Communication and Evaluation (RACE) model. This is based on researching customers, creating communication messages and having an evaluation or metric system to measure sales, success and/or progress. 

Following are a few ways to focus on PR goals: 

  • Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timebound.)

  • Develop a 30-day content strategy campaign or 15-day social media campaign.

  • Feature story in a publication or newsletter.

  • Hire PR communications writer.

Social media is one of the communication channels to use public relations as a vehicle to reach potential customers. While social media platforms are free to use, reaching a wider audience will consist of advertising.

Marketing is designed to reach your customer, but it is not the same as PR. However, they are sometimes confused.  Identifying your target customer and making sure you are reaching them in the right place requires the same efforts in a PR campaign.  Before starting the marketing process - a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis should be conducted. Below are the elements of marketing: 

  • Product

  • Price 

  • Promotion

  • Placement 

  • People

  • Processes

  • Physical Evidence

An email campaign is a marketing tactic.  Sending emails to customers on a consistent basis keeps them engaged with your product or services.  Too many emails (spam) can turn off a customer. A strategy should be developed.  According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are specific guidelines for sending emails. 

To learn more about Public Relations, send email to

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