A Beginner’s Guide To PR Versus Marketing
Posted by Ruth Graham

 

A Beginner’s Guide To PR Versus Marketing

PR versus marketing. This is a huge subject.  Books adorn the shelves on the intricacies of the two, but there is a definite crossover, especially since social media has allowed boundaries to be blurred.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PR AND MARKETING?

In essence – PR (Public Relations), is the interaction between the company/product/service being provided, and the public’s perception of it. In short – PR is about developing and maintaining relationships.

An example of how not to do it, was when Gerald Ratner described his company’s products (jewellery) as  ‘crap’. He spent the next 18 months trying to rectify this blunder, and was eventually fired. Despite his company dominating 50% of the high street at the time of the comment, shares plummeted, and he is still known for this one huge mistake. A big example of when PR goes very, very wrong!

Marketing is about ‘selling’ – shifting the product  or service – increasing an awareness and building a brand identity.

PR VERSUS MARKETING

The two are linked, which is why so many agencies deal with PR & Marketing as a dual offering, but as experienced professionals, we are often astounded at how little business people know about either arena. Our strong advice before launching a product or service is to speak to somebody who knows, and have a coherent plan together.  Without joined up thinking, forward planning and a real understanding of your market, you won’t succeed.

WHERE TO START?

With a clear head! Make lists and spreadsheets – whatever helps you get started. But the basic questions you need to ask before beginning are:

What is unique about my product? Does ‘the market’ really need it?

Or if it’s not needed – am I confident I can convince everyone that it will be?

Where is my audience for this product? Where do they go/what do they read/what social media channels are they likely to engage with? (In other words, what’s the best way to communicate with them)?

What is my budget? Be very clear about what you can afford to spend, or what your borrowing options are. If you were to lose it all tomorrow, could you continue life as you’d like to?

GETTING IN THE PROFESSIONALS

There are several areas here we’d recommend not skimping on:

Website. Unless you really, truly understand what you are doing (including coding, SEO, updating etc) – then call in a proper web designer. There are plenty of mid-range designers who won’t charge you thousands to do a site. They not only create more professional-looking sites, but will ensure they are coded correctly so that search engines can actually find you amongst your competitors. We highly recommend Midlands-based web designer David from www.idesign4U.co.uk

Copywriting: A copywriter is someone who provides ‘copy’ (words), in whatever form. From blogs to case studies through to business pages, articles, leaflets etc. If you are not a writer, if you don’t know how to provide succinct, relevant copy that really ‘sells’ you or your product, then get someone in! (Alternatively, your web designer may work with someone already who can provide this service).

PR: A good PR company is all about contacts. They have a database of press contacts, both local and national. They can arrange events and invite the ‘right’ people along, with (hopefully) press coverage as a result. They have contacts with copywriters, and photographers (essential for good people and product shots. A picture speaks a thousand words remember!)

They will be able to advise on improvements to your website, write your blogs, help you get an in-house magazine pulled together and deal with your social media. Things like Facebook/Twitter/Linked-In/Tumblr/Instagram. You won’t need all of them, but again, your company will advise on what is the most appropriate outlet for you.

Over the years I’ve organised  (and attended) exhibitions for our clients along the way, put on reception parties and garnered reams of free publicity as a result. It’s all about thinking creatively, supported strongly by a raft of experience and contacts.

Good luck with your next venture, and if you feel it’s all a bit daunting – you know where I am!