PR and marketing: you hear them in the same sentence so often, it’s easy to think of them as one and the same thing. And you’d be surprised how many people do confuse the two or aren’t really sure what comes under each umbrella.

In reality, they are significantly different and require very specific skills, strategies and approaches to get them right and achieve results for your business.

PR covers a multitude of channels these days. Everything from traditional print and broadcast to bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers. But in a nutshell (a pretty big one I grant you) let’s look at the basic difference between the two.

Here’s a good place to start: in a recent Neilson Consumer Trust Survey, 90% of consumers said that they trust peer recommendations compared to a staggering 14% who said they trust advertisements. Why is that?

Well, we’re very savvy consumers nowadays and we understand when we’re being sold to. When you see an advert, you know that the company has paid for that blank space and, therefore, can pretty much say what they like; how great they are, how much their products will change your life, how much money they can make/save you. And we take it with a pretty hefty pinch of salt. Because we understand that it’s marketing.

Here’s where PR comes in. That ‘peer recommendation’ that we seem to trust so much – it can be built up in the form of expert advice, third party endorsements and positive storytelling about you and your brand.

A journalist can smell a sales message from 100 paces (at least!) and trying to get one past them and into print, onto a news site or into any type of broadcast media is a futile exercise. They’re not there to sell for you. What they will do, is talk about interesting, valuable or entertaining content that’s of genuine interest to their audiences.

As consumers, be it looking for a franchise or any product or service, we’ve learnt to recognise advertising and sales message too. So, when we see, hear or read a story about a brand that’s been through a ‘gatekeeper’ like a journalist, an editor or a producer, we accept and trust the information more readily. It’s not always easy and it’s never guaranteed – because you’re not paying for the ‘blank space’, you’re pitching for it on merit – but it’s definitely worth it.

Now, one thing I must stress is you have to invest in marketing activities. You absolutely have to wave your flag, ring your bell and make some noise to get the wonderful, unique, exciting features and benefits of your product or service out there.

But you really should have other people doing it for you as well. Trusted, neutral third parties who have nothing to gain from telling your story other than the continued engagement of their own audiences. That’s the type of message we trust. That’s great PR.

PR and marketing both have very important roles to play in your business – whether for franchise recruitment or consumer purposes. And neither one will be as effective as both combined. Think of them as bed-fellows; sisters, not twins. You get the idea.

Most of you will have marketing activities running for your business but how can you make the most of them by combining them with PR activities too? Follow us on Twitter to keep an eye out for our regular expert advice blogs.

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