Hello again folks. Recently we were pondering that age-old question that we get asked, oh, only about 10 times each month. And you know what that means. Yup, a blog post! It may not be a direct question all the time but the crux of it is ‘what’s the difference between PR and marketing?’ And really, it’s a valid question. Public Relations – PR – is still a discipline which you can ask 20 people their understanding of, and every single one of them will give you a different answer.
So, here’s the lowdown…
Public relations, at its core, does what it says on the tin. It’s about communication with your audiences. The ‘public’ bit is a little outdated now because today, audiences are both external ‘the public’ and internal – your staff, your stakeholders and your franchisees. And it’s about communicating with these people in a meaningful way. A way that engages them and brings them along with you on whatever journey or with whatever idea you’re trying to convey. That is literally everything from buying a burger or a bottle of shampoo to buying a business and changing your life.
PR has come a long way since the ‘old days’. Luckily we’re not quite old enough to remember the beginning of the old days, but we definitely joined them mid way through! In said ‘old days’ the media relations part of PR was literally writing your press release on the back of a printed (a PRINTED) picture and posting it off to the journalist in question. Can you imagine? It’s best not to think too much about it.
Nowadays of course, news is instant and media channels number in their thousands. From print and online to radio, TV, podcasts, bloggers, vloggers and social media – it goes on and on. And that means your audiences are now in different places, consuming different types of content and messaging 24/7. So, it’s 2021. And now PR is about producing great content that resonates across multiple channels. And the media relations, which is what most people think of when they think about PR. We refer to it as ‘traditional media relations’ and it’s about building relationships with the right people at the right outlet for the right brand. And going to them with the right story, at the right time.
Sisters, not twins
PR and marketing, as disciplines, have never been so closely intertwined. Here at Rev, we always say they are sisters, not twins. You absolutely have to do both, it’s not a fight and neither works as well in isolation as the two combined.
The easiest way to think about differentiating them is that marketing is you banging your own drum. You’re telling people how great you are, how wonderful your product or service is. You’re placing adverts, you’re sending leaflets, you’re putting up billboards, you’re sending eshots and knocking on doors. It’s your message coming from your mouth. PR on the other hand is someone else saying how good your company, product or service is. It’s third-party validation, recommendation and social proof that you do what you say you do. It’s non salesy, factual storytelling that has been through a b*llsh*t gatekeeper – which is why it’s so powerful. The scenario for any franchisor here is that it is your marketing that will have gotten the initial interest, the lead. And then your PR – the validation, recommendation, the due diligence and the social proof – that will have led to people making the decision to invest. Your prospects go looking for proof that you do what you say you do. And that you don’t!
Trust and credibility
The power of PR is all about trust. Studies show that 78% of people trust peer recommendation, 62% trust editorial content such as newspaper articles and 60% trust consumer opinions posted online. OVER advertising. Why is that? It’s simple really. As savvy consumers, we understand when we are being sold to, and we don’t always like it. We know that when a brand buys an advert or engages an influencer to push their product in an ad, that they can pretty much say whatever they want within that space – how great they are, how life-changing this thing will be when you buy it. It’s their space and their sales message.
On the flip side, we are much more likely to trust those who we feel have nothing to gain financially for recommending a service or sharing their experiences with us. We understand that when a journalist writes an article, it’s neutral. When a radio show broadcasts an interview, it’s not sponsored. We get that sales messages are stripped out and we are being presented with facts and genuine opinions.
It’s powerful stuff. It’s PR.