Blurred lines: Differentiating marketing and PR

Blurred lines: Differentiating marketing and PR

In a world where the lines between advertising, marketing and PR are becoming increasingly blurred, it’s little wonder that some business leaders struggle to see where one function ends and another begins. Add in the role played by social media and it’s easy to see why there’s so much confusion.

It’s a hotly debated topic. Should the boundaries be that clear cut? Does it really matter as long as the right result is achieved? It’s important though, to understand what PR does that marketing doesn’t, to achieve a comprehensive communication effort.

In simple terms, the fundamental differentiator between marketing and PR is the use of third party endorsement. To quote Jean-Louis Gassée “PR is getting someone else to say you’re good”.

You can’t simply churn out anything though and expect to get decent coverage. Good PR uses the journalistic principle of truth and a commitment to audiences to provide valuable, quality content.

So how can recruitment agencies create quality content to engage their audiences?

BlueSky’s Tracey Barrett sums it up: “It’s about what you know – not what you do!”

As a recruitment business, you’re sitting on a wealth of knowledge and data about your industry and areas of specialism. Why not use interesting statistics generated from your CRM to write a thought leadership piece and start a discussion on social media?

Adding your voice and industry knowledge to a debate is a great way to raise your profile. Using data from FOI requests, we highlighted large numbers of NHS trusts using “rogue” staffing agencies in a bid to overcome nursing shortages. This resulted in extensive coverage for one of our clients who we positioned as an ethical recruiter operating inside official frameworks. Within a few months they had secured 20 new contracts with trusts who previously had not been complying with NHS guidelines.

An example like that clearly demonstrates a return on investment from PR, where the outcome – coverage leading to new business – is at least as important as the output of number of press releases.

This is one area where historically, PR has struggled against marketing to make its case. The rather crude metric of AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) doesn’t necessarily measure the quality of the coverage. Poor coverage is still coverage, but no one ever took out an advert to say how bad they were!

While straight marketing, of course, has its place, in the age of the social media “echo chamber” and fake news, the value of true PR will continue to increase.

Contact us and find out how we can improve your agency’s PR.


CarlyAuthor: Carly Smith

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