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What comes first: marketing or PR?

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

For people to buy from you, they need to know you, like you and trust you. That’s where marketing and PR come in. But which one does your business need? And when should you start?

PR and marketing go hand in hand – but the ultimate goal and reason for each are different.

Sometimes, you need marketing. Others, you need public relations. Most times, you need both. Let's dig into what the difference between marketing and PR is and how to decide what you need.

What is the difference between PR and marketing?

Public relations is the maintenance of a company’s reputation and public image through positive media coverage. Marketing is the act of promoting products or services to the general public.

If it were that simple, this article would not be needed. In reality, the line is much more blurred: public relations actually fits within the marketing category, and they depend on each other.

Think about it this way: let’s say you create a social media campaign. You reach a lot of potential customers that even go to your website to check it out. Your marketing strategy was successful.

But then, these potential customers decide to research the company before making a purchase. They don’t find any articles mentioning your name. What they do find is a competitor with plenty of media coverage, so they go with them. Why? No public relations.

What should I invest in first, marketing or PR?

What should I invest in first, marketing or PR?

The first thing you need is basic marketing. This doesn’t mean having a big social media presence or a weekly newsletter - that can wait. What you need is a quality website.

Your website is the core of your digital presence. It’s how your customers find you, learn more, explore your offerings, and contact you.

But a common problem we see with tech companies’ websites is the inability to translate complex topics into engaging content. How do you explain quantum computing to the average reader without losing the magic?

We once had a client that was in the raw materials industry. Their language was very scientific and would have been difficult for the average person to understand.

If their audience consisted solely of industry experts, that would be fine.

But your website is not just for your fellow peers that are in the know. Journalists, investors, and other stakeholders may visit your website to learn more -- and if they can't understand it, they won't stick around.

Before you start reaching out to reporters, make sure your basic marketing messaging can be understood by the average reader – which will soon include the media.

Test out your website content on someone outside of your industry. Can they understand your mission (without Googling every second word)?

How soon can I start marketing and PR?

“So all I need is a website, then I can start PR?” Not really. A public relations professional’s job is to create engaging stories - but you need a story to tell.

One particular client of ours was eager to start getting media coverage. There was just one small hurdle: their product was still in development. When you have a great project on your hands, it’s only natural to be excited and ready to tell the world about it. But first, you need to ask yourself: what news can I actually share? What do I have to offer to the media?

We helped this client build their communications plan from the ground up while waiting for final product testing. A content calendar, social media strategy, and finally, PR for the launch.

Marketing is the fire. Public relations is the gasoline that you pour onto the fire.

How do marketing and PR work together?

What should I invest in first, marketing or PR?

Your marketing and public relations team are both working towards the same goal: to get your business’s message out there. For that to be successful, they need to work together.

Let’s say you’ve developed an online shopping app. You just added a feature to compare grocery store prices, and your PR efforts focus on that launch. But once reporters visit your website or social media, they find no mention or posts about it. Without more information or validation, how do you expect them to trust you? In this case, marketing and PR activities need to be aligned so that the same messaging can be seen across all channels.

We’re helping a fintech client with their marketing and public relations services. At one point, the PR associate noticed a rising trend in the media about one particular company’s stock drop. At the same time, the marketing lead quickly swooped in with website and social media content detailing the reasons that those stocks were falling.

Marketing and PR efforts can buttress one another. The more in sync these strategies are, the more cohesive your communications become. The right arm works with the left arm.

Can you have marketing without PR or vice versa? Technically, yes. Will it help your company get the attention it deserves? Most likely not.

Looking to build your brand and get media coverage? Let’s get started. Contact our tech marketing & PR agency.

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