Marketing vs PR: Key Differences and 10 Career Options

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 2 September 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organisations use marketing and public relations (PR) activities to promote their brands and build their reputations. While marketing and PR strategies have the same aim of portraying a positive brand image, there are several key differences between the two fields. The job descriptions of a marketing role versus a PR role may involve some of the same skills, but professionals utilise them in different ways. In this article, we discuss what marketing and public relations involve, the differences between marketing vs PR and what career options are available in each field.

Marketing vs PR

Knowing the difference between marketing vs PR is important. There is an enormous range of organisations, some of whom may need to prioritise marketing over PR, or vice versa. Knowing how they work together and complement each other leads to successfully improving your company's image and business development.

What is marketing?

Marketing describes a strategic process businesses and organisations go through. They use marketing to identify, research and meet the needs of their target customer base of consumers and/or other organisations to generate profit. To attract new customers and generate repeat purchases from existing customers, a marketing plan includes many different activities, including content marketing and digital advertising, to promote the organisation's products and services. A marketing plan typically includes the following activities:

Market research and analysis

Market analysis is the first step of a marketing plan, and the practice helps organisations and brands evaluate different market factors that can affect their position in the market and revenue generation strategy. Market research may include the evaluation of a competitor's market position and pricing at both individual organisations and the industry average level. The results and data from the research assist with allocating marketing budgets and preferable activities when promoting the organisation's products and services.

Advertising and promotions

Marketing plans tend to involve a large element of advertising to help organisations reach their target market. Marketers achieve their plans via paid advertising or promotion strategies that can include the use of print and digital media. Paid-for advertising and promotion outlets can include TV, newspapers, magazines, social media, billboards, websites and search engines.

Related: 7 Interview Questions for Marketing Roles

Public relations and brand building

While a marketing plan can involve a public relations strategy, such as distributing press releases and organising events, it's not a marketing department's core activity. A PR strategy usually excludes paid-for advertising. Instead, it focuses on utilising a variety of promotional methods to raise awareness and build the reputation of a brand or organisation in the public eye.

Sales and customer relations

Paying attention to the customer experience is a key part of any marketing plan. A marketing plan usually involves reviewing and improving the pre and post-sale customer relations process to optimise all sales opportunities. It's critically important that the customer has a positive experience and shares their positive experience with others.

Related: What is marketing? Definition, strategies and goals

What is PR?

You likely know PR as a discipline that is primarily occupied with the management of reputation and influencing public or customer opinion and behaviour. A PR strategy is an attempt to generate and maintain goodwill between an organisation and its target audience. Companies use PR as one aspect of a marketing process or as a single strategy, with the goal of generating positive publicity and goodwill through external or internal influencing and communications.

A PR strategy can involve press releases, announcements, sponsorship and public or private events to raise awareness of a new service or product range. PR can also involve crisis management. PR professionals do this in response to any damage to the public or customer perception of the organisation or brand, aiming to restore and improve the brand or organisation's reputation.

Related: What Is Public Relations? (Plus PR Strategies and Tips)

What's the difference between marketing and PR?

Although PR is a component of marketing, there are key differences that set these disciplines apart:

Sales vs brand reputation

The primary aim of marketing for profit-driven organisations is to attract new customers and increase sales. In public relations, the primary purpose is to build a positive brand and enhance the reputation of the organisation. These two factors work together but are clearly distinct.

Strategy development

A core part of a marketing strategy involves devising an advertising budget that helps to meet the aims and objectives of the marketing plan. Public relations focuses on developing a strategy for building brand reputation and influencing the target audience. These strategies both include specific actions that aim to raise awareness of an organisation.

Related: What Are Public Relations Skills? A Complete Guide

Action plans

Every marketing and PR strategy includes an action plan, which outlines various activities that need to take place to reach the aims and objectives of the overall marketing or PR strategy. Marketing plans and PR action plans are different, as a marketing action plan can include elements of paid-for advertising and public relations. A PR action plan typically doesn't include paid-for advertising as part of the PR strategy, with the exception of paid-for sponsorship opportunities.

The action plan elements of a marketing strategy are likely to include paid-for digital and print advertising, paid-for sales promotions, public relations activities and improvements to the customer sales and service process. A public relations action plan may include product launch events, company announcements, press releases or sponsorships to build a positive brand reputation. Marketing plans have clearer measurable elements, while PR plans are often more conceptual.

Related: How To Write an Action Plan To Help You Achieve Your Goals

What marketing job roles are available?

The following career options are suitable if you're interested in starting a career in marketing:

Marketing Coordinator

National average salary: £26,355 per year

Primary duties: Marketing coordinators have an extremely varied role, which primarily involves supporting a marketing manager or senior manager. They support the implementation of marketing strategies and campaigns. A marketing coordinator can provide administrative support, monitoring and reporting of sales and marketing analytics, competitor research, event support and website/social media updates, amongst other duties.

Related: What does a marketing coordinator do? (Duties and skills)

Marketing specialist

National average salary: £28,780 per year

Primary duties: A marketing specialist role encompasses a broad range of tasks, which may vary depending on the organisation. The role is likely to involve a large emphasis on market, competitor and customer research, data analysis and pricing strategy to provide specialist expertise in the planning of marketing and promotional strategy.

Related: What is a marketing specialist? A comprehensive guide

Content marketer

National average salary: £29,940 per year

Primary duties: A content marketer is responsible for the strategic planning and creation of original content that engages an organisation's target demographic. They do this with the aim of raising awareness of the products and services available. The content created is usually SEO-optimised as part of a viral marketing strategy and can include blogs, articles, podcasts, videos, social media posts, reports and white papers.

Related: 9 Essential Content Writer Skills (With Useful Tips)

Social media manager

National average salary: £33,136 per year

Primary duties: The purpose of a social media manager is to manage an organisation's social media strategy with the aim of improving the brand or organisation's social media presence and facilitating positive customer engagement. Duties include managing a content posting schedule, monitoring usage and engagement statistics, facilitating audience engagement and managing themed campaigns.

Related: How To Become a Social Media Manager: A Step-by-Step Guide

Marketing project manager

National average salary: £39,297 per year

Primary duties: A project manager specialising in marketing coordinates and delivers specific marketing plans to help an organisation meet its marketing goals. A project manager can be an employee or a self-employed contractor. They have responsibility for ensuring marketing projects run to schedule and delivering those projects on time and within budget.

Related: What does a marketing project manager do? (With skills)

What PR job roles are available?

A career in PR offers several opportunities and the potential to transfer into a marketing-related position after you have gained transferable skills or relevant experience. Below are some examples of the roles available in PR:

Public relations assistant

National average salary: £24,390 per year

Primary duties: A public relations assistant helps with the coordination of an organisation's PR strategy. Duties can vary but can include drafting press releases, web copy and social media posts. They also assist with email marketing, events coordination and media liaison.

Related: How to get into PR (with helpful steps and useful tips)

PR specialist

National average salary: £31,464 per year

Primary duties: A public relations (PR) specialist manages an organisation's PR strategy with the aim of protecting and enhancing the public image or brand of an organisation. The role of a PR specialist varies from organisation to organisation, so it may include:

  • press release and newsletter writing

  • media liaison

  • speech writing and editing

  • arranging press launches

  • news conferences and exhibitions

  • social media monitoring

Related: How to become a public relations specialist in 6 steps

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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