What's the difference between marketing and public relations?

What's the difference between marketing and public relations?

I use a handy little utility called 103bees to see what search terms people are using to find this site.

As well as showing raw search terms, 103bees also shows the top questions that people are searching on each week. The top question every week is always the same:

What is the difference between marketing and PR?

I’ve posted about this before, but I think there’s probably a more succinct way of explaining the difference, without resorting to a list of different definitions for the two professions:

Marketing is about changing behaviour, while public relations is about keeping or changing reputations.

The two aims work together well. Changing behaviour is a lot easier if you have a reputation that’s consistent with that behaviour; indeed I’d say that your reputation is a pre-requisite to marketing.

Similarly what you do to change people’s or organisation’s behaviours does a lot to influence your reputation, even though that may not be the aim of the marketing activity itself.

Does this way of illustrating the difference between marketing and public relations stand up, or am I glossing over too many of the subtleties?

[tags]marketing, public+relations, definitions, 103bees[/tags]


I work as a fractional Chief Operating Officer (COO), consultant and advisor. I created the B3 framework® for company building and I also write a newsletter called Build for leaders who care about creating resilient and sustainable businesses.