PR or Marketing: Debunking The Differences

The line between public relations and marketing has blurred significantly in the last decade. The Internet has made small businesses think big and national corporations act at a local level. This evening of the playing field has been a good thing for businesses by and large, but tricky for marketers and public relations professionals to gain a foothold on exactly what their role is.

You, the consumer, might not have realized it but nowadays marketing and PR, who were once considered different, serve a similar function now more than ever. Here are three talking points between marketing and PR, their defined differences, and how those definitions have blended together in 2017.


  • Marketing promotes and advertises with the intention of creating direct sales.
  • PR is a tool for reputation management through media coverage.

In 2017, every message a company puts out—be it through social media, email marketing, TV advertising, etc. – is an extension of a company’s reputation. Inviting a user to engage is the end goal, and whether that means buying a product or reading information. This has become popularized through the concept of branding, or storytelling. Marketing and PR no longer need to exist as separate entities to have the same purpose.


  • Marketing reaches customers.
  • PR covers customers, media, employees and shareholders.

The way we collectively digest information has blended so much that a tweet carries the same weight as a press release. Even more so, a tweet can contain a press release. The phrase “The Medium is the Message” has never been truer as everyone now uses the same platform to deliver messages of all types. As a result, marketing & PR services serve basically the same audiences.

Believability of Message

  • Marketing is a paid, branded advertisement from a sponsor.
  • PR delivers a message through sources that are subconsciously recognized by consumers are more legitimate.

PR and Marketing’s definitions have collapsed into each other in recent years. Sponsored content passes off as real news nowadays. Conversely, an audience is wise enough to know that a message from a familiar face has been combed over by professionals before delivery. Call it a byproduct ‘fake news,’ if you want, but people everywhere are more skeptical than ever. So whether it’s Stephen Hawking or the Hamburger Helper Twitter account delivering a message, each carry an agenda to different people, and no one (or brand) is automatically trusted. So for better or worse, marketing & PR each deliver similarly believable messages to consumers.

Steerpoint is a full-service digital marketing agency with an in-house content staff, social media team and reputation management team. Let us help your business put its best foot forward online. Contact us today.