That PR and Marketing Debate.

“Marketing is marketing, and PR is PR. Two different things. Right? And what we need now is some marketing. Not PR.”

My “friends” could not agree and asked me to be referee. Now, how do I correct the erring combatant without him losing face to his junior? After all he is a very senior executive whose business means much to me. But he isn’t correct. Let’s go back to basics.


By its simplest definition marketing is about identifying customers’ wants and needs and satisfying them at a profit. Having identified the want or need, you create a product or service whose value proposition you must communicate to your target market. This promotion is done via the integrated marketing communications mix. The diagram above (borrowed from Kerin et al) lists four elements in the mix, one of which is public relations.

You will notice that PR’s importance decreases steadily through the buying cycle. Indeed its primary value is its credibility which is highest when buyers are at the evaluation of options phase of the buying cycle, that is, still trying to make up their minds.

So back to that debate. Senior exec speaks of the (traditional) Ps of marketing, but seems to forget that Promotion is one of them, and that PR is not a discrete function. It is an element in the overall integrated marketing communications/promotions mix.

Maybe I need to inform senior executive privately, and be very tactful about it; for I want his business. And maybe that debate is none of this marketer’s business. Think I’ll claim the 5th. What say you?


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