Ending the Confusion Between Marketing, Advertising and PR

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There appears to be a high level of confusion on social media regarding marketing, advertising and PR. Unfortunately too much of it is from persons who, given their designations, should know better. I hope this helps in getting us all on the same page.

Kerin and Peterson (2012) remind us that the primary purpose of marketing is to, “Create long-term and mutually beneficial exchange relationships between an entity and its publics (individuals and organisations) with which it interacts.” In pursuit of this modern marketers seek to develop strategies for:

  • Product, service and brand management
  • Marketing channel and supply chain management
  • Pricing management
  • Integrated marketing communications management

Hooley et. al. (2012) speak of six marketing communications tools: advertising, public relations, sales promotions, personal selling, direct marketing, and sponsorship. Advertising is particularly effective at creating awareness while public relations can be more credible than advertising as it uses a third party. So both advertising and PR are communications tools that marketers employ as elements in an integrated mix.

Strategic marketers generally use three or more communication tools in tandem for best results. What happens when you use either advertisement or PR almost exclusively? Here are two examples from my native Jamaica.

A well-known university has an excellent PR manager who works her heart and does so many things right. But admissions are falling. And then there is the advertising manager who has an aggressive programme in print and electronic media and creates very high brand awareness, but brand preference is not commensurate. Of course I need not tell you that in neither case do they have a strategic marketing plan as their roadmap.

So both advertising and PR are very important communication tools, but they are subsets of the wider discipline of marketing.

Herman D. Alvaranga is marketing and sales strategist.


3 thoughts on “Ending the Confusion Between Marketing, Advertising and PR

  1. KPhillips says:

    I’m glad I read this. I am also at fault for lumping all portions of marketing together & not individualizing each area. I’ve always thought of advertising & PR as the same. However, it seems, although they use the same channels to reach targets they have totally different purposes. I see I need to break down all the aspects of marketing before I move forward. Thanks for the post.


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