In the present times, it has become very hard to differentiate between marketing and public relations (PR) because of the emergence of social media that has blurred the gap between the two. However, marketing and PR are quite different from one another.

Marketing refers to the activities carried out to promote and sell the products and services of a company. On the other hand, PR refers to a communication process that is carried out between the company and the general public so as to create and maintain a positive image about the company.

In this article, we will discuss the definitions of marketing and PR in detail and explain the main differences between the two.

Definitions and explanations


Marketing refers to the different activities carried out by a company to promote and sell its products and services so as to acquire and retain customers. It is essentially the process that is carried out to make available the products or services of a company to the final consumers, starting from the product development stage and extending to the ultimate sales and post-sale support. Marketing is pertinent to the overall purchase process of the customer, including research, drawing customers, generating sales, providing after-sales services and making recommendations.

The objective of marketing is to create a product or service that fulfills a need in the market and to promote it in the market so as to ensure that customers buy the product. There are four essential components of a marketing mix, which are product, place, promotion and price. Product is the component pertaining to the research and development activities involved in the production of the product or development of service. Price is the money at which the product will be sold in the market and place is the location where the product will be made available. Finally, promotion includes market research and advertisement and is important to attract customers to your products and compel them to purchase your product from the different products available in the market.

Public relations

Traditionally, PR referred to the practice of making an individual or organization gain recognition in the media, i.e. print, television and radio. However, PR has evolved with time and has become a part of the marketing and communications plan of the company on the whole.

A company uses public relations to present the organization’s message to its various publics, which includes the current and potential customers, employees, distributors and suppliers, media personnel and journalists, social media networks as well as the government.

The objective of PR is to develop relationships with all of the stakeholders, and not just the existing and prospective customers. It makes it easier for the companies to market their products and maintain a favorable image about the company in the market.  Hence, PR is essentially the act of handling the information flow between a company and its public.

Differences between marketing and public relations (PR)

Difference between marketing and public relations (PR) is given below:

1. Meaning

Marketing refers to the various activities carried out for the production, promotion and delivery of products and services to customers. Public Relations, on the other hand, is the process of sustaining a positive image of the company in the market and looking after the flow of information between the company and the public.

2. Objective

The objective of marketing is to reach out to the customers and convince them to purchase their product or service. Hence, it can be said that the objective of marketing is to generate sales. On the other hand, while the objective of public relations is to develop trust about the company among all the stakeholders and to maintain a positive image and reputation of the company.

3. Focus

In marketing, the products and services being offered by the company are promoted. On the other hand, PR involves promoting the overall organization and its activities. In other words, marketing is product-focused, whereas PR is relationship-focused, as it concentrates on establishing good relationships between the company and its public.

4. Target market

Marketing activities are focused on just the current and prospective customers. PR activities, however, are focused on all the stakeholders of a company, i.e. the customers, employees, suppliers, distributors, government and the general public.

5. Legitimacy

People are usually of the view that the messages given by the company through marketing strategies are not very reliable as they are based on the company’s objective of increasing sales. People consider news delivered through PR channels like news articles, authentic bloggers, print media, etc., to be more reliable. Hence, they are more likely to believe messages delivered through PR platforms than through the marketing channels.

6. Duration

In general, marketing is a comparatively short term activity. However, the benefits provided by PR usually extend for a longer time period. The aim of marketing is to achieve immediate, tangible benefits through sales, while PR activities can be said to be a long term investment in that the company continues to reap its benefits in the future.

Marketing vs public relations – tabular comparison

A comparison of marketing and public relations in tabular form is given below:

Marketing vs Public relations
The activities carried out to promote and sell a product/service in the market The activities carried out to present  and maintain a favorable image of the company in the market
Generate sales Improve company image and reputation
Product focused Relationship-focused
Target market
Current and potential customers All the stakeholders of the company
Lower credibility Higher legitimacy and credibility
Short-term activity Long-term activity

Conclusion – marketing vs public relations (PR)

Marketing and PR are both very important for companies, because the ultimate goals of increasing sales and presenting a positive image of a company are related to each other. If a company’s products are not good, then it will be hard to maintain a favorable image of the company. In the same way, if people do not have positive views about a company, there are very less chances that they will actually buy your product. Therefore, having good marketing and PR strategies are critical for the growth of a company.