Marketing vs. PR vs. Advertising

Man talking with his hands with a computer open

This is our third time writing this blog on the age-old question, “what is the difference between marketing, public relations, and advertising?”

You guys sure know how to have a good time, I mean what an exciting topic. 

You can view our first take here (don’t judge the shitty blog graphic – we’ve grown).

Our second blog in 2019 on the topic caused an uproar among professors and professionals, as we indicated public relations and advertising fall under the marketing umbrella. Boy, the controversy. 

In this 2021 blog, we’re going to state – that’s right, state – they all fall under integrated communications. *Gasp*

Personally, we think the textbook definitions of PR, marketing, and advertising are a bunch of jargon compiled over 50 years ago that no one has bothered to update and leaves a lot to be desired. Read below and see what we mean.

Their definition: Public Relations as defined by the Public Relations Society of America: “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Our take: Since the dawn of the internet, public relations has come to encompass a lot more than a story in a publication. It now integrates social media, community relations, crisis communication, internal communications, employee engagement…essentially all things related to relationships. Whether that is relationships with your customers, stakeholders, employees, community or the media. 

Their definition: Advertising as defined by dictionaries everywhere is the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements.

Our take: You pay for it. Yeah, we simplified this a bit but basically nailed it.

Their definition: The American Marketing Association, defines marketing as: The activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Our definition: Marketing can be a little PR and a little advertising. It’s where those of you in school or professionals who’ve been doing this for a long, long time *cough Kim* get confused. It’s a product or services journey, from creation to purchase. Marketing is all about utilizing different tactics to get attention, get people to engage or to cultivate positive relationships for your brand. Tactic-wise, think email marketing, social media, product placement (music videos anyone?), research, etc.

What really matters: 


It is where all the f**king magic happens, forget all the textbook definitions and the buzzwords, integrated communications leverages everything – marketing, branding, design, public relations, digital, website, content, digital and more – and delivers results.

If you’re ready to experience the magic, you know where to find us.

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