Marketing, Advertising, PR - What is the difference?!

Feeling a little confused about what the heck the difference is between all those promotional buzzwords? Advertising, PR and Marketing all vary slightly and it's important to understand the difference, but also how they work together when you're coming up with a plan to get the word out there about your business. 



Let's start with my area of expertise - marketing! Technically, advertising and PR are both branches of marketing. The university definition that I was fed for three and a half years is that marketing consists of four 'p's:

1) Product - what is it that you're actually selling?! Is it a service or a tangible item. Marketers need to get clear on this from the get go. 

2) Price - this ties in with the products positioning and the promotion side of things too. Basically, the way you price your product can determine if it's high-end or as fast moving consumable good (e.g. a Chanel bag or paw paw cream). When it comes to marketing, determining your pricing needs to consider WAYYY more than just your margin and costs.

3) Position - Who is your niche? It has been said that if everyone is your customer then no one is. Think about it. If you're trying to appeal to absolutely everyone you'll have no raving fans! But if you only appeal to a specific niche such as seal trainers, you'll be the expert in your field and be able to target your audience a billion times more effectively. Which brings me to the final point...

4) Promotion - the HOW of marketing. After all the product, pricing and positioning research a good marketer will be able to target your niche so your product is seen by those who matter. 

So where do advertising and PR fit in?



Well, advertising comes in at step number 4 in the marketing process, promotion. The ground work has been done and information on how to reach your ideal customer has already been explored. You can't expect good results from advertising without first knowing the 4 p's inside out. 


Public relations used to conjure up images of Samantha from Sex and the City drinking a cocktail in Manhattan... reality is, it's a lot less glamorous. PR comes in a little earlier in the marketing process. It's all about how your product is positioned. What are people saying about you in the media? Do they even know you exist? How can we make sure they know you exist without paying for advertising space? PR can be a great 'free' marketing tool when used effectively.


As you can see marketing can cover a broad range of activities. The trick is to make sure you identify who your target customer is first and then find out where they hang out! Use a range of tools such a positioning, PR and advertising to make sure you get noticed.