The Differences Between Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising: A Look at Marketing

A repeated question business owners and leaders ask is "What is the difference between marketing, public relations (PR), and advertising?" On-going discussion continues even in the industry, recently with members of the International Association of Business Communicators.

Components of a successful integrated marketing strategy In simple terms, marketing belongs to the company. Marketing develops external messages and maintains ownership (it’s the company’s story). Marketing identifies and communicates with past, current and future customers/prospects to generate leads and drive sales. By definition, marketing includes: the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market; the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service; an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer. The fundamental elements of marketing include the four P’s: product, price, positioning and promotion.

Examples of traditional and social media, as well as online and offline marketing, include activities that promote a company’s products and services to specific market segments. A variety of different communication channels might be used, including advertising, newsletters, direct mail, Websites, industry-specific trade shows, Point-of-Sale, Twitter and Facebook.

A strategic mix and comprehensive marketing plan that includes both marketing and PR will deliver the most successful results. This concept is known as Integrated Marketing Communications, a term used to describe a holistic approach to ensure message and brand consistency to all stakeholders (both internal and external audiences).


This post is part of a three-part series by Christina Motley:

The Differences Between Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising:  A Look at Marketing
The Differences Between Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising:  A Look at Public Relations
The Differences Between Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising:  A Look at Advertising


Christina Motley is an award-winning marketing and communications professional, writer and consultant. You're invited to follow her on Twitter @christinamotley.

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  1. john fulton says:

    Christina: very nice article!

  2. This is a question I have asked myself in promoting my business. I look forward to the remaining segments.

  3. Thank you both for your comments!

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