Why Can’t PR and Marketing Just Get Along?


Question: Which of the following are marketing goals? Which are PR goals?

  • Generate leads and sales

  • Promote positive perceptions

  • Build a brand

  • Counter negative influences

  • Achieve media coverage

  • Increase followers on relevant social media channels

Sorry, trick question. These days, the lines between marketing and PR are blurred. Gone are the days when public relations worked in its own bubble (often outside the company) and focused on media coverage. And good luck to any marketing team today that fails to keep in constant communication with their PR team when creating a marketing strategy and implementation plan.

This includes, above all, knowing your audience and staying true to the values being promoted. Look no further than the disastrous ad released a couple of years ago by Pepsi. The video starred Kendall Jenner as a poster girl for solving social injustice (wow, there is just so much wrong with that statement!).

From a PR perspective, Pepsi was trying to promote a message of unity, peace and understanding. But from a marketing perspective, the choice of Jenner as an “influencer”, and the way the creative was put together was totally wrong. Neither PR or Marketing were attuned to their audience. As a result, the audience perceived the message insincere and offensive (and they were right!) The ad was pulled immediately but the damage was done—not the finest hour for PR and marketing.

Working together benefits everyone

PR and marketing strategies need to complement one another, and neither of these can be mutually exclusive. Both are responsible for holding up the brand image, which means both are ultimately responsible for sales. In fact, we believe that everyone should be focused on revenue. Simple. When there is a crisis that requires intervention, PR can’t fight it alone.  When a product is about to be launched, marketing needs those PR influencers to amplify the message.

  • PR generates original valuable content, which is “gold” to the marketing machine for use in social media, blogs, etc.

  • Marketing campaigns that include great ads can be combined with a PR blitz (e.g. think of all that PR generated around the Super Bowl ads)

  • PR’s reach means a wider range of influencers, leading to third party (free!) coverage.

  • Marketing’s focused understanding of audiences (and changes in audience behaviors) is critical for PR success, including who is chosen for endorsements!

The trend toward increased collaboration between marketing and PR is not going away. Most marketing professionals agree that the two will continue to be more aligned in the future - and if not, go forth at their peril (as one Pepsi executive likely mutters, “just remember that Pepsi ad – ug, don’t remind us!).

As a full-service B2B Marketing Agency in Toronto, we have a team that enables businesses to grow. Every marketing dollar is focused on attaining the largest return for each of our clients by ensuring that we match the right customer journey to your business.