A couple of people have made concerning remarks to me recently that were so uninformed that I want to set the record straight immediately.

In fact, these remarks have prodded me to be more aggressive in my mission to convince new business owners that a focus on PR, not marketing, is the correct way to put a new business on the map. Why?

  1. PR is more cost-effective for a new business
  2. PR builds brand awareness — exactly what you need right now
  3. PR finds, and capitalizes, on FREE ways to get exposure and establish trust

I don’t hate marketing — my MBA is in marketing. I’ve drawn more positioning maps and written more marketing plans than most. Marketing is wonderful and fun. What I generally object to is how today’s generation of marketers are either doing a turf grab on the PR function or neglecting to incorporate it into the strategy altogether because they don’t know what they don’t know.

I won’t argue that, in today’s environment, PR and marketing are engaged to be married. I resisted this for a long time. If PR needs to change her name, so be it. But her roles will be the same. The following table explains the differences:

“Content” falls under the PR umbrella, as does non-promotional social media. Anything you do to educate people (workshops, seminars and speaking gigs) is also PR. “Branding” is a partnership between marketing and PR… logo and graphic identity (which belongs to marketing, because it involves “package design”) plus getting the word out via non paid channels, which is PR.

You can’t lump everything under marketing, because marketing is SALES ONLY.

Entrepreneurs will do themselves a great service by learning about public relations BEFORE they jump into using budget-sapping marketing strategies. Building your brand comes first. Later, when you have some money, go ahead and buy advertising to sell your stuff.

Let’s debate. Bring it on!

This post is dedicated to my fellow brothers and sisters in the public relations profession. Please add to this any important distinctions I may have missed.