Prior to the interview that got me my first job in PR, I remember researching why PR was different from marketing and advertising.
I did a few hours of my own reading and thinking to get a grip on the comparisons, but it was when I was in the interview itself that the interviewer told me this old analogy: “Imagine you’re in a bar and see someone you like the look of … Advertising is you telling her you’re great in bed; marketing is getting your friend to tell her you’re great in bed; PR is getting her friend to tell her you’re great in bed.”
Somewhat crass though it is, this makes sense on a basic level, but I’ve been thinking about another definition.
For me, advertising is selling people stuff they didn’t know they needed or wanted; marketing is selling stuff to people that have the need or want, but aren’t sure which provider to buy it from; PR, on the hand, is about creating or shifting opinions about that stuff. Often, this resultant consumer desire to buy something happens without consciously knowing what gave you the urge.
There are more confusing ways of describing what we all do, but that doesn’t mean we should use them. The ever-increasing myriad of marketing options has only seemed to further confuse us all and it doesn’t help the majority of us when we are selling our services. It also doesn’t help when we are trying to structure internal teams in ways that produce the best ideas across departments.
What I’ve stated above is how I would describe PR in relation to advertising and marketing, to someone who doesn’t work in the industry. This leads on to an important point we should always consider: will people outside our media ghetto care about what we are creating?
Anyway, these are my views on defining ourselves and why it’s important. What are yours? Do you think clarity between the disciplines is important?
(Image courtesy of Christian Montone)