Social Media and the Convergence of Marketing and PR
While marketing and public relations (PR) are commonly thought of in different terms, the popularity of social media has brought the two to work together in ways we didn’t think about before. Yes, they are similar practices, but they focus on different relationships.
We’d like to showcase how the two practices work together in this social media age. But before we start getting into those specifics, we need to understand what the commonly thought differences are.
Marketing VS PR
Though marketing and PR have often been thought of and treated like completely separate concepts, you may find it surprising to know there are not many concrete differences between the two.
Fortunately, influencer Heidi Cohen put together a list of quotes from marketing professionals to help us narrow down the differences. It seems that the main differences are:
a) what is being sold (specific products vs. a brand) and
b) who is being marketed to
The difference may be best summed up by these two quotes in Cohen’s piece from Judith Samuels of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. “Marketing is the overall mix of activities that you undertake to get your product or service to market — to actually purchase, use and evangelize.” She went on to define PR as “the set of activities, usually earned (but often triggered by a paid campaign), that are meant to drive the ‘top of the funnel’. Use of media — traditional and non-traditional — are optimized using key messages, delivered to the right markets, via engagement methods.”
“The brand prism” is a term used to encompass what gives an organization or company their specific reputation, image, and personality. The Ohio University blog lists physique, personality, culture, relationship, reflection, and self-image as the six key factors of the brand prism. Social media has changed the fourth aspect of the brand prism — relationship.
In the past, PR worked primarily to build a brand. It was the practice of getting the word out about a company or organization as a whole, what they were doing, and building an image that made people interested in buying their products. This was different than marketing, which was more directly focused on sales for individual products and was marketed directly to consumers. With the use of social media, you can more easily advertise and sell individual products in a way that promotes the things that make up the brand prism, but also keep your target market updated on what you’re doing (the kind of thing you’d traditionally promote through a PR campaign). Everything in an Instagram or Facebook post, from the physical advertisement to the usage of social cues (memes, emojis, commonly known internet jokes), promote a product with brand personality. It’s coming together just by convenience.
The Broadest Target Audience
We used to have to hit the target market on two fronts: news channels and advertising channels. But now, everyone’s on social media and the easiest way to communicate anything to them is through the same platform. The messages can be varied, but they will see it in the same place.
One way that social media is being used to get the word out about both brands and specific products is by working with influencers across Facebook and Instagram. They can promote a product with you or they can simply work with you and communicate to their fans why they trust you.
The best part of social media is not that everyone is using it, but it’s free. Advertising took more money in the past, and PR took more work. Now with the press of a button, you can share a product, campaign, or anything you want really, and reach a variety of people (and a higher amount of people) quickly and affordably.
What it really comes down to is that in the past, marketers and PR managers had to work on different formats. But with social media, they’re both working on things like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get their messages out. With the use of the same media platforms, they now have to work together and are becoming more and more one entity.
Arguably, there are a lot of benefits to this convergence of the two. For instance, a company may not need to have separate departments for the two anymore, which saves them money overall. Additionally, PR departments are becoming more involved in generating revenue, not just hype.
In the future, both departments may start working toward complete convergence. This can be achieved practically through the use of tools like SEO, Ad Viewability, and good content management. Because as we go forward in time, social media will continue to be used for product promotion as well as news releases.
Where do you see the future of PR and marketing heading?