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  • Writer's pictureNat Sharp

How do marketing and PR work together?

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

Jessica Morgan

This month, I talk to Jessica Morgan Founder of 3-year-old PR agency, Carnsight Communications. She talks about the difference between marketing and PR and how small businesses can benefit from PR. With social customers, you can't silo them into neat boxes and decide if it is a PR or marketing lead. The starting point is always to look at the customer journey and then develop a more holistic approach to communications. Jessica talks about her experience of this.

Describe your business?

We specialise in PR and communications - including copywriting and social media - for small and creative businesses. There are two of us currently plus we also use trusted freelancers when we need to.

We work with small or medium sized businesses who are keen to raise their profile and get themselves known for the great work they’re doing.

How do you juggle running your own business, doing the actual work and doing your own marketing and PR?

The focus is always on the day-to-day work and we regularly sit down to work out what’s happening currently and where we’re going next. We then set monthly targets for what we’d like to achieve from a business marketing and PR point of view, and assess as we go along.

We also make use of scheduling tools when we can. You should never forget about communicating about your business, though - to be effective you need to maintain momentum.

What made you go into PR?

Having worked in advertising and really enjoyed it, I was given the opportunity to work with our agency’s PR company, which sounded intriguing. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it pretty much straight away. It allowed me to write much more, drawing on a passion of mine, and it’s all about good communication, which is something I love. Plus, it’s a lot more tangible than I understood it to be.

Papers and magazines

What is the difference between PR and marketing?

The two definitely work hand-in-hand, and there’s more and more cross-over now, around areas such as social media. But essentially PR is earned communication such as getting written about in the media, whereas marketing is usually paid-for activity, such as advertising or direct marketing.

Why is PR important and what are the main benefits?

Most people think about it as a route to bringing in new business, which it can and should be and that’s often the end goal. But there are a multitude of other benefits good PR brings, such as giving you published content for your own outreach; acting as positive reinforcement for current clients and a jog to lapsed ones; supporting your recruitment efforts and helping your current team - reinforcing the business’ key proposition.

What advice would you give to someone running their own business and is looking at generating PR for the first time?

PR is like any other communication - you need to understand why you’re doing it and what you’d like to achieve.

Amongst my first questions are: what do you stand for as a business and what message/s do you want to communicate? It’s also important to understand your audience - current and potential - and who your competitors are.

With social media often now dominating the communication landscape, when should you take a PR lead rather than marketing lead on this? What will be the difference in approach?

Interesting question. Ideally, the two work hand in hand but, as PR is now very much driven by content and key messages I think PR can often lead a very authentic approach to social media. We manage some social media accounts and always keep the brand's key messages and key audiences at the heart of what we share - whether it's pieces published by the company, interesting articles or research around the key sectors they're working in or more light-hearted, personality-led content. However, if marketing and PR are working most effectively they should share the same ethos and therefore, approach.

How do you believe PR and marketing should work successfully together?

They should start by really understanding the proposition and USP of a brand. This should be stripped back to one key point (with supporting points) if possible, to make it the most effective. Then work out a full communications strategy, whereby the PR push supports the marketing push. Ongoing, effective communication between the two is key, as is being strategic and proactive as well as reactive.

As a small business owner and with limited resources, when should you choose to progress PR over marketing?

In essence, PR is ‘free' attention for your brand so it could be a good place for brands with limited resources to start. You would just pay for the consultancy. You do need guidance from someone experienced to ensure you're saying the right things in the right places, and how to go about it. PR can also create content to share on social media and in marketing activities.

Visit carnsightcommunications to hear more about Jess and the work her team have been doing.

I hope you've found this article useful and learnt a bit more about the differences between marketing and PR. If you are a small business, then feel free to visit my blog the sharp end for more tips and trends on all things marketing.

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