PR Is a Marketing Tool, Isn’t It?

In writing the above headline, I couldn’t decide if the statement should be declarative, rhetorical or questioning….


I went with the question only because I am uncertain of the answer. While it is clear to me that public relations (PR) is a form of propaganda (information representing the views of a group of people), which is just another way to spell marketing, much of the business world seems unwilling to accept the premise.
For starters, Public Relations is almost always placed within its own department or within the Communications Department. And those who work the media from their corporate cubicles often seat themselves on a throne adorned with script of a higher calling then the prose emitted from their brothers and sisters in Marketing.
In fact, having grown up as a daily reporter and then worked within a number of communications departments, I think it safe to say that those in PR hold marketers in relatively low esteem. I ask myself why. At the same time, I remind those in PR that the media sees us very much the same as they see those in marketing–tools to spread corporate news and information.
Let’s take a simple, 10,000-foot view of the two jobs and their tasks:
1. Both exist to inform and educate
2. Both exist to spread good news and tamp bad
3. Both are at the mercy of the Executive Team, Human Resources and Legal
4. Both are held responsible for increasing sales through messaging
5. Both use the same media to spread their messaging
6. Both tell a similar version of the truth (propaganda)
7. Both use story-telling to grab their audiences
8. Both are rewarded when good news carries the day
9. Both are scolded when bad news carries the day
10. Both get their marching orders from the same sources
11. Both sit on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder
Yet, seldom do PR and Marketing share the same space or work closely with one another. Therefore, employees and customers are subject to mixed and contrary messages.
With that in mind, does anyone else question why public relations, and internal communications, as well, are not seen as marketing tools in every instance? Do we need to create two departments responsible for messaging (not to mention HR’s attempts to communicate)? Should PR be a constant and regularly used tool in the Marketing mix?
Just wondering. In my consultancy, PR and Advertising are seen as marketing tools (tactics). It just seems natural. That’s why I ask the question. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of messaging correctness.

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