PR Industry / Professionalism / Relationship

Public relations, marketing and advertising – where do we stand?

In Norway (where I’m from), it is rather natural that public relations practitioners are working alongside marketers and advertisers. Yet, although they have different functions within an organisation, I have noticed that their responsibilities in practice are overlapping. Just recently, a friend of mine applied to a marketing position within a Norwegian clothing company, whereas one of her main tasks would be to accompany the head of PR to her scheduled appearances and meetings. It appeared that the marketing and PR requirements were quite similar, and they worked close together with the brand’s positioning and communicational efforts.

In a historical perspective, theorists and professionals have continued discussing the differences of PR and marketing functions, and whether they should be partners or rivals when competing for organisational attention and resources. Therefore I wanted to dig deeper into the academic literature to explore how different theorists perceived the relationship between marketing and PR. I discovered that it appeared that the marketing field is methodically reinventing itself as public relations. This became particularly evident when reviewing Philip Kotler’s (who is a marketer by heart) theory about ‘Marketing 3.0’, whereas he suggested that marketers should comprehend aspects of public relations to understand the brands’ anthropology and sociology.

However, theorists have also created concepts that advocate a closer collaboration between marketing and PR, such as ‘Integrated Marketing Communication’ and ‘Marketing PR’. In these concepts, PR is positioned as a sub-function to marketing, given that it were mainly marketers who developed these theories. Thus, PR professionals and PR theorists are not supportive of these concepts, especially because current evidence suggests that PR functions are naturally adaptable to social media skills, at least according to Rob Brown, the writer of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web – How to use Social Media and Web 2.0 in Communications’.

Brown described, “these changes [social media, Red.] herald a new era in which the targeting skills of the public relations industry are infinitely more adaptable and appropriate to the environment than those of the traditionally more dominated advertising industry”.

In my opinion, the use of social media has become an invaluable strategy in the communicative industry, which therefore indicates that public relations functions are more valuable and requested by modern organisations.

Despite of this, it is important to ask whether this evolvement will affect the roles of PR, advertising and marketing, and in what way? Will this distinct one role from the others, or create a more united communicative industry? These questions are difficult to answer, but I am sure that the social media phenomenon will contribute to a noticeable shift in the management structure of the organisations.

Source: John Moore, Brand Autopsy,

Source: John Moore, Brand Autopsy,

– Maria


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