Is PR More Aligned With Marketing Than It Used To Be

Today I read an article by B2B Marketing on the connection between marketing and public relations nowadays. The results revealed in the B2B PR Agencies Repot 2015, suggest that 96 per cent of PR agencies think ‘PR is more mixed in with marketing than it used to be’ as the result of rapid digitisation. Moreover, 74 per cent said that nowadays ‘PR agencies are competing with marketing agencies much more.’ In this post I will attempt to analyse these results and explain why the border between marketing and PR is fading and will become even more blurred in the future.

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Originally, public relations (PR) is part of the marketing communications mix. However, PR evolved a lot by itself and became a whole new discipline. While marketing is more associated with sales, PR is focusing on communicating and building relationship with its various publics. At the end of the day, both marketing and PR aim to increase profit, but where the real difference comes from is in the means they use to achieve it. 

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Nowadays, things are completely different than they used to be, say about 5 years ago. This is when I started my first year at university and what I remember is social media was still at its dawn, marketing was all about sales and profit, and PR was mainly associated with press releases and the traditional media. During these years we have witnessed the dramatic changes PR and marketing have gone through, and their transition from traditional to digital. Originally, social media was rather associated as part of PR than marketing since it’s all about media and communication. But soon marketers also started seeing the huge potential social media has, and the opportunities it provides. And this is how the border started fading away.

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These days every business, as well as practitioner from any industry that pretends to be successful, is supposed to have well developed social profiles. A website, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are a must. Digital marketing, content marketing, visual marketing, infographics, etc. are all innovative means of reaching the customer who has become much smarter and informed than they used to be. Technology and digital media are the things that are uniting marketing and PR nowadays and they are likely to make them bond with each other even more.

Lidiya Kirilova

Can You Learn PR At University

Today’s post is a bit different from the other topics covered in this blog already. It is looking at PR, marketing and social media from an academic perspective rather than a practical one and discusses whether higher education can provide the foundations of PR and teaches students how to practice it.

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I have read a few articles in the recent weeks suggesting higher education is lost on PR and social media- these are entirely practical disciplines and one cannot learn them at university but at work “by trying things out, evaluating results, stepping back, thinking again and learning by doing.” dd_socialEven though the suggestion seems quite accurate, I have to strongly disagree. It is true PR and social media and marketing as well are all very practical disciplines- the more you practice, the more you learn. However, we have to take one thing into consideration- these are all new and undeveloped sectors that need to be properly researched and backed up academically. Before you come up with a certain theory, you do a proper research first, compare and contrast it with other theories, identify the weaknesses and test it. This is why I believe it is of great significance for PR and social media practitioners to possess academic knowledge on these subjects as this way the industry will go forward. Academics and practitioners need to go hand by hand in order to develop the PR industry and this includes social media as well.

I have to admit the PR industry has a bad reputation as it is quite often related to manipulation, black PR practices, gossip and so on. And this is because every second person is calling themselves a PR practitioner. For me, you cannot be a PR professional unless you learn how it works from the Public-relations-words-with-manbottom to the top. From writing press releases to doing corporate communication- it is all considered PR. Yes, you can learn the basics by practicing and trying things out, you can develop instinct when you create a daily routine, but you will never possess real knowledge. People around the world are fighting for the right of education while others who have easy access just refuse to make use of it. Countries such as Germany and UK have made their education systems accessible for their citizens from all classes within the society. Taking the decision not to receive education in these countries is a matter of choice and not of opportunity.

In my opinion, the statement one does not need education in PR, social media or marketing is just not serious. It is true neither PR and social media nor marketing is considered a science; it is more practice than knowledge that you need. However, it is so just because the practitioners have the wrong attitude. I’m not saying it’s wrong to call yourself a PR practitioner without having a PR degree- many practitioners have degrees in marketing, journalism and even in disciplines such as maths or engineering; I’m saying it is wrong to condemn the industry to remain all the same for years ahead by denying it the opportunity to be developed academically. I think the only way for PR to get rid of the bad reputation and receive popularity and respect is to reach out a hand to education.

Lidiya Kirilova