There’s a Difference Between Marketing and PR. Leave Social Media out of It.

Susan Etlinger (left), Jeremiah Owyang (center) and Kara Swisher (right) on a panel at the Horn Group talking about the difference between PR and marketing. Photo credit: Ken Yeung

Last night I attended a panel discussion at the Horn Group in San Francisco which featured some interesting folks on the dais. The topic of the discussion: “Is Social Media Killing PR?” I don’t think that it is and simply because social media along with other interactive media are merely tools designed to support the execution of a policy or campaign. Panelists slightly agreed with the point of view that public relations is being destroyed not by social media, but other factors

Just who were the panelists that offered their insights? Why, there was Susan Ettinger (Horn Group), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research), and Kara Swisher (Wall Street Journal/All Things Digital). Moderated by Sam Whitmore, it was fitting to have representatives from different industries present: one from a PR agency, an industry marketer, and another into media.

What I found fascinating was the discussion that people felt social media wasn’t destroying social media. My response is: No, it’s not…social media is NOT a competitor to public relations. Rather, it’s an enhancement, a tool, a means to an end, and more of a supporting character that helps public relations get its job done. Many arguments result in people complaining about how consumers should be talked to and it boils down to whether it’s marketing or public relations that has it better. But let’s not take out our frustration on social media or anything interactive, for that matter.

Why shouldn’t we focus our efforts on online media to help sustain a profession and means of promotion?

Observation #1

Business strategists are thinking that their livelihood is being taken away by bloggers and folks using interactive means of communication to interact more with people than agencies – thus reducing the demand and need of an agency.

This seems to be a lot of crying over spilled milk, in my opinion. Why would you not embrace the interactive? It’s just a digital means of “word of mouth” and you can join the conversation. Just because you have Joe the Plumber blogging about the latest craze in toilet repair technology does not mean you don’t have a job. You should ENGAGE him in conversation and help reinforce the evangelical spirit in his promotion. There are folks that he/she will not be able to reach and based on a specific audience, you can focus your efforts in a concentrated manner.

Observation #2

Marketers and PR folks seem to be worried about their efforts of work when they don’t rake in huge publicity and promotion for a client or their product.

With interactive media, you can create a more viral approach. Here’s another example of how this form of media is not working against public relations or marketing, but rather with it. The agency can create the promotion and awareness, but then by creating a “community” of supporters, product ambassadors and even evangelicals, you will be able to get your news out faster and to a larger audience. Why waste your time focusing on how online media is destroying your livelihood when you can embrace it and use it to your advantage? Without online media, it’s back to traditional media…print, television and radio. How boring…no one pays attention to that now.

According to Wikipedia, public relations is defined as:

…the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.

So how are social media, email marketing, online advertising, and websites managing the flow of information? As I said earlier, it’s all a means to an end. The tools you use online are the mechanisms that will help you control the flow of information and allow you to engage in the conversation.

You can view some of the videos from the panel discussion here and here. There are some interesting points that people blogged about here as well:

7 responses to “There’s a Difference Between Marketing and PR. Leave Social Media out of It.”

  1. free satellite Avatar

    Hello, for a long time I read your blog, thanks for that that write interesting and
    useful posts.I consider that blogers it is possible to name many journalists.

    Good luck

  2. Cara B Levi Avatar
    Cara B Levi

    great article!, grats for u site 🙂

  3. SEO Directory Avatar

    I dont really think Social Media is killing PR or anything. PR depends upon number of links you have on other high PR sites.

  4. alat hemat bbm Avatar

    niche posting, thx



  5. Home Treatments Avatar

    Social Media is definitely not destroying PR in anyway..
    Social Media is rather helping in many ways and creating new ways for mass social activities..
    It helps to share each other's knowledge experience and in a very eye catching and attention catching way.
    It is always creating convenient and time saving ways for the population…

  6. itjobs1 Avatar

    Very very interesting post..I like this one.

  7. Farmville Cheats Avatar

    Great points made in your article.
    I agree with observation 1.
    Couldn't agree more.
    What are your opinions on it now-a-days?

    Farmville Cheats

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