Skip Navigation Accessibility Statement

Understanding Today’s Media: Insights from Top Journalists

Join this panel with top journalists to explore findings from the 2024 State of the Media Report.

The 2024 State of the Media Report

Get actionable insight from 3,000+ journalists on what they truly want and need from PR teams.

What Is Public Relations in Marketing? Definition & Examples

interior crowd with speaker

In today’s digital world, information flows freely from sources all over the globe and trust is more important than ever. Our 2023 State of the Media Report found that audience perception as a trusted news source was a top priority for journalists – and the same is true of today’s brands. The increasing importance of building and maintaining a strong reputation creates even more overlap in the roles of  public relations and marketing teams.

What Is Public Relations in Marketing?

Public relations in marketing is a company’s use of tactics and strategies that generate brand equity, build a positive image, highlight product and service launches and updates and ultimately boost sales and revenue. Let’s take a closer look at the two parts of this term.

The definition of public relations (PR) focuses on communicating with the public to create a brand narrative and maintain a company’s reputation and visibility. PR professionals earn media coverage by:

●     Building relationships with journalists and members of the media
●     Responding to requests for information
●     Writing and distributing press releases
●     Creating and implementing social media strategies
●     Monitoring brand mentions and crafting responses
●     Managing crises and negative attention
●     Evaluating and leveraging promotional opportunities
●     Organizing and attending events

Public relations is a subset of marketing that focuses on earned media management. As a broader category, marketing includes:

●      Earned media
●      Paid media, like search engine marketing (SEM)
●      Owned media, like your website or blog
●      Email marketing
●      Content marketing

Public relations in marketing combines these two important business functions to create and share compelling stories, build relationships with your target audiences, and achieve your business goals.

Types of Public Relations

While marketing focuses on promoting products and services, the true meaning of public relations lies in reputation management. There are numerous areas of public relations that ladder up to this goal.

Media Relations

Media relations is a big part of what PR professionals do. It involves developing relationships with contacts at media outlets who can get your message out to the public. They do this by creating compelling press releases and targeting them to the right journalists. It’s mutually beneficial: Journalists get information from experts about stories that are important to them, and businesses get positive media coverage. Influencers are also a key part of a modern media relations strategy. In fact, our 2023 Global Comms Report showed that 43% of communications professionals are relying on influencers more than they did last year – behind only paid and earned social media.

Community Relations

Positive media relationships can help your business be perceived well by the general public, but it’s also important to make sure you’re reaching the local community – after all, you’re a part of it. Volunteering, donating, and sponsoring local events can all help your company get involved and ensure you have a positive impact on the community. It’s also an important way to communicate your values to your stakeholders and the broader public.

Corporate Communications

Corporate communications is the process of communicating within your organization and with other businesses in your industry. It includes things like internal and external emails, newsletters, memos, speeches from executives, employee handbooks, and other resources. It sets the tone for all your communications.

Crisis Management

While negative press certainly isn’t new, even the smallest mistake today can quickly go viral – and big mistakes can take down a business. Recent events like Southwest Airlines’ holiday flight meltdown, Starbucks’ illegal union-busting, and the entire FIFA World Cup in Qatar are just a few examples of public relations crises. PR professionals are at the front lines of crisis communications and crisis management, monitoring and responding to social media comments, crafting responses from the C-suite, and leveraging their media relationships to amplify their responses and turn the negative into a positive.

Examples of Public Relations in Marketing

Within each type of public relations, there are various strategies that overlap with marketing, including:

Events

Events are often considered to be both public relations and marketing. PR and marketing professionals may attend events, hosting the booth and interacting with potential customers. The overall goal is to maintain a positive relationship with the community and industry, but the desired outcomes are different: public relations will focus on promoting the brand as a whole and creating media buzz, while marketing will be interested in generating leads and making sales.

Press Releases

Press releases are often thought of as the domain of public relations alone, and this is sometimes the case, especially when they’re used to announce events, changes in management, or other company news. But they’re also a great example of public relations in marketing because they can have a huge effect on sales when they’re used to promote products or services. A press release announcing a long-awaited product update or the launch of a new line of products can instantly boost demand.

Blogs

On the other hand, blogs are often thought of as the domain of marketing alone. They’re a big part of a company’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, and are often promoted on social media channels, which are both part of a good marketing strategy. But blogs also often address customer concerns, provide tips on how to use a product, showcase expertise, and share information about a company – all of which overlap with public relations.

Social Media

Social media is a perfect example of both public relations and marketing, because it is typically part of any successful communications strategy. Both your PR and marketing teams might create and publish social media posts, depending on the content. That would fall in the realm of your owned media. The marketing team might run social media ads or influencer campaigns, which are paid media. And the PR team might leverage social media monitoring so they can be aware of and respond to any important events, garnering earned media.

Public Relations and Marketing: Better Together

Public relations and marketing together have more of an impact than either one of them alone. Today’s media landscape is saturated with marketing. Not only are customers becoming more savvy to traditional tactics, it’s harder to cut through the noise. Plus, customers today care more about companies being ethical, inclusive, and eco-friendly than ever before.

This new landscape means companies need to take a new, integrated approach to marketing – one that includes public relations. By using innovative PR tactics that earn positive media attention (and mitigate negative attention), companies can communicate about not only their products and services, but about their values. Public relations in marketing creates a new, deeper connection with customers.

Benefits of Public Relations for Marketing

Public relations and marketing go hand in hand. The PR aspect of a company’s marketing strategy can provide plenty of benefits that impact sales, like:

●       Building credibility
●       Earning customer trust and loyalty
●       Boosting brand awareness and brand image
●       Reaching new audiences

Public relations also boosts your marketing efforts. For example, public relations might boost overall awareness and ensure your customers have a positive impression of your brand, so that when they see a paid advertisement, they’re more likely to click on it. Or, a PR response to negative press might prevent your sales from plummeting. In short, PR “sets the stage” for how a customer will respond to your marketing.

Getting Started with Public Relations in Marketing

A smart strategy that combines public relations and marketing can be a clear winner for your brand. Find out how Cision can help you craft a public relations strategy that works perfectly in sync with your marketing efforts. Schedule time to speak to a Cision expert today.