The difference between Marketing, PR, Advertising and Branding
The difference between Marketing, PR, Advertising and Branding

I’ve been thinking about how marketing, advertising, and PR all play distinct roles, and how they come together to complement one another. This is what I’ve come up with so far.

Marketing is about filling a demand by developing a product or service.

Branding is about giving that product or service a life and story of its own (maybe a story about how it fills that demand).

Advertising is about establishing a dialog with customers and prospects by telling that story.

And public relations, well, I guess that’s about teaching that story to the general public.

This is why social media can be very, very scary. It lets people share their version of your story. They can remix it, mash it up, and even add to it by telling the story of their own experience with your brand.

But does that mean you shouldn’t tell your story at all?

I had these thoughts while weighing the image above against something that Al Ries wrote in AdAge:

Advertising is focused externally and attempts to set up a dialog with customers and prospects. Marketing is focused internally and attempts to set up a dialog with top management in order to develop a product or a service “with a story.”

Without a story, no advertising, no matter how brilliant, is going to work.

If you’re not trying to fill some demand, there’s no story to tell (and no real brand). And without those things, you don’t really have anything to advertise. So you have to have a story to tell, even if it might get hijacked, remixed, and mashed-up.

But what do you think?

3 thoughts on “A Marketing Story

  1. I think this presents a really interesting cycle…or web…or even network of brand and product communication. I work in marketing, but I work with advertising on a daily basis, which all amounts to our client’s projection of what they want their brand to be. This is coupled with the public relations messages, which are often back steps in a messy tango with their biggest competitor. They spend millions (nearing a billion) in adv/mar/pr dollars a year. But yet every friend I know thinks lowly of their brand…and is also somehow a customer. It’s all very confusing. I feel that they could engage their customers more than they do in the social media world, but they also have to do it simply and smartly. Their latest foray into facebook was a bit too intense and didn’t catch on. Luckily, I do not head up their marketing department. Yet ; )

  2. @Amanda C,
    Two things:
    (1) I guess that social media and the web have brought advertising, PR, branding, and marketing closer together because now they all interact through the same medium, just like how text, images, audio, and video all co-exist online, and the user is simultaneously consumer, producer, and publisher. There’s increased integration.

    (2) I think the reason why so many consumers think lowly of the massive brands (with massive budgets) they regularly consume is because the brand’s story is more about the brand, and less about the consumer. The stories tend to be more along the lines of “this is who we are” rather than “this is what we do for you.”

    Anyway, good luck with usurping that marketing dept., but watch out for Facebook. I’ve heard countless anecdotes about how it works for a few product (i.e. user experiences), but backfires miserably for others.

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