By: Laurel Budrick (@budrick_l)

As a student with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in marketing, I understand that some individuals are unfamiliar with the difference between public relations and marketing (honestly, before starting my core classes, I didn’t even know!). I believe the growth in social media has played a huge role in distinguishing both roles right away.​


  • According to Public Relations Society of America, public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.
  • According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

​Main Differences

  • Public Relations: Earned media. organizations gain publicity through third-party endorsements such as word-of-mouth, press conferences, news releases, etc. Social media has also played a role in public relations. Just like traditional PR, professionals earn online cover with blogs, digital publications, social media influencers, and other content-based websites. PR professionals can also utilize social media by using measurement tools like Google Analytics to track how many users online are clicking a link to their client’s website.
  • Marketing: Paid media (such as radio, television, and print advertising). Digital marketing is also an umbrella term for online marketing efforts. Marketing is all about connecting with the audience by being at the right place at the right time. Thanks to the internet, you can connect with them where they are already spending majority of their time on.

Despite having different goals, marketing and public relations are intertwined. Public relations depends on a positive reputation for the organization’s success and its survival. Marketing is focused specifically on looking to add value to the targeted customers, clients, and partners by promoting and selling a specific product or service. Marketers aim to turn shoppers into buyers to ultimately create sales. Nevertheless, public relations practitioners aim to maintain and build a company’s reputation.

All organizations want to sell products or services while still building a positive image. If the company sells bad products, they will be viewed unfavorably. Alternatively, if the public doesn’t view the company favorably, the chances of the product selling well is slim. This is why marketing and PR depend on each other.

As the marketing intern for the Tulip Time Festival, I find myself not only using marketing skills (such as working mailing lists and managing sales), but also using public relations skills (like writing news releases and attending community events). My experience at Tulip Time has shown me how important it is to use both sets of skills, making me a well-rounded communications professional.

Laurel is a junior at Grand Valley State University majoring Advertising and Public Relations and a minoring in Marketing. Laurel is also the Member Services Chair for GVSU PRSSA. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending the time with her friends and family.