Do you need marketing, PR or both?

By Claire Cunningham - Director - Rockallwight PR

If you run a small or medium sized company, you will have many business needs. The priority may be to just keep your sales pipeline full and be making sales. As the Director of Rockallwight PR, an agency that helps small innovative businesses to use PR as a growth tool, I regularly talk to leaders within companies....

Is there a difference between PR and marketing?

Quite often company bosses are too busy to have made the distinction between Public Relations (PR) and marketing and see both practices as one and the same thing. Most trustworthy and capable professionals, working in both areas of expertise, will explain that they are not the same. They are different approaches, designed to meet different needs. That doesn’t mean to say that you don’t need both, it just means they are different disciplines. 

“ Business leaders are not interested in the difference and would not spend time thinking about it”, a business consultant in my network told me recently.

Targeting spend on the right support

The observation above may be accurate, but if you are a small business leader, you probably have a limited budget, so surely that means you want to be using the right approach? The cost of accessing marketing support when you really need PR or vice versa could be significant. If you know that you need to engage some support to help you grow the profile and reputation of your business and position it in the right market places over time, rather than just drive more prospects into your sales pipeline, then you probably do need to be accessing some PR support.

Big business solutions adapted for SMEs

At Rockallwight PR, we take communications principles and approaches applied in big business and scale them down so that small businesses can benefit from the solutions that helped those larger companies to grow in the first place. In most big businesses there would be a marketing and a PR department. The professionals working in these areas would have different skills sets and a different professional experience. The same distinction between approaches should be applied at a small business level, in order to be effective and get the right results.

So, what’s the difference?


Marketing focuses on making sales, the strategies and tactics that are applied focus on your customers journey and your sales pipeline. Marketing materials are usually designed for potential customers at various stages of their journey towards being your client and are designed to keep them engaged within your sales pipeline. Marketing practice focuses intently on the relationship with the customer in order to drive sales.

Public Relations

This is not so with PR, where the relationship with your client and other audiences, such as important stakeholders is valued in and of itself, not just because it might lead to a sale. In PR, relationship building is much more strategic and the focus is on engaging with the right audiences to help you meet your overarching business goals, over time. This doesn’t mean that good PR doesn’t eventually improve your sales figures, it’s just not the immediate focus. Good PR should eventually enable you to meet business goals, and that can include increased sales revenue.

How can PR help you to develop your business?

Companies do not thrive in a vacuum. As they grow and mature over time, companies need to flex and adjust to customer and stakeholder expectations. Companies that don’t do this fail. PR helps you to manage your reputation in order to achieve this. In addition, top level goals cannot always be met by the company alone. In an increasingly complex business world, partnerships and collaborations are key. Good PR can help you to operate in virtual and physical ‘business spaces’, where you can raise your individual and business profile to build the relationships that will help your business thrive.

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