What Is the Difference Between PR and Marketing?

August 9, 2021

Perhaps because they often work hand-in-hand, “public relations” and “marketing” are often used synonymously. In some firms, they even report to a single director, and digital media has muddied the waters by radically changing the landscape for all communications. But while these two communications tracks sometimes overlap, they do represent distinct sets of activities and play distinct roles in the process of promoting a law firm. Here are the differences — and why you need both:

The difference between marketing and PR

As this article from Muck Rack highlights, marketing and PR have complementary yet distinct roles. While they collaborate on many projects together, each requires a different set of tools, skills and technology. Moreover, the way they interact with the public on behalf of your business differs.

Marketing professionals directly promote and sell your firm’s services. They know how to:

  • Conduct industry and client research to guide the creation of marketing campaigns
  • Craft messaging and articulate brand identity
  • Execute advertising campaigns and other “pay-to-play” content in industry publications
  • Maintain firm blogs and newsletters that communicate directly with clients.

Unlike marketing, PR’s reach extends beyond visibility you can pay for. It helps your company form a mutually beneficial relationship with your target audience. Good PR opens the door for your audience to have a conversation with you. If done on an ongoing basis, you’ll forge a lasting bond between the public and your brand. So it’s important to have a strong PR team, particularly one that serves your industry.

Legal public relations professionals help your firm tell its story and maintain your firm’s relationship in your field. They know how to:

  • Position your lawyers as thought leaders.
  • Suggest and nominate your lawyers for awards valued by your peers.
  • Think like journalists. PR pros understand what makes a well-reported story. And they know how to pitch story ideas to the right journalists. Plus, they can monitor trends in law to look for opportunities for clients to serve as expert sources.
  • Build relationships with key members of the media that outlast a single opportunity. And keep the lines of communication open between your firm and your target market.
  • Counsel marketers and lawyers in how to communicate what they do in a way the public understands.

If you’re looking to strengthen your credibility among your target audience, then good strategic PR can help you do that. In today’s world, people are bombarded with marketing messages, and trust is a valuable currency. On average, two in ten global consumers have never lost trust in a brand. But 80% have stopped buying from one that did something to lose their trust. Often they switched to a competitor.

Why firms need a strategy that encompasses both marketing and PR

Your firm needs marketing and PR. Both are crucial to successfully selling your services. And they’re vital to managing your firm’s reputation and relationship with clients. Marketing gives your brand full control over its message and can engage in short-term efforts that draw quick, measurable results. But what PR gives up in editorial control, by putting the messages in the hands of reporters and editors, it gains in credibility. “Earned” media placements in outlets your buyers trust go a long way to cementing your brand. PR seeks to create lasting relationships that will pay off over the long term.

At Page 2 we often consult on our clients’ marketing efforts. But our primary focus is on providing expert public relations for law firms. And we love what we do!