What Is the Difference Between PR and Marketing?

September 6, 2018

It’s time to take another look at these categories.

We’ve noticed lately that many of the clients we serve in the legal field have a fuzzy idea about the difference between PR and marketing. Maybe that’s because these two disciplines collaborate on many projects and, in some firms, report to a single director, or because digital media has so radically changed the landscape of all kinds of communications over the last decade that it has muddied the waters. Whatever the reason, we’d love to shed some light on these two distinct and complementary roles.

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

• Think like journalists. PR pros understand what makes a good reported story, how to pitch story ideas to the right journalists, and how to monitor trends in law to look for opportunities for clients to serve as expert sources.
• Position your lawyers as thought leaders by helping to craft timely and incisive articles and place them in publications that matter to your potential clients.
• 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.
• Suggest and nominate your lawyers for awards and other recognitions valued by your peers.
• Counsel marketers, lawyers, and others in how to translate what they do into storytelling and language that’s accessible to the public.

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 sponsored content in industry publications, which allows them complete control over the message
• Maintain firm blogs and newsletters that communicate directly with clients.

Both marketing and PR are crucial to successfully selling your services and managing your firm’s reputation and relationship with clients. But PR, as noted in a recent Muck Rack piece, offers firms unique value. PR has greater credibility in many people’s eyes because it creates positive buzz through “earned” or impartial media rather than paid placement. And because these are not pay-to-play opportunities, PR efforts can be more cost effective. Finally, quality PR has a long horizon, seeking to create lasting relationships that will pay off over the long term. 

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