PR pro: Don’t call us marketers

An op-ed from The Huffington Post draws clear lines between the marketing and PR fields, but the reality is those distinctions are getting blurrier.


Earlier this year, I published a piece that may have suggested that PR is a “fallback” career for journalists. The piece garnered 50+ comments; clearly, some PR folks are easily offended.

List Brian Kilgore among the easily offended. He recently penned a piece for The Huffington Post titled, “Don’t Insult PR People by Calling Them Marketers.”

The offending part is the Globe and Mail, which called CBC’s new boss a former “marketing and public relations executive.”

Marketing and public relations are different, Kilgore asserts.

The piece is actually more of a 101-level “This is what PR is and this is what marketing is—see, aren’t they different?”

I think Kilgore seriously mischaracterizes the approach of a modern brand. Social media has changed everything. The most successful brands don’t function within an old school model under which PR, marketing, and advertising function in their own silos and it’s up to PR to pitch journalists.

Sure, you can still function in that model, but a coordinated approach—with PR, marketing, and advertising functioning as fingers in a fist, with social media as the thumb—can spark much more influence than any department working on its own.

PR people shouldn’t be offended by being perceived as marketers any more than marketers should be offended by being seen as public relations pros. We should all recognize that the lines are blurred in the new paradigm—it’s only when the efforts are coordinated that the best things happen.

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