How public relations and marketing work together – a case study

Posted by Sara Hawthorn
Image shows jigaw pieces in branded colours of Doo Marketing and InFusion Comms

Often seen as competing, overlapping or dominating, it’s fair to say that public relations and marketing are generally viewed as having a ‘difficult’ relationship. The reality though, is a somewhat different story. After working alongside marketing consultant, Marianne Smith of Doo Marketing, for the last few years, here’s what we know about PR and marketing that you won’t find in a click-bait headline piece.


PR and marketing offer great client referral opportunities

Like heads and tails on a coin, marketing and PR work together because they cover top to bottom communication needs of a business. The key is recognising when clients need which part, when. Often, I’ll receive a new client referral but after an initial discussion to ascertain their needs it’s clear that the first thing they need to address a lack of clear marketing strategy. In short, they’re not ready for us to take on their PR. The right thing to do is flip the coin over and refer the client to Marianne to who will get their foundations in place, give them an understand of who they’re targeting and why and a clear sense of direction.

PR and marketing skills do overlap, on occasion

This is not a terrible thing. It’s bound to happen due to the expanding skillset required of communicators. I know some marketers who run social media courses and some PR pros who offer marketing strategy as a service. The lines are more blurred, but they’re not completely blended and, if anything, this softening makes us stronger because of the implicit understanding and recognition of what needs to be done to deliver great results to clients. A case in point is a shared client of Doo and InFusion; we both get the need to provide regular, useful content to a targeted audience, we support Doo in making sure there’s a clear marketing action plan underpinning our comms activity, and Doo supports us in making sure we have what we need from the client to feed the PR side of what we do. It isn’t doubling up, it’s dovetailing.

PR and marketing are the double act worth the ticket price

In the years since we’ve been working with Doo, we’ve not only helped clients, we’ve helped each other. Acting as sounding boards for challenges we’re facing, providing nourishing encouragement on those tough days and weeks, and presenting a unified force when working with clients. That balance, that partnership has made us stronger practitioners, excellent at both our individual roles and as part of a collaborative team. When PR and marketing skills are put together this way the results are stronger, the relationships deeper and the long-term impact greater, as Marianne confirms:

“I think it’s important to recognise each other’s skills and strengths, where to bring the other in and how it all adds value to the work  we do. As marketer, I look at every stage of the customer journey, with each stage I know exactly where PR fits and this is when I bring Sara in. PR is a different skill set and adds so much to the overall campaign, which means the combined approach works. When we work collaboratively on the same project we understand the brief, brainstorm ideas and give the client a much quicker ROI.”

As Marianne states above, PR and marketing isn’t an either-or choice, they are not competing forces. Our skillsets and knowledge may be different but our goal is the same. For businesses which prefer one proficiency over the other or, view one as a subset of another, consider how much stronger and effective could your communications be if that approach shifted to something more balanced, more unified; objectives would be aligned with your purpose, definitive and powerful messaging delivered consistently and to the right people. As brands race to keep up in a fast moving media landscape, it’s time to realise the potential a mature PR and marketing service can offer.

Curiosity piqued? Start a conversation about PR and marketing with us today.