Just How Thin IS The “Thin Line” Between Marketing and PR

One of my first lessons at the CEA? There’s more to differentiate marketing and PR than I previously thought. I still believe it’s a pretty thin line (and always getting thinner), but it’s been fascinating to see things from a marketing perspective as opposed to communications.

In the past, as I’ve said before, most of my internships have been in communication departments and at a PR agency, always bordering on marketing, but never enough for me to call myself a “marketing intern.” At CEA, that’s my title, and the differences are becoming more clear to me every day.

In communications and PR, there’s lots of writing involved. Lots of thinking, strategizing, drilling into messages and what language to use to best reach certain audiences. What channels should you use? What media? What’s the target audience? Who should you pitch, and how should pitch them?

In marketing, there’s plenty of writing involved–and still plenty of those same questions–but to a large extent it almost feels more hands on. What I’m writing is not just the language that will promote a campaign; it is the campaign. The copy I write is what’s going in our advertisements, our invitations, or email newsletters, websites, and more. It’s an odd but fun sensation, and it means there’s somewhat of a different approach to the work that I’m doing.

Well, I said it was a thin line. And it is–I’m a big believer that as more and more of our marketing and communications goes digital and online, these two fields are getting ever closer together. It’s tough to run a marketing campaign without a strong communications backbone. And a large part of communications job is pushing marketing campaigns and developing the right messages to promote an organization/product/brand/idea/etc.

And of course, enter social media–the new master of the marketing and communications fields. The new technology and web platforms dominating the marketing, communications, and technology worlds. It’s my speciality, sort of, and it seems to wiggle its way into almost every field–even beyond marketing and communications. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much. It touches so many different areas and people, with so many different functions, that it provides opportunities for always learning new skills and finding new ways of utilizing these tools. Not to mention that it’s always changing. Not a day goes by without a new social network, Facebook privacy debacle, or major new social media campaign.

So my thoughts seem to be contradicting themselves a bit, but I suppose it makes sense to me. That thin line between marketing and communications? Right now, it’s not as thin as I thought it was. But at the same time, this new experience in marketing is giving me insight into these two fields I never had before, and I think I can confirm my earlier belief–that thin line is growing thinner every day.