Your Ayes Tell Me Yes, Yes, But... The PR and Marketing Clash

A Vocus "Snapshot of Integrated Communications" summary from March 10, 2010 to March 31, 2010, surveyed 966 public relations professionals about their perceptions of integrated communications. Survey participants were provided the following definition: In the context of this survey, the term "integrated communications" means a management concept that ties all aspects of marketing communication, including, but not limited to advertising, search marketing, sales promotion, public relations and direct marketing, together to function in a unified an comprehensive fashion as opposed to functioning in isolation or silos."

Key findings include the following: 

·      The lines between PR and marketing are blurring: Marketing and PR have formalized working relationships, but data suggests "formal" does not necessarily mean "functional." 78% of marketing and PR professionals say they report to the same boss, while 77% of the same group report formal working relationships to create a common communications strategy. However, 67% hold cross-functional meetings only "sometimes."

·      Turf battles" are still evident: Despite formalized processes or structures, 34% cited "organizational structures, functional silos, or turf battles" as the single largest barrier to integrated communications. The next largest barrier is budget shortcomings with 20% of respondents.

·      Ownership of social media and blogging is still undecided: PR and marketing each have a strong sense of ownership. 43% of PR professionals feel they should own social media, while 34% of marketers make the same claim. 37% of PR professionals think PR should own the corporate blog versus 23% of marketers expressing the same sentiment.

·      Benefits and communication measurement provides common ground: 56% of marketing and PR professionals say integrated communications increases overall effectiveness of their outreach programs. 48% cite sales and ROI as the single most important factor in measuring the results of an integrated communications strategy.

Until recently, integrated communications seemed more idealistic than practical, says the report, with PR and marketing often functioning independently, reporting to different department leads, and ultimately measuring different results. But social media has reinvigorated industry discussion.

Traditionally, PR has focused on reputation, earned media, third-party validation, and awareness-building - while marketing has been generally focused on advertising, sponsorships and lead-generation. The conversation has centered on how these two disciplines should be orchestrated to increase the overall effectiveness of outreach.
Social media contains elements that both disciplines find appealing and complementary to their existing efforts, so the debate has shifted towards who should "own" social media and, more importantly, how best to integrate social media with broader marketing or communications channels.

At first glance, says the report, integrated communications seem to have substantial momentum since a majority of respondents say their organizations have formal structures to facilitate collaboration. However, as subsequent data demonstrated, despite formally integrated structure and organization, there are strong indicators of barriers in execution.
Nearly 80% of respondents said that marketing and PR both report to the same department head in their organizations. This is slightly higher than a previous survey, conducted by Forbes Insights in late 2009, which found 73% of CMOs saying they were responsible for PR.
Both disciplines said they work together formally to develop or execute a common communication strategy. 77% of respondents, buy into the concept, believing that this is the right approach. A step in the right direction, concludes the report, since historically, marketing and PR reported to separate channels and viewed their responsibilities as distinct.
61% of the respondents reported that they were more focused on integrated communications this year, as compared to last year, while 32% reported little change. Only 4% said they were less focused, while 3% said integrated communications was not a focus in either 2009 or 2010.

One respondent wrote in a representative open-ended response: "The gray line between marketing and PR is... overall, marketing and PR have the same goal, and while they have different tactics to obtain that goal, their strategies need to co-align."

53% of respondents self-identified as PR professionals, while 47% said they were marketing professionals. In segmenting these responses, the study found that sentiment against integrated communications was much stronger among PR professionals than among marketers. For example, 14% of PR respondents said they do not believe PR and marketing should report to the same department head, while just 3% of marketers felt the same way. A representative sample responded to the "why" this way:

Why Do You Believe Marketing And PR Should Have Separate Reporting Channels?

PR response

Marketing Response

In our organization, marketing has a more tactical focus, whereas PR has a more strategic focus - messaging and positioning.

Difference between longview (marketing) and near-future (PR) efforts make for difficulty in streamlining efforts.


PR and marketing are two separate roles. PR works with and engages with the media. Marketing thinks everything a company does is "newsworthy," when it's not.

Our PR group does PR for the entire company and not per business [units]. Marketing departments focus on business [units] and products.


Whereas I believe PR people understand how marketing works for the most part, I have found the opposite is rarely true.

The style of work and expertise required for marketing and PR is vastly different.

Source: Vocus, May 2010

These remarks illustrate that some professionals have strong and paradoxical viewpoints. For example, the first two remarks are telling: The PR professional says marketing is tactical and PR is strategic, meanwhile the marketing professional says PR is tactical and marketing is strategic.
When asked if they conduct cross-functional meetings to coordinate PR and marketing efforts, the vast majority, 67%, said "sometimes." Some formal working relationships are indeed formal, but if cross-functional teams "rarely" or only "sometimes" meet (81%), they can't be called functional. This is suggestive of lip-service - reporting to the same boss means integration happens at a planning level but breaks down during execution. This finding mirrors anecdotal evidence observed daily in client feedback, discussions with practitioners and commentary throughout the industry.
Both sides, though, say the most prominent justifications for "integrated communications" are consistency in messaging (56%), increased overall effectiveness (49%), and simply being more strategic in overall effort (45%).
Despite turf battles over ownership, and the challenges of executing an integrated communications program, one area where marketing and PR are aligned is on measuring results. A clear majority, (48%) cited sales and ROI as the single most important factor in measuring the results of an integrated communications strategy. A cross-tab analysis confirms that 54% of marketers and 42% of PR professionals cite sales and ROI as the most critical measurement factor.

And, in summary, the report cites these ongoing attitudes:

In Your Own Words, How Would You Define Integrated Communications?



Integrated communications involves having consistently concise, exciting/pleasing, unique, useful messages about different interesting pertinent events/services/products coming across in an identifiable brand without appearing overly aggressive or stale/repetitive.

Branding messaging and strategy integrated throughout the product line, ecommunications, PR messaging and marketing materials.


Integrated communications is the strategic use of relevant communications methods (i.e. PR, marketing, advertising, etc.) to achieve one common goal.

Integrated communications is product development, sales, marketing, and communications centralized.


Advertising and PR groups working hand in hand so that the target audience hears about your product or services in both paid and unpaid media outlets.

Strategically designed programs using a wide variety of tactics from all disciplines to put forth a consistent and positive message.


Communicating the vision and goals of an organization using news, accomplishments, activities, traditions and legacies to influence support of potential customers, etc.

Integrated communications is the key to success in an organization. Messages between sales, marketing and PR to provide ROI and increase sales.


Where the marketing, public relations and communications teams work together to generate press, materials, buzz and more. They consistently work with each other.

A process of creating/publishing content that goes to the edges of your industry in terms of value, sets you apart from your competition and results in sales because it demonstrates how your business solves the problem better than anyone else.


Bringing all disciplines of marketing and PR together to form a cohesive strategy, executed on different fronts but with a consistent message and in pursuit of the same goal. An overall communications program that is measured against a unified set of goals, and that is built on consistent messaging.

A holistic approach to communications that brings together inbound and outbound programs, online and offline channels under consistent strategy and messages. The use of the most efficient marketing tactics together to promote brand identity, sell product/service and develop consumer relationships


Using marketing, public relations and advertising to clearly tell an organization's story as a way to generate awareness, motivate action in consumers and change consumer perceptions.

Using all professional tools of communication in order to boost a brand or business and achieve individual results that live under the umbrella of one overall goal.


A unified effort by all players involved in external (and internal) communications around a common set of goals, executed according to each group's area of focus, and coordinated to best achieve the common goals.

Integrated communication is a tapestry. Each type of communication offers its own color and texture, but for the best effect they need to be woven together to create the finished product. 

Source: Vocus, May 2010

To read more of this extensive study, including supporting charts and graphs, please visit Vocus here.

2 comments about "Your Ayes Tell Me Yes, Yes, But... The PR and Marketing Clash".
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  1. Hank Blank from Blank and Associates, May 13, 2010 at 10:05 a.m.

    Totally agree that the landscape has changed. Herer is a blog I posted a few weeks ago.

    As we all know social media and social networking has changed the communications landscape to a great degree. Certainly brand communications and advertising has changed from a monologue where the advertiser was crafting the brand message to a dialogue where the consumer is now part of the communications engagement.

    Social media has also changed the advertising and public relations sandboxes. Until very recently the duties and responsibilities of agencies were quite distinct. Agencies did ads and PR firms did public relations. Now the sandboxes have blurred and gone away.

    So who should implement social media and social networking for clients? Should it be your public relations firm, your advertising agency, your digital agency or should you do it yourself?

    In many ways I could argue that it should be your public relations firm. They are the ones skilled at writing an electronically optimized news release with key words hyperlinked to help their client’s organic SEO. Then the public relations firm repurposes the release on the client’s Facebook fan page and tweets out the release with a link to the posting on the internet.

    Most public relations agencies are adept at implementing video releases so repurposing a video release on YouTube should pose no great obstacle to them.

    Now If I asked an agency copywriter to write me an electronically optimized news release their eyes would glaze over. At the same time if a public relations person told me they could write a radio commercial or TV spot, I would laugh.

    One of the social media experts that I follow is Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital. I know Edelman as a public relations agency and not an advertising agency. And where do I read Steve’s Rubel columns? In Advertising Age. Yes the sandboxes have blown away.

    So who should handle your social media and networking programs? Your advertising agency? Your public relations firm? Your digital agency? Well I argue that it should be the smartest resource. Whichever firm is the most skilled and well versed in social media.

    Many times I see many firms in all three practices who are posers.

    They announce that they are engaged in social media and handing social media for current and prospective clients yet they have no presence on any of the social networks, their social media has no organic presence when you search for them.

    I am just a consultant, yet I routinely have many more Linkedin connections and Twitter followers than most agencies, public relations or digital agencies that reach out to me. My Google presence dominates theirs and they are companies with numerous employees. So I say partner with the smartest resource that demonstrates their capability by their presence in this new communications platform and medium.

    Why not just do it yourself you might ask? I have talked to many clients who are doing it on their own. It’s simple they say. All it takes is time. But time does cost money.

    Most clients’ marketing departments are lean these days and their social media networking efforts are often an added responsibility for some selected individual in addition to the other work they may be doing. This limits their robustness and their participation because they just don’t have the time.

    The other mistake that they make is that they don’t have a strategy. They are just doing it without any set messaging strategy. There are limited metrics and no benchmarks to judge those metrics.

    Many companies aren’t doing too much in the social media space because it is too politically hard so they aren’t capitalizing upon the many opportunities that social media offers. In larger companies, implementing social media may involve the legal department, customer service as well as marketing and getting everybody together to craft a social media program may not be what marketing wants to champion right now.

    That is why you need an outside source to help you with your strategy, help you with your band width and keep you smart. Social media is changing so rapidly that you need as many good resources as you can afford to use.

    So the sand has shifted but the shifting sands have also provided opportunities for growth, innovation and change which marketing is supposed to embrace. Happy tweeting.

    Hank Blank runs a marketing services consultancy company based in Laguna Niguel, CA. His core competencies include advertising, public relations, interactive and personal and social networking. He also conducts agency reviews aligning clients with the correct resources for their needs. He speaks on Networking and New Business Development across the country.

    He can be reached at or

  2. David Shor from Prove, May 14, 2010 at 2:11 a.m.

    Really appreciate the contribution. Great perspectives. I would love to see the perspectives comparing traditional PR to social-enabled PR people.

    David Shor

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