Definitions in the field of marketing can be rather confusing – many terms are used interchangeably. For instance people can talk about marketing when more correctly they are talking about advertising. These definitions from Kathy Dempsey’s book – The accidental library marketer (2009, p. 16-17) – are useful for demystifying some of the terminology:
Marketing is taking steps to move goods from producers to consumers. It’s determining what people want, delivering it, evaluating consumer satisfaction, and then periodically updating that whole process.
Public relations is a planned, long-term communication program (via various media) with a goal of convincing the public to have good will toward something. It’s helping people to think well of an organization, product or concept.
Publicity is sending a message via official channels such as news releases, newsletters and press conferences.
Promotion is furthering the growth or development of a product or service. It’s not just aiming toward good will; it’s encouraging people to use the product or service by telling those people how it would benefit them.
Advertising is calling attention to something through paid announcements.
Branding is a process with dual objectives: 1) establishing a strong link between a company and its logo/typeface/picture or name/phrase and 2) developing the “personality” of your product and service, establishing the characteristics that should come to mind when people think of you. Branding helps build loyalty.
Advocacy is getting people who have good opinions of your organization to speak others on its behalf, to convince other people of its value.
Stare at these definitions long enough and I think that even they start to get a bit blurry around the edges 😉
It is worth considering that in a marketing framework, advertising, promotion public relations and publicity are part of the marketing communications mix – which according to Kotler and Keller in A framework for marketing management (2009, p. 256) is:
the means by which firms attempt to inform, persuade and remind consumers – directly or indirectly – about the products and brands they sell. They represent the “voice” of the company and brand and are a good way to establish a dialogue and build relationships with consumers”.
The other parts of the marketing communications mix are events, direct marketing, interactive marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and personal selling.
Because these elements that make up the marketing communications mix are the parts of marketing that we usually see, it tends to dominate our view of what marketing actually is.
And just to add to any confusion, I was chatting to a colleague at work about where public relations fitted into marketing – i.e. it’s a component of marketing. Well apparently according to public relations theory, marketing is a subset of public relations!