PR and Social Media Marketing : Difference in Execution

Social Media Marketing and Public Relations are considered as the most effective marketing tools to create and manage a brand image. Both exhibit immense outreach, but have different campaign objectives, marketing techniques and engagement tactics.

With the advent of social media, the marketing paradigm changed to a great extent. Initially, it was just PR that was relied upon to build and manage client-stakeholder relationships. The changes brought about by social networks have influenced the way corporates are engaging themselves with the public at large. If we compare the modern day PR strategies with social media marketing, we would notice the two are independent of one another.

Social Media Marketing targets a much larger audience than PR. In public relations, the focus is on establishing and maintaining relationships with a select target audience which includes influential clients, investors groups, business partners and to some extent with the customers. Whereas, social networks work on the entire customer base, which include both existing as well as potential customers.

Considering the audience segment and the influential reach involved in Social Media and PR, it may seem easier to comment on the estimated time of the overall marketing efforts. In other words, public relations is passive as compared to social media marketing. For instance, a PR campaign executed through a national TV programme or a press release follows a predetermined strategy, wherein the execution of an action or communication is targeted to a selected audience. Though PR is also an ongoing activity, it can be turned on and off as per the campaign’s requirement. Unlike PR, social media marketing is a slow build that requires sustained effort over time to make an impact on the masses to draw attention, traffic, and sales for a company.

Generally speaking, the prime objective in social media marketing campaigns is not about just the promotion of a new product or service. The consistency in audience’s impression of a company’s brand across the social media must be maintained in all the communications. If we talk about online post by the CEO of an organization on a Blog, Twitter or Facebook, the voice behind it adds credibility to the corporate identity. A similar message by another Board Member of that organization will not have the same effect. Hence the focus here is on the single voice behind the business.

Plenty of similarities can be drawn out between social media marketing and public relations, as both deal with business relationship management, to an extent. The differentiating factors between the two can be summarized on the scale of operating the campaigns, the focus on the communication and the continuity of the targeted efforts.