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Marketing vs PR: Which is better?

What’s the difference between marketing and PR? We explore both professions in detail with this guide.

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If you’re hoping for a graduate career in PR or marketing, it’s important to understand the distinction. Although closely related, these two disciplines have slightly different functions. So, to help you decide if marketing or PR is the route you want to take, we’re going to explore the meaning of these terms and demonstrate how they are used in practice within the working world.


What is marketing?

Marketing is the umbrella term which includes advertising and PR. All of these methods are focused on promoting awareness of a product, service or individual. Many companies have their own marketing team which compliments other parts of the organisation such as sales and product. A career in marketing involves understanding the target audience and using different marketing practices to engage with this group for the purpose of promoting whatever it is the business is trying to sell.


A day in the life of a marketer might involve running campaigns on social media to increase engagement and interaction. These efforts must then be tracked and turned into a report which can be presented to other parts of the company.


This kind of information about an audience will be helpful to the whole business, as although marketing differs from sales in the tactics used, the end goal is usually the same, to drive revenue.  Other responsibilities that a role in marketing might involve:


  • Managing budgets
  • Data analysis
  • Market research
  • Generating creative ideas
  • Designing and sending emails


What are some of the specialisations in marketing?

However, there are several different spheres within marketing, which nowadays typically fall under the realm of digital marketing as they are all performed online:


  • SEO (search engine optimization) – working with search engines and keywords to improve the position of a website and its content.
  • Content marketing – using content to build a relationship with the audience and represent the brand.
  • PPC (Pay-per-click marketing) – paid content to attract users to a site, these ads typically appear on search engines and other websites.
  • Video marketing – using video to convey a brand or client’s message and engage audiences.
  • Social media marketing – promoting a website’s content on social media platforms, running campaigns and interacting with users.


If you choose to study marketing or you decide to work in a marketing role, there are many ‘buzzwords’ that you will hear, but may not understand at first. Here are a few common terms that are commonly used by marketers:


  • Organic – efforts to attract users without paying
  • Paid – money is paid to attract users to a site
  • CPC – cost per click
  • ROI – return on investment
  • CTR – click-through rate (number of users who click on a specific link)
  • CTA – call to action (an instruction for a reader e.g. download/sign up)
  • CRM – customer relationship manager


What do graduates earn in marketing?

As a graduate, you can expect your starting salary as a marketing executive to be between GBP 18,000 and GBP 22,000. With experience, this can increase to GBP 30,000 per year.


Senior marketing executives can earn between GBP 30,000 and GBP 45,000 with several years of experience. If you commit to marketing and become a director, you can earn anything from GBP 60,000 and GBP 100,000. Of course, these figures will vary depending on the country and sector (Source: Prospects).


Where to study marketing abroad?

So, where is the best place to study marketing? Here are a few institutions to check out for marketing degrees:



Other relevant degrees for marketing

But you don’t have to study marketing to work in the field, as employers will be looking for other relevant degrees such as:



What is PR?

The main intention of PR or public relations is to increase awareness of a brand, person, product or service within the media. In a marketing role, the final goal is to increase sales through user engagement whereas PR is more about gaining positive press coverage and improving a company or client’s reputation. Basically, PR seeks to gain exposure and add credibility to a brand without needing to drive sales, as is the case with marketing.

So, what can you expect to be doing in a PR role? Typical day-to-day responsibilities may include:


  • Planning PR campaigns
  • Writing and editing press releases
  • Building strong relationships with stakeholders
  • Monitoring the news
  • Editing and producing publicity brochures/magazines
  • Organising events e.g. press conferences
  • Attending client meetings and present reports
  • Managing comments on behalf of a company e.g. in a crisis situation/responding to bad press


What type of PR jobs are there?

You can either work at a PR agency or within a PR team at a specific organisation. Many companies have their own PR team in a variety of different sectors so it’s up to you to decide where your interests lie. For example:


  • Finance
  • Charity
  • Local government
  • B2B (business to business)
  • Political organisations


What are the graduate salaries for PR like?

Taking the UK as an example, PR officers can earn starting salaries of GBP 18,000 to GBP 24,000 while senior PR officers can earn GBP 25,000 to GBP 40,000. PR directors can earn up to GBP 100,000 per year, depending on the type of company or brand (Source: Prospects).


Where are the top destinations study PR abroad?

Where can you study PR? There are several types of qualifications on offer but ideally, it’s a degree you want. Here are a few universities offering courses in PR:



Other relevant degrees

As with marketing, you don’t necessarily have to study a degree in PR to successfully enter the industry. There are other related degrees that will equip you with the skills you need:



As you can see, it’s not necessarily that marketing is better or worse than PR, but they just have slightly different purposes. It really depends on which you find most appealing and where your skills are most relevant. If you’re not sure about which direction to take, you can check out our article on choosing a course and career to suit your personality.   


Or alternatively, you can use our course matcher tool to find a course and university based on your preferences.

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