OPINION: How does PR fit into the marketing mix?

Becca Tee

Becca Tee, Digital PR Lead at Repeat Digital, talks about why PR and marketing go hand in hand.


A marketing manager may have a wealth of tools and tactics in their arsenal, but there’s one area of marketing that’s often overlooked: public relations (PR).

When you talk to businesses about PR and marketing, they tend to have one of two thoughts. The first thought is that PR and marketing are the same thing; the second is that they’re separate entities, with completely different goals and approaches.

Actually, it’s somewhere in the middle.

The two disciplines effectively work towards the same goals – but through the use of different techniques. Brand awareness, reputation and trust is at the heart of both marketing and PR, so if you’re not collaborating and aligning these efforts, you’re missing out on an opportunity to create an even stronger, cohesive brand that resonates with your target audience(s).

Marketing managers may have overlooked – or not even considered – PR as part of their marketing mix.

PR tends to get sidelined in favour of immediate results. This may be for one or more of the following reasons:


There are other quicker wins

Measuring the direct impact of PR can be tricky compared to other strategies, but if you know what you’re looking for then you’ll have data coming out of your ears. The main takeaway here is that PR is more of a long-term strategy, where consistency pays off. Remaining consistently present can either help you keep up with your competitors – or stay ahead of them.


Lack of time to execute an effective PR strategy

Marketing managers wear so many hats these days,  finding themselves often in situations where they have to prioritise one thing over another. And, as previously mentioned, PR takes consistent investment to start seeing results.

One tactic PR professionals tend to use as part of an overall strategy is reactive PR. This involves monitoring and responding to what’s going on in the news, and any relevant journalist requests. Many marketing managers just don’t have time to keep a constant eye on what’s newsworthy and then create and provide comments in a timely manner, making sure to beat the competition to it.


Lack of expertise to drive PR activity

Although there are many overlapping skills that marketers and PRs possess, marketing managers may not know where to start when it comes to building media lists, vetting publications and outreaching to journalists. PR specialists do this day in and day out and are able to effectively cut through the noise with their pitches.


Unaware of the wider benefits

Coverage is great, but if it includes a link back to your website? Well, you’ve hit the jackpot. Links are seen as a trust signal, showing Google that your site is authoritative and trustworthy, which in turn, boosts your website in the search engine results pages (also known as SERPs). And if there’s a backlink, you can also track referral traffic and leads that have come from your publicity using GA4.

The good news is any business can start implementing PR. It doesn’t require a complete overhaul; there are small steps marketing managers can take to introduce PR into the mix.


Define roles and responsibilities

The first thing to consider is who will be accountable for what. If your company already has a PR department – but they tend to function separately – then it’s time to sit down together and discuss how you can align and work towards shared goals. If not, then consider whether you can delegate some of your day-to-day tasks to other team members. This will free you up to take on some PR responsibilities. Or you may wish to delegate certain PR tasks to different members of your team. If you’re the sole marketer in your company then it can be quite tricky, as the introduction of PR can mean the de-prioritisation of other activities. If that can be done without any negative effects then great, but if it can’t then you may want to consider partnering with a freelancer or digital marketing agency.


Develop a comprehensive strategy 

A marketing strategy should include PR. There may be times where the two services are working on something different, but for the most part campaigns should be synchronised for maximum impact. Think about what you’re hoping to get out of each campaign, from both a marketing and PR perspective, and the ways in which you’ll measure performance. If you aren’t fulfilling the PR function yourself, make sure you have regular communication with the person or team that is. Two (or more) heads are better than one, as they say! This gives both teams time to discuss ongoing campaigns, share insights, and brainstorm ideas.


Create a list of dream publications

Before you start outreaching (or ‘pitching’), it’s important to know where your audiences are. Make a list of five to ten dream publications and put some research into the types of topics and formats that each site usually covers.

Some sites will only cover news, for example, and never opinion pieces – in which case there’s no point reaching out to that publication offering them some thought leadership. Remember – not every campaign will be relevant to every media outlet; it’s a case of taking a bespoke approach. Slow and steady wins the race.


Learn to spot relevant opportunities

Ideally, you should be reading about what’s going on in your sector every day. Bookmark different finance publications to check on a regular basis, and set up alerts for any mention of relevant keywords, i.e. ‘banking’ or ‘pension’. Google Alerts and TalkWalker Alerts are valuable here. The Twitter (or X) hashtag #journorequest is also a good place to check for journalists looking for finance experts to feature in their articles. If you spot an opportunity, find the journalist’s contact details (via the website they write for, or social media), and pitch to them. As a basic template, you can use the following:


Hi <first name>,

I saw on Twitter/X that you’re looking for an expert to comment on <topic>.

This is something I’d love to help you with, if you’re still open to contributions?

<Name and job title> is a <topic> specialist at <business name>, and can talk with confidence on <something more specific relating to the journalist’s initial request>.

If you’d be happy to receive a comment, please let us know any word counts or deadlines you may have. 

Best regards, 

<your name>


In conclusion 

Ultimately, PR should not be a tactic you dip in and out of when you have some spare time. Rather, it should be a consistent part of your overall marketing strategy, working alongside other components to amplify your business’ brand message, build credibility and forge stronger connections with your target audiences. It also gives you an edge over competitors who may have overlooked PR, or are operating in silos, with the two departments seen to have different roles and responsibilities within the company.

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