Marketing VS Public Relations (PR): Which Degree is Right for You?

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Traditionally, a distinctive divide existed between the marketing and public relations (PR) professions. Marketing was always thought to be about promoting a product, and PR about maintaining reputation. But neither profession could escape each other- both were intertwined and crossed paths one way or the other. 

Over the years, the prominence of digital media technologies, and the use of social media to enforce digital communication strategies has been rising exponentially. As more companies move their communication to social media, the lines between marketing and PR are not as clear cut as it once used to be. 

Social media sits comfortably with both departments, leaving marketing and PR professionals no choice but to incorporate skills from both spheres and carry out shared activities. Both are inevitable, and equally important aspects to the business in their own right- both professions facilitate the overall goals and objectives of a business. They cannot and should not replace each other completely.

But what is it like to pursue a career in either of these fields? Because the lines between marketing and PR have become so blur, it is crucial to understand both the similarities and differences between the professions, determine where you and your interests fit in, and make an informed decision before committing to a course.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a broad, umbrella term which carries a number of different sub categories. Subsequently, marketing majors spend a lot of time studying all its facets before deciding to specialise and hone on a particular area of study. 

The marketing process often starts with market research, where the marketers first identify and categorise target customer groups, and study their needs and wants. Armed with this knowledge, they create products and services to meet the specific requirements of the existing and potential customers. Next, they utilise the media and advertising as tools to promote their products and services, aiming to meet sales goals and make profits.

What Will Your Roles and Responsibilities Be Working as a Marketing Professional?

  • Create and oversee fool proof marketing plans and campaigns to achieve marketing objectives
  • Work with the creative department to create ads
  • Generate sales for a product/service
  • Carry out market research to stay up-to-date on the latest trends
  • Drive the direction of the marketing campaigns by thoroughly researching the industry, clients, competitors and other external factors

What are the Skills You Need to Have to Excel at a Career in Marketing?

  • Data analysis skills and knowledge of data analysis software
  • Content marketing
  • Utilising social networks, email lists and other data sources to generate leads
  • Creative ability to leverage digital technology to convey messages (graphic design, writing ability, video production, etc)
  • Social media knowledge

Career Opportunities with a Marketing Degree

  • Marketing Executive
  • Social Media Manager
  • Digital Marketing Manager
  • Digital Communications Officer
  • Digital Analyst

General Entry Requirements to Study Marketing in the UK

Prerequisite: SPM/ IGCSE/ O Level (or Equivalent)

Grade C in English and Mathematics

GCE/ A Level (or Equivalent)

Grade C or above in 3 subjects

International Baccalaureate (IB)

32 points

IELTS

6.5 overall score, with no components lower than 5.5

*The requirements may vary among universities, for inquiries on other entry requirements, contact Excel Education

Recommended Universities to Study Marketing in the UK

1. University of Greenwich

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Management (Hons)

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£14,500

2. UWE Bristol

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing (Hons)

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£13,500

3. University of Hertfordshire

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing (Hons)

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£13,500

4. De Montfort University

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing (Hons)

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£14,250

5. Gloucestershire University

5. glou

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing (Hons)

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£21,750

What is Public Relations (PR)?

Public relations professionals are mainly concerned with two things: cultivating a favourable brand image for the organisation or their client, and initiating and sustaining a fruitful relationship with the organisation/ client’s publics*. 

(*) Publics are defined in Public Relations as people who are interested in the activities of the organisation.

What Will Your Roles and Responsibilities Be Working as a PR Professional?

  • Liaising with personnel from all departments to plan activities and events
  • Manage relationships with all publics (internal and external)
  • Build networks of information with crucial people, such as the media and information outlets
  • Craft messages (this includes writing and editing press releases, newsletters, reports, articles, delivering speeches to clients, press conferences and more)
  • Creative production 
  • Gathering information, carrying out research to provide direction to the company’s brand management efforts

What are the Skills You Need to Have to Excel at a Career in PR?

  • Communication skills
  • Creative ability to leverage digital technology to convey messages (graphic design, writing ability, video production, etc)
  • Diplomacy
  • Ability to think on your feet and act quick (think like a journalist)
  • Undeniable focus and discipline 
  • Active listening skills
  • Good Judgement

Career Opportunities with a PR Degree

  • Public Relations Executive
  • Media Relations Officer
  • Corporate Communications Executive
  • Marketing Communications Executive
  • Social Media Executive
  • Publicist

General Entry Requirements to Study PR in the UK

Prerequisite: SPM/ IGCSE/ O Level (or Equivalent)

Grade C in English and Mathematics

GCE/ A Level (or Equivalent)

Grade C or above in 3 subjects

International Baccalaureate (IB)

32 points

IELTS

6.5 overall score, with no components lower than 5.5

*The requirements may vary among universities, for inquiries on other entry requirements, contact Excel Education

Recommended Universities to Study PR in the UK

1. Cardiff University

Programme

Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications

Duration

3 years (full-time)

Intakes 

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fees (2021)

£17,450

2. University of Leeds

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£20,250

3. University of Sussex

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications (Hons)

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£22,500

4. Swansea University

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations & Media (Hons)

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£15,400

5. Bournemouth University

Programme:

Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Communications with Public Relations

Duration:

3 years  (full-time)

Intakes:

September 2021

Indicative Annual Fee (2021)

£14,100

How Exactly Do Marketing and PR Overlap?

The inescapable reality is, you can’t do marketing without incorporating some aspects of PR, and you can’t do PR without incorporating some aspects of Marketing in it. Not only are both professions destined to be intertwined, they are also designed to compliment each other. 

A well established PR strategy is required to make the marketing efforts more credible. Selling a product if people are unable to connect with a brand can be extremely difficult. Efforts from both sides are required to facilitate a strong voice for a brand.  At the end of the day, both professions work towards the same end goal- the positive promotion of the company or the brand. 

Both marketing and PR professionals are required to flourish multiple skills. The key skill is to be a remarkable communicator, both written and verbally. In this digital age, it is also an incredibly important added advantage to be tech-savvy and know how to create content for various platforms- this includes graphic design abilities, video editing, writing and other visual communication elements. 

In addition, professionals in both industries must have noteworthy interpersonal skills, top of the mind industry knowledge, and should always stay on top of the latest trends.

What are the Significant Differences Between Marketing & PR Professions?

Despite the similarities, marketing and public relations are still very different at its core.

Marketing                      

PR

Supports sales

Supports the larger brand

Linked with numbers, finances, statistics

Linked with journalism, creative writing, communication

Entirely dependent on finances to run campaigns and advertisements

Usually free, as money is not required to get the media to publish something

Marketers are more proactive- they are allowed time to carry out research, analyze data, and come up with optimal campaigns

PR professionals are more reactive- they are required to mitigate crisis and deal with unfavorable publicity on the fly, in strategic ways by seizing on the right timing

Concerned with short-term sales goals

Concerned with long-term relationships with consumers and other publics

Handles advertising

Handles the press

Measured in sales, returns on investment, profits or losses- marketing is extremely quantitative

Measured in press clippings, shoutouts, awards or buzz created

The digital age has positively contributed to the increased number of people opting for careers in either marketing or PR. A combination of both majors (and each of them separately) provides so many lucrative opportunities.  

We hope this article gives you some insight into what it is like to study and pursue a career in both Marketing and Public Relations, and make a decision that suits both your personal and professional interests.

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About the Author

Rifqa Abdulla

angsty pisces

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