Many people often confuse marketing and public relations (PR). However, the difference between PR and marketing is fairly simple – PR handles the relations between a company and its various publics, such as the media, while marketing does not.

When trying to become well known, you need a lot more than an ad in a newspaper. You need the help of a PR specialist to promote you and your company to important people, such as magazine and newspaper editors and news producers. When you can tell your clients or prospective clients that you were featured in Life Insurance Selling magazine, or they can tune in to FOX 6 News every morning for your financial tips, you have received third-party endorsement and earned your status as an expert.

By creating good relations with the media, you can become a mini-celebrity in your own town. According to Dr. Glenn Broom, a professor of public relations at San Diego State University, public relations is the “management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.”

PR firms create campaigns or programs that will develop or maintain a positive image for their clients. Many tactics and strategies can ensure that the media and the public always see the successes of an organization. If a company finds itself in a rough patch or in the mist of a scandal, there are ways for practitioners to lessen the negative blow to its public image. PR firms serve as a proactive and reactive buffer for a company or organization.

In contrast, according to Dr. Broom, marketing is “the management function that identifies human needs and wants, offers product and services to satisfy those demands, and causes transactions that deliver product and services in exchange for something of value to the provider.”

In marketing, there is no damage control. No one is charged with making sure the company is consistently viewed in a favorable light. Generally, marketing teams don’t concentrate on the media. Instead, they focus on moving a product or service to satisfy customers’ needs.

Boutique PR

As consultants to large and small companies, PR firms come in many sizes. They can be large for bigger clients, or they can be small boutique shops for clients who have specific needs. My firm, Crittenden Communications, Inc. (CCI) is an example of a boutique shop. For the past six years, CCI has created small media campaigns for producers in their local markets. Numerous clients have gained recognition as financial advisors in local newspapers, magazines, and news stations. These media campaigns are a part of CCI’s Published Author Program, which works exclusively with financial advisors to help communities become more financially savvy.

Market Uncertainty
Last year left us with the ideal environment for local producers to shine as financial experts. In 2007, foreclosures reached record numbers, leaving communities across America with empty houses and dead lawns. The credit crunch, unemployment, and interest rates all have created a volatile market and pushed individuals and households into greater financial stress and uncertainty. People are looking for guidance through this unstable market, and they all can look to you. We have booked clients on news stations discussing, “how to protect your home equity,” “tax saving tips,” and “raising money-smart kids.” These topics can help communities survive the tough times.

PR professionals know that every client and every community is different. Through research, PR teams can learn about the special needs and topics that are important to each city. A local media campaign should reflect the character of the city and be tailored to its unique needs.

By staying up-to-date with the most recent market trends and business news, public relation specialists can keep their clients a step ahead of the game. The Published Author program can find opportunities and relevant topics for producers who engage in public speaking and have an interest in writing financial columns. If a client has trouble thinking of a good article to write, the PR team can be ready with topics and articles that they know will be successful.

In such a highly competitive industry, it’s imperative that producers separate themselves from the pack.

“It brings us to a higher level of authority in the public’s eye,” says Jacob Cooper, CFP, CSA, CWPP, CAPP, co-owner of Total Wealth Management, LLC in San Diego. Cooper is starting his second year with CCI and is a regular guest on Fox 6 News San Diego as a financial expert. “When people come to our seminars, we have a few of our published articles and notes about our TV appearances in the attendee’s folders. It establishes us as trusted, public icons in our community.”

Mark Crittenden, President, Crittenden Communications, Inc. (CCI), is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism, emphasis in Public Relations-News Editorial, minor in advertising. He has taught college-level advertising, won awards in the public relations and advertising fields, and been a curriculum advisor to educational facilities.

He currently works with producers across the country – “Helping Producers Produce More” and to standout from their competition using branding to promote their unique selling propositions.