What are Marketing, Branding, Public Relations, Social Media and Advertising?

I can understand why people have questions about the difference in marketing, public relations, branding, social media and advertising. They all are aiming to do the same thing but in different ways or through different platforms. I hope this will help you understand it!


Marketing is how your company increases awareness and creates behavior change to your desired audience. It’s how you promote and sell your products or services. The traditional marketing mix involves the 4 Ps: product, place, price, and promotion.

  • Product: what you are selling. For “product” to be successful, you’ll need to think about packaging, design and messaging. This is where branding comes into play and it’s described more below.
  • Place: where you are selling it. For “place” to be successful, you’ll need to think about your markets, distribution channels and target audience. Who are you trying to reach and where can you reach them?
  • Price: at what price are you selling it. For “price” to be successful, you’ll need to think about the value of the product – the value to you and the value to your customer.
  • Promotion: how you are getting people to buy it. This can involve strategies like email marketing, SEO, inbound marketing, event marketing, public relations, social media and advertising. A few of these are explained more below.


Branding involves all the design and messages you attach to your company and/or product. It’s commonly described as the promise you’re giving to customers. Branding involves your logo, tagline, company mission, company persona, benefits to the customer, etc. This is important because it’s how your audience sees you and your product.


Public relations is how you interact with your audience. Under public relations, media relations involves the strategies to help journalists, bloggers, and reporters stay informed about what’s going on with your company.

  • This is earned media because you are not paying for it through an exchange of dollars and you cannot ultimately control what is said about your company or products. It sometimes does incur a cost to you through providing complimentary products.
  • You’ll see public relations in play when you see a restaurant review, promotion for an event, or mention about a new product. The writer has chosen to invest their time in writing about you and give his/her honest opinion because they believe it will benefit their readers. Some argue this is more beneficial than advertising, though you cannot control the message, because it is organic.


Social media is all the online platforms you can use to connect to your audience. Social media is beneficial because you are meeting your fans and your ideal audience where they are. You’re showing up in an environment that they have set up and opted in. Social media is also a place to attract new fans and patrons. The most popular social channels include: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. A regular and consistent engagement is necessary to do social media well.


Advertising is paid media. From print ads to Facebook ads to sponsored blog posts, you control the message and look in your advertising. These days, you can also target your ads to specific ages, locations, and interests. If you have an eye-catching offer, this is a way to draw your target audience in. In other advertising, like those who run commercials during the Super Bowl, the ad is also for brand recognition and creating brand loyalty.

This is a taste of what can be used to help grow your business. No matter what you call your tactics, a thoughtful strategy is what drives growth. While it usually requires a combination of these strategies for ultimate success, some companies invest in one to propel them. Stay tuned for more about what strategies your company should use.

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