Marketing, Communications, PR and Advertising: What's the Difference?

Jul 26, 2021

The terms marketing, communications, public relations and advertising are commonly confused. Although they do have similarities, each field plays a distinct role in how a business operates. Most importantly, these four fields of business all come together to play a key role in the success of an organization. Let's learn more about each of these four careers paths.


Marketing is the strategic analysis of identifying and segmenting a target market. This process includes identifying customer needs and determining how to best meet the customers' desires. In order to identify customers' needs, a marketing professional must look at both primary and secondary data to best inform the company’s strategic process.

Careers include: Marketing Director, Research Analyst, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist and Consumer Insight Specialist. If you enjoy strategic analysis and working with data, this is the career for you!


Communications is how a company speaks to its core customers. Informed by the work that is completed by marketers, those working in the fields of communications will use data and analytics to craft messages that best relate to the company's target audience. Communications efforts are empowered by emotion to make consumers feel a specific response.

Careers include: Social Media Manager, Copywriter, Business Reporter and Brand Manager. This is definitely a career to consider if you enjoy storytelling, connecting with an audience and adding a personal touch!

Public Relations

Public Relations involves ensuring that a company's desired image is correctly portrayed to and acknowledged by the public. Those working in this field ensure that all company actions are consistent with the brand's core message. They play a key role in the public’s understanding of the company’s core identity.

Careers include: Public Affairs Specialist, Community Relations Coordinator, Spokesperson and Media Relations Manager. If you enjoy communicating directly with others and promoting brand image, this is the career for you!


Advertising is the process of building awareness for the product or service that your company offers. Those who specialize in advertising will take data from marketing and will specifically advertisements to their target audience. Some marketing and advertising positions will overlap, but it is important to remember their distinct roles.

Careers include: Marketing Manager, Graphic Designer, Creative Director and Event Director. Marketing is the career for you if you enjoy being creative, working with products and services and crafting a memorable impression!


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