What's The Difference Between Marketing and PR?

by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan

File Under: Getting Media Attention & PR, Marketing Your Music

One question we're often asked when we speak at events is "What's the difference between marketing and PR?" While many musicians think they're the same, they're actually quite different. And as a musician, you need to know why in order to build awareness for you and your music effectively.


In our book, we dedicate separate chapters to marketing and PR (public relations). We teach them as separate classes in music business schools. And we recommend you have different people on your team to handle each of them.

So, what is the difference between them and why do you need to do both?

If you were reading a blog, the ads are the result of marketing, while the articles are PR. In short, marketing uses your words and it usually costs money (think advertising). But with PR, you are being covered by a journalist, podcaster, or other media and it's up to them as to what to say about you.

Marketing in a Nutshell

Marketing involves researching, targeting, and communicating to a specific audience to raise awareness about you. From a music perspective, what you're selling is you, your music, and your shows. Marketing builds from a solid persona. This persona is centered around you and includes your logo, graphics, photos, the personality and character behind your web presences, and how you dress and act. In a lot of ways, this is what the PR will cover. Once you have these ingredients you can put together a marketing campaign which has a goal of raising awareness of you and your music to a particular audience or market segment. Advertising is part of marketing, but that's just one way to get your message to your audience among many.

PR in a Nutshell

PR is the art of getting exposure to audiences to raise awareness of you and your music via the media. One of the most effective techniques include piggybacking on topics of public interest or the news to get mentions. Since people usually pay more attention to PR than marketing it seems more genuine since someone the audience trusts is talking about you and your music. This means the most effective of the two costs $0; it just takes time and effort (unless you hire a publicist.) Once you learn the techniques, PR is a perfect way for musicians just starting out. Just with marketing, you'll want your persona work defined and put together before attempting since if it's not well-defined, what the media may cover about you may not match what you want them to see. Advertising is useful later after you're established and have a particular message to promote and have established your brand.

Although both techniques try to influence people, PR has more power for two reasons:

  • Few believe you when you say how great your music is (marketing), but if other people are saying it about you, then the message about how great you are has more credibility.

  • PR gets eyeballs. A lot of marketing efforts get ignored. As one of our favorite business friends explained: "Isn't it funny, one of [these techniques] costs nothing and means everything and the other means nothing and costs everything?"

The downsides to PR include the fact that you have to influence others to talk about you and it's in their words, not yours. Although experienced publicists try to get journalists to use your words, the risk is that they might decide to say something negative.

Keep in mind marketing can bolster PR since advertising helps create recognition and awareness. If they have seen advertising about your music, you'll become more familiar to them and there's a better chance that the person will pay attention and cover you.

Once you know the difference between marketing and PR, you're in a better position to plan out how you'll raise awareness and get your name and music out there.

Want to Start?

Begin with a persona. Then gear up a Get Heard campaign. Be sure to use the simple but powerful technique we outline in our article one simple idea to generate tons of marketing and PR opportunities and be sure to do these six things once you get coverage to maximize it. Once you generate some exposure you can then consider advertising your releases and events. That is, when you know for a fact each marketing dollar you spend can bring back $2 or more in revenue.


#marketing #PR #getheard #business

Photo credit: Arturo de Albornoz

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