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November 12, 2013


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Adam Miller

I never realized there was such a huge difference in the two until I started my public relations class this fall. I didn't expect social media to play such a huge role. We are using your book in the class.

David Meerman Scott

Adam, While there are some PR professors who understand the new rules, many do not. So good for you to figure out the differences.


I took a class of PR and the teacher was adamant that the the traditional media is the way to go, ignoring all of the new ones. This kind of people wouldn't last long in a real job.

Jean OToole

Adam, I loved your book (New Rules...)! Truely inspired me, my job is PR, however, I didn't "grow up" in PR, I fell into it so I guess I'm not pigeon holed to the old rules, but I feel a shift of "in your face marketing" to let me support your mission. SM is new to me and moves so fast! I'm having anxiety that I can't keep up and am very overwhelmed! How do I know I'm going in the right direction and going fast enough?


So David, I'm curious how you'd differentiate public relations from content marketing, or just marketing in general. The lines are, of course, blurred. Is there a point in having different terminology when it all falls under the umbrella of communicating with your audience?

Susan Payton


@Susan above: You'll find that PR and marketing are increasingly working closer, especially with the rise of digital content/marketing and social media. I would say that PR is a function that supports marketing. In corporate settings, you'll find "marketing communications" being used as a job title more often; a blend of marketing and PR that both fall under the umbrella of communications.

Grant Crowell

Thanks for this insightful article and the choice picture, David. I would like to hope the term "public relations" can evolve into something more appropriate for the values that you share, such as "personal relations." That would offer a much better distinction from media relations. Media relations is about going viral, while personal relations is about being helpful.


Agree. One. Hundred. Per. Cent.:)

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for these comments. I was in Colonia, Uruguay all day and had an evening party here in Buenos Aires so was unable to get to the blog.

toscana - you should demand your money back for that class!

Jean - We're all making this stuff up as we go along. Always in a revolution we struggle to find the right way. Keep pushing forward and anything that works, do it again!

Egg and Synocure - I do think they are converging online - so much so that I would not have two departments. I would have a media relations expert though. However in an offline world, PR and marketing are still separate.

Trevor - from a pioneer like you, I appreciate it, mate!

Alex Yong

Thank goodness we're making the rules up as we go along because I'll never know who made up the old rules. The professor mentioned by toscana is probably a very frightened person hoping that the old rules won't go away. That's unrealistic. Everything changes. Anyway, this quote always makes me smile. "Advertising is saying you're good. PR is getting someone else to say you're good." - Jean-Louis Gassee. I'm not saying it's the definition of PR, it just makes me smile. Thank you for this article David.


But it's also a lot more than content, David. it's behaviour too, See http://www.chelgate.com/public-relations/


Jean - Not "growing up" in PR is an advantage now because it has changed so much. The shift is NOT to "in your face marketing". It is to developing relationships instead. To tame the anxiety, define your goals, determine where the client's audience is, figure out what they want and give it to them.

Many will be surprised at a recent focus on social networks of basically sharing pretty pictures and short videos. This is used to grow your audience. People want to be entertained. They interact and share specific types of content. Tools like Infinigraph surface what is being shared within a vertical so brands can use what is already viral to connect, They keep people interacting so they become memorable and stay top-of-mind when they're ready to buy.

Even Twitter is becoming image and video focused in their recent design change. Wise users can increase appeal by retweeting and manually adding visually appealing content. Favor that over text alone.

Once you do the research that identifies the top places your target audience is active, you can feel confident you are prioritizing where you spend your time. Just remember this can change over time, so you need to revisit it periodically.

David Meerman Scott

GrowMap - Well said. Thanks for jumping in.


Hi David,

Thank you for the warm welcome. We have Alex Yong to thank for my stopping by. He sent me the link to your post on Skype. Alex became very interested in PR due to the large number of pitches he receives through Cision. Our Blogger Mastermind group discusses guest post and PR requests often. Many are so poorly done that we mostly ignore them.

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