(Rising Stars is a series of thoughts, reflections and perspectives by the interns at Devine + Partners)
By Nicole Santini
Public relations and marketing traditionally were considered separate disciplines, but increasingly, the walls between them are coming down.
I recently had the pleasure to interview two professors at Temple University, Gregg Feistman, PR Associate Professor of Practice, and Dr. Jay Sinha, Marketing Associate Professor, to get their expert opinion and insights on how the two fields work together.
What is your opinion on combining Marketing and PR?
This question was the first one that I asked our two experts. Feistman expressed that when you’re doing one field, you’re also doing the other. He believes that the world of communications is converging, unlike the past where the two fields used to be more defined. Dr. Sinha has a similar viewpoint of convergence and believes that marketing has largely subsumed public relations. His analogy: “Marketing is an ocean; PR is a river.” In other words, PR is a path of information and stories that leads to the greater pool of marketing.
What are the biggest overlaps you have seen?
Feistman says he has “done everything” when it comes to PR and marketing, so he has witnessed some big overlaps. He says that PR was more defined in the past, in respect to marketing. For example, marketing used to take care of brochures, but PR is also capable of doing them. He also thinks that the overlapping trend will continue and that the gap between marketing and PR will slowly close because of these similar job descriptions and tasks. This is like Sinha’s point that the biggest overlap he has seen between the fields is when they deal with branding and brand communications because both disciplines work closely with these concepts.
Does combining PR and marketing allow you to consider both the story and the analytics behind the brand?
“Absolutely” was Feistman’s confident response when asked this question about the story and analytics behind a brand. This question was an important one to ask because it backs up the point that marketing and PR heavily rely on each other to complete different tasks and assignments within the corporate world. While we see big differences between the two fields because of their niche expertise in storytelling and analytics, it is important to note that in today’s world analytics will continue to become more important, causing the gap to close even more between marketing and PR.
Do you think marketing students should have to take a PR course, and vice versa?
Feistman thinks that marketing and PR majors would benefit from taking courses in the opposite major because both industries need each other to survive. He says he would “love it” if he saw this occur at Temple because business students could benefit from knowing PR essentials. Feistman also notes that “everything is a business” and business courses could truly benefit PR majors at Temple University. Also, the collaboration between the faculty at Temple University on a research level would improve, he says, while giving a leg up for students in both majors.
Coming from a marketing perspective, Sinha suggested that marketing majors should have the option of taking PR courses because PR is becoming more important as time goes on and is weaving its way into the marketing field. Sinha added that greater collaboration would be beneficial because of the number of potential jobs and internships that are out there for public relations students.
Overall, it is very important for students in marketing and public relations to have a mutual understanding of each other because, like it or not, the lines between the two are increasingly blurred as companies seek to create better messages and find new ways to get those messages out, while using marketing strategies and deeper analytics to get customers to take action.
(Nicole Santini is a junior at Temple University, with a major in marketing and a minor in management information systems. To apply to be a D+P internship, see this link.)