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Choosing a Degree: The Difference Between Public Relations and Marketing

Business people shaking hands

Marketing and public relations (PR) degrees often involve convergent subject matter, and for good reason. They can fall under similar industry categories in the workforce, and certain elements of these positions overlap, especially in the digital space. It's easy to see why they're often lumped together, but there are fundamental differences between both fields that students should consider before choosing a career path.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing applies to activities that encourage a positive impact on sales performance. The goal of marketing is to support a sales effort by promoting a product or service through the use of specific strategies and tactics to attract customers and clients. Marketers plan and execute advertising campaigns, promote product launches, and keep up with industry trends through regular market research. Students planning a career in marketing learn to successfully promote businesses and reach new clients in a sales-focused manner.

What Is Public Relations?

While many PR professionals adopt certain marketing roles or activities, the distinguishing difference between PR and marketing is each practice's end goal. While marketing focuses on sales and growing business, PR focuses on brand reputation and fostering positive relationships with external audiences. Generally, PR requires a more specific education and skillset than a general marketing degree provides. Those who work in PR often speak on behalf of a company in press conferences and stakeholder meetings, and daily tasks may include writing press releases, communicating with media outlets, and ensuring that various publics are supportive and optimistic about their brand.

The Benefits of a Public Relations Degree

While a marketing or public relations degree can yield strong potential for a lucrative and fulfilling career path, there are advantages to choosing a PR education. Since it's more specialized, it gives graduates a more specific, niche understanding of an aspect of business communication that generalists can't offer. There's a universal demand across industries for PR professionals as well, so the job outlook is promising. For the prospective marketing professional who demonstrates proficiency in both public and one-on-one communication, considering a career path in PR may be an ideal option.

You can start working toward a rewarding new career today. If you're considering pursuing a public relations degree, the Tulane School of Professional Advancement offers flexible programs and diverse learning platforms that make balancing work, life, and school convenient. Apply now to get started on your Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, and let it be you.

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