Marketing is how a company targets a product or service to its consumers. Marketers create strategies that address what is known as the "4 Ps of Marketing": Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Communications is part of the promotional aspect, using strategies such as public relations and advertising. It is also an important function within business to create and strengthen relationships both inside and outside the company and to handle crises. Marketing must include communications but is not, in and of itself, communications.


The American Marketing Association defines marketing as, “The activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” The marketing plan details the product – what makes it different, better, distinctive; sets the appropriate price of the product, outlining the strategy for covering costs, what the market will bear and how it compares with the competition; denotes the places or channels in which the product will be sold; details the promotional aspects, such as ads, PR, direct mail, out-of-home or point of purchase.


Communications uses persuasion through appropriate channels to targeted audiences. You might advertise a product, improve your image or handle a crisis with public relations, engage users via social media and issue financial and investment updates to the government and analysts. Communications studies in college may include aspects from all of these fields, including journalism, mass media and digital communication.

Public Relations Within Marketing and Communications

Public relations is an important aspect of communications and vital to any promotional aspect of marketing within the marketing plan. The Public Relations Society of America defines PR as, “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This includes both internal and external audiences. Internally includes employees and your sales force. External includes the media, shareholders and investors. Unlike advertising, public relations creates relationships without monetary exchange.

Advertising Within Marketing and Communications

Advertising is a communications approach using purchased channels, such as radio, television, outdoor or print advertising. Ad purchases are strategic decisions, analyzing habits of customers to determine what channel will be the most likely to reach your target market. Unlike public relations, it is easier to control advertising because you pay for your message to appear in a particular venue, at a particular times and at varying degrees of frequency. This makes it an important component of marketing promotion.