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Marketing Versus Public Relations


Disciplines of marketing and public relations are interconnected categories having a common origin from the theory of communication. For a comprehensive understanding of these phenomena, the specialist must be able to distinguish between them, which leads to the need to compare marketing and public events. According to Kitchen and Moss (2016), “marketing is charged with creating exchanges and satisfying needs (whether individual or organizational)” (para 1.). The same researchers also note that “public relations is the management function that identifies, establishes, and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the various publics on whom its success or its failure depends” (Kitchen & Moss, 2016, para. 1). The purpose of this literature review is to analyze and provide annotations of academic literature related to topics of marketing and public relations.

Understanding of Two Phenomena

Before comparing marketing and public relations, it is necessary to study their underlying principles and development history. That is why scientific sources related to the topics of fundamental terminology and chronology were read and analyzed in the framework of this study. The inclusion of academic data is due not only to the need to understand the current topic, but also to expand and refresh existing knowledge about marketing and public relations. It also applies to theories of strategic and business communication.

Basics of Strategic Communication

Before proceeding directly to the research of marketing and public relations, it is essential to study the area of knowledge to which these categories belong, namely, communicative theory. Van Ruler (2018) explores the principal components of both communication theory and strategic communication. The primary thesis of the study is that communication is “a process that is interactive by nature and participatory at all levels” and also “not necessarily two-way but omnidirectional diachronic” (Van Ruler, 2018, p. 367). The researcher also describes the formation of contextual meanings and the structure of management and negotiating.

Basics of Business Communication

Understanding the theory and basic terms of business communication is crucial for understanding the goals and methods of current research. It is due to the fact that marketing methodologically and academically is a branch of business communication. Dwyer and Hopwood (2019) describe the fundamental processes and norms of both written and oral business communication. In addition to theoretical material, the book has an analysis of twenty-three case studies, as well as individual questionnaires (Dwyer & Hopwood, 2019). The most visible negative feature of this scholarly work is the lack of perspective on the part of the employee.

Basics of Marketing

Comparison methodology implies knowledge of the basic principles and processes, as well as various nuances of marketing. In their academic book, Philip and Armstrong addressed the issue of describing and explaining marketing terminology and interaction mechanisms. It is important to note that the information is provided, taking into account the modern paradigm of the customer-value model (Philip & Armstrong, 2018). The authors also use visual techniques such as infographics to achieve the cognitive effect of the reader (Philip & Armstrong, 2018). However, researchers are more focused on standard marketing and pay little attention to the digital aspect of the discipline.

Basics of Digital Marketing

Despite the fact that the digital industry began to develop about twenty years ago, every year, these processes are increasingly accelerated and expanded through new technologies, providing new opportunities for diverse groups of people. Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick (2019) explore the structural chain and features of digital marketing, as well as the management of software and hardware. An exciting feature of this academic work is the presence of individual tasks whose purpose is to improve understanding of the theoretical material presented (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). Among the shortcomings, it can be noticed that researchers do not go beyond the digital segment.

History of Marketing

In studying the basics of marketing, one way or another, the question arises of how and why specific tools and types of relationships prevail in this area. The study of the phenomenon of marketing from a historical point of view allows the researcher to explain these and many other relevant issues. The editors Jones and Tadajewski (2016) compiled many works of various scientific figures into one digest that provides a complete chronology of marketing development. Researchers show how both progressive and regressive processes, such as technical inventions and warriors, have equally influenced marketing (Jones & Tadajewski, 2016). This work also has an extensive overview of a local evolution of marketing in various countries from the USA to China.

Basics of Public Relations

An understanding of the fundamental pillars and mechanisms of public relations is also necessary both in aspects of theory and practice. In his book, Theaker (2016) and other experts examine in detail how public relations are used in areas such as economics, politics, and the public environment. The author analyzes the relationship between these institutions and how modern technological advances enhance the significance of public relations (Theaker, 2016). In addition to the overview of the current status of public relations, there are also theories and hypotheses for the future development of this field and related techniques (Theaker, 2016). Nevertheless, there is lack of information about the topic under discussion in the digital field.

Basics of Digital Public Relations

Another study confirms the correlation between technological development and the increasing influence of public relations. Wright and Hinson (2017) conducted an analysis that took twelve years on how progress in the areas of hardware and software has changed the scale of public relations. It is worth noting that the researchers were guided by the methodology of a longitudinal analysis trend study (Wright & Hinson, 2017). The result is that over the past 12 years, the first places in public relations are occupied by such social networks as Facebook and Twitter (Wright & Hinson, 2017). Researchers also conducted a study on how social media has changed the modern organizational structure.

History of Publics Relations

As with marketing, there is a need to study the history of public relations to understand such a complex topic fully. In addition to providing a chronology of the formation of the sphere of public relations, Myers (2020) also analyzes the development of professions related to this phenomenon. The author also describes in detail the origins and relationships of this topic from the economic disciplines and humanities (Myers, 2020). The researcher is not limited to the study of the United States alone and explores public relations through the prism of global history. It is also worth noting the presence of a large number of examples of the practice of public relations.

Choice of the Main Methodology

Since the primary aim of this research is to compare marketing versus public relations, the methodology is mixed in nature, as both qualitative and numerical data are considered. As the academic work of Bose et al. (2017) shows, a process comparison may be as the primary research method in this context. Researchers prove their opinion by analyzing different variations of paper handling procedures (Bose et al., 2017). However, it is worth noting that the authors agree that this research method is not widespread in the scientific community and is of an innovative nature.

Significant research effectiveness of the comparative method can be seen in the example of another scholarly paper. Iankova et al. (2019) study the processes of usage of social media, which in the context of this research are related both to marketing and public relations. Eventually, the authors were able to categorize the apparent differences and determine causal relationships of differing effects. The disadvantage of academic work is that the research topic is particular and narrow.

Marketing versus Public Relations

Interconnections and Boundaries between Marketing versus Public Relations

It is no secret that marketing and public relations are the types of phenomena in which there are a large number of common concepts and processes. Gesualdi (2019) conducts a study on the complication of these relationships between the two areas connected with the emergence of social media. The authors come to the conclusion that social networks have led to significant conceptual shifts that blur the boundaries between the two business phenomena (Gesualdi, 2019). However, researchers note that specific frameworks and apparent differences still exist and will prevail in the foreseeable future.

Marketing Public Relations as a New Discipline

One more study continues the theme of joint theoretical and practical components of marketing and public relations that will be reviewed in this paragraph. Kitchen and Moss (2016), through interviews with marketing and public relations executives, highlighted their views on the spheres of influence of these two phenomena. The authors formulate the relationship between the two discussed topics as overlapping processes that go beyond each other due to or with the help of modern technologies (Kitchen & Moss, 2016). Based on the results, researchers are also discussing the emergence of a new business field, namely marketing public relations.

The Situation of Marketing and Public Relations from a Historical Perspective

A study of two concepts of marketing and public relations raises the question of at what point differences and similarities began to form. Dühring (2017) explores this topic in his book, approaching these two phenomena from the disciplines of philosophy and history. Through a meta-analysis, the author concludes that both marketing and public relations share a common theoretical basis (Dühring, 2017). The researcher also advises other specialists to conduct their future research on this topic from the perspectives of the sciences of communication and business studies (Dühring, 2017). It is important to note that the author discusses marketing and public relations within the frameworks of cultures of Western societies.

Marketing as the Quantitative Field among Public Research and Advertising

Some researchers have a similar opinion regarding the statuses of marketing and public relations, which is to consider them as equivalent phenomena with different orientations. For example, in her book Roberts (2018) claims that marketing and public relations, as well as advertising, are parallel categories within one framework of communication. While marketing focuses on the objectives of an economic and quantitative nature, public relations interact with qualitative and humanitarian phenomena (Roberts, 2018). The drawback of this work is that the author does not study the conceptual correlations between the topics discussed and advertising in detail.

Comparison of Ethics of Marketing and Public Relations

In addition to the study of internal factors, such as terms, concepts, and processes of marketing and public events, it is also necessary to compare external and related factors. Murphy et al. (2016) provide a modern list and explanation of ethical standards for most types of marketing activities and situations that may occur at the workplace and in the legal aspect. All this is accompanied by twenty diverse international examples related to ethical issues both in small enterprises and in corporations (Murphy et al., 2016). The authors note that the ethical marketing scope has increased significantly due to the fact that many cases related to public relations have been added.

Similar trends in the legal increase in responsibilities and rules can also be seen in the area of public relations ethics. Parsons (2016) describes the modern ethical paradigm both from an academic point of view and through the prism of personal experience. The authors also explain its origins, namely the development of technical devices, the emergence and spread of social media, and changes in the social climate (Parsons, 2016). Scientific work is mainly aimed at students and, therefore, does not consider complex marketing concepts and processes.

Marketing and Public Relations as Academic Disciplines

Another possible way to explain the differences and similarities between marketing and public relations may be their academic component. For example, Kumar (2015) explores the reasons for the change in the educational research approach from the value of the consumer and the customer value potential to customer profitability and marketing resources. The researcher comes to a similar conclusion that the vital vector of change is digital technology, namely, new ways of collecting and storing information (Kumar, 2015). These new opportunities have allowed researchers to study consumers individually, which contributed to the rise of new types of communication between producer and consumer.

The disciplinary situation in the field of scholarly public relations is different from scientific marketing. As the study by Ferguson (2018) shows, there is no unified scientific consensus among scholars in the academic field of public relations. Ferguson (2018) notes that despite a large number of studies, the discipline is experiencing a crisis of the theoretical component. The researcher proposes an agreement based on a paradigm focus as a possible solution to an existing problem (Ferguson, 2018). It may be the absence of a uniform theoretical guideline that is the source of the fact that public relations affect many scientific fields.

The Future of Marketing and Public Relations

As a literary review of various scholarly sources related to the topics of marketing and public relations shows, these phenomena affect each other. Therefore, the question arises of which paradigms will prevail in the marketing of the near and distant future. Rust (2019) argues that, in the first place, one should observe the factors associated with “artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet, and the expansion of networks” (p. 15). The researcher also suggests that the most relevant concepts for future marketing will be diversity, inclusiveness, and globalization (Rust, 2019). A possible disadvantage is that the author does not take into account the significance of social influence.

A shift in the direction of theory and practice from an internal organizational topic towards society is also observed in public relations. In addition to the technological factor that was described above, Valentini and Edwards (2019) discuss the significant influence of critical theory on the evolution of public relations. The results of the study show that public relations in the future will be on par with such fundamental institutions as politics, economics, and geopolitics (Valentini & Edwards, 2019). However, it is essential to note that the authors are mainly focused on theoretical and humanitarian components.

The Rationale for Additional Research

In the course of this literary review, several fundamental gaps in knowledge were identified that future studies should address. Only one source was identified that explores the shared history of the evolution of two disciplines, Reassessing the relationship between marketing and public relations: New Perspectives from the philosophy of science and history of thought. There were also no academic works exploring the foundations, ethics, and future of these phenomena through the prism of comparative techniques.


This work is a literary review of scientific sources that explores phenomena such as marketing and public relations. Annotations and justification for inclusion were provided for each academic work. Several critical information gaps have also been identified. These include the lack of comparative work on basic concepts and related branches such as ethics, as well as the future development of marketing and public relations. It is what served as a landmark for further study.


  1. Bose, R. J. C., van Dongen, B. F., & van der Aalst, W. M. (2017). Business process comparison: A methodology and case study. In Business information systems: 20th international conference, BIS 2017, Poznan, Poland, 2017, proceedings (pp. 253-267). Springer.
  2. Chaffey, D., & Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2019). Digital marketing. Pearson.
  3. Dühring, L. (2017). Reassessing the relationship between marketing and public relations: New perspectives from the philosophy of science and history of thought. Springer.
  4. Dwyer, J., & Hopwood, N. (2019). The business communication handbook. Cengage AU.
  5. Ferguson, M. A. (2018). Building theory in public relations: Interorganizational relationships as a public relations paradigm. Journal of Public Relations Research, 30(4), 164-178.
  6. Gesualdi, M. (2019). Revisiting the relationship between public relations and marketing: Encroachment and social media. Public Relations Review, 45(2), 372-382.
  7. Iankova, S., Davies, I., Archer-Brown, C., Marder, B., & Yau, A. (2019). A comparison of social media marketing between B2B, B2C and mixed business models. Industrial Marketing Management, 81, 169-179.
  8. Jones, D. B., & Tadajewski, M. (Eds.). (2016). The Routledge companion to marketing history. Routledge.
  9. Kitchen, P. J., & Moss, D. (2016). Marketing and public relations: An exploratory study. Web.
  10. Kumar, V. (2015). Evolution of marketing as a discipline: What has happened and what to look out for. Journal of Marketing, 79(1), 1-9.
  11. Murphy, P. E., Laczniak, G. R., & Harris, F. (2016). Ethics in marketing: International cases and perspectives. Taylor & Francis.
  12. Myers, C. (2020). Public relations history: Theory, practice, and profession. Routledge.
  13. Parsons, P. J. (2016). Ethics in public relations: A guide to best practice. Kogan Page Publishers.
  14. Philip, K., & Armstrong, G. (2018). Principles of marketing, 17th edition. Pearson Higher Education.
  15. Roberts, J. (2018). Writing for strategic communication industries. Ohio State University.
  16. Rust, R. T. (2019). The future of marketing. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 37(1), 15-26.
  17. Theaker, A. (2016). The public relations handbook. Routledge.
  18. Valentini, C., & Edwards, L. (2019). Theories in public relations: Reflections and future directions.
  19. Van Ruler, B. (2018). Communication theory: An underrated pillar on which strategic communication rests. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 12(4), 367-381.
  20. Wright, D., & Hinson, M. (2017). Tracking how social and other digital media are being used in public relations practice: A twelve-year study. Public Relations Journal, 11(1), 1-30.
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