Marketing, PR, communications, growth and your brand

High-growth companies’ perception of marketing and public relations has shifted over the last 20 years. Product management used to be considered a subset of marketing at many companies in the 1980s and 1990s, while growth marketing did not exist. Public relations used to be about writing press releases.

Things have changed, but the one thing that hasn’t: all marketing and PR efforts ultimately contribute to building the company’s brand, public perception, and customer acquisition.

Below is a breakdown of various marketing and public relations functions. In general, you need to hire different employees for each function if you are to fully engage in the area.

Growth marketing

Growth marketing is analytically driven marketing and includes all quantitative areas of marketing. This includes online advertising, email marketing (where conversion can be tightly measured), SEO/content marketing, viral marketing, and funnel optimization. Growth marketing includes demand generation or lead generation, but also encompasses converting leads to customers once they’ve landed on your website.

Growth marketing focuses on moving a handful of key metrics (e.g., signups, logins, conversions) in an ROI-focused manner. Many growth tactics were famously pioneered at Facebook, but were really a response to a macro shift in ROI-based advertising (starting with Google), email marketing campaigns, and the more general rise of the internet as a marketing channel.

Social media marketing (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) tends to fall under growth marketing or communications/PR in most technology organizations.

Product marketing

Product marketing (sometimes just “marketing” without a prefix word) is the canonical, old-school technology marketing discipline. This includes things like customer testimonials, feature requests, user testing and interviews, competitor analysis, collateral generation, and case studies. In the olden days (1970s and 1980s), product marketing and product management tended to be two sides of the same discipline, but this diverged over time.

Brand marketing

Brand marketing is focused on the squishier side of marketing: brand awareness and perception, logos, and other design elements. It is the Nike swoosh—but more than that, it’s about causing widespread association of Nike with not only the swoosh, but the attributes of athleticism and perseverance in popular culture.

All marketing efforts ultimately contribute to the company brand.

PR and communications

Public relations is focused on story development (your company’s narrative), press (proactive, reactive, contributed content), events (speaking engagements and also networking opportunities to some extent), as well as product-focused activity such as reviews and awards programs.

Media relations can benefit all areas of a company: Beyond simply telling the product story, PR can help with culture storytelling as well as executive profiles. Additionally, PR campaigns of late have included influencer relations, though this is also a function that’s sometimes handled by a marketing team. PR teams are also usually the first point of contact in a crisis. Think of PR as the ongoing telling of the company story to the press and broader world.