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The conundrum of public relations versus marketing: Clarifying the differences in terms of relationship management

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Author(s): Ursula Ströh

Journal: PRism Online PR Journal
ISSN 1448-4404

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1 ;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: public relations | communication | publics | cross-disciplines | relationship management | marketing | relationship theory

ABSTRACT
If we define public relations as the umbrella function that manages the communication between an organisation and its publics to build and enhance healthy relationships to the benefit of all parties involved, we must recognise that many cross-disciplines have been integrated to build theory for public relations in terms of relationships and relationship management. Customers are one of public relations’ ‘involved parties’, and marketing is one of the public relations scholarship field’s cross-disciplines: hence there are many points of intersection between marketing and public relations both in a theoretical and a practical sense. When teaching public relations, however, I often encounter problems with students not understanding the difference between public relations as a discipline on its own, and public relations as a marketing tool. As the field of marketing has also contributed greatly to the development of relationship theory, this paper examines the two constructs of relationships and relationship management, with the contributions from different fields addressed in more detail. The paper clarifies the difference between the approaches to relationship management from a public relations and marketing perspective. It also, however, points out that in a research context these differences will sometimes need to be transcended. The paper is intended to provide a resource for both marketing and public relations educators and students, to enhance students’ understanding of the distinctions between the disciplines and the approaches to relationships in the different disciplinary contexts.
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