Back to School: The Relationship Between PR and Marketing, Mentoring Students and More


I recently got to go back to school – for a night, at least – and speak with the very bright Public Relations Student Society at The Ohio State University.

It was a thrill visiting Columbus’ largest hometown university and soaking up the passion and hunger of these students getting ready to embark on their own career journey. It also reminded me of just how much has changed in the industry since I started my own career.

Approach team member Julie Daubenmire and I spoke about today’s PR landscape and the relationship between PR and Marketing.

When I first started in this business, PR and Marketing operated somewhat independently:

  • Public relations focused on achieving a favorable public image, using tactics like media relations, public speaking, etc.

  • Marketing focused on selling products through tactics like direct mail, advertising campaigns, collateral, etc.

Nowadays, for companies to be successful, PR and marketing must go hand in hand.

At Approach, we have seen many examples of PR and marketing efforts falling flat because there was too much of a focus on one without the other. Getting top-tier national media coverage alone is not enough to convert sales without a targeted, wrap-around marketing campaign. And likewise, marketing alone without a favorable company reputation won’t build brand loyalists and advocates.

So how should PR and marketing work together in the ideal world? Through integrating paid, earned, shared and owned media to add value throughout the customer buying journey. We commonly refer to this as the PESO model, and you can learn more about our approach for integrating this across PR and marketing strategy.

I found the Ohio State students to be engaged, asking smart questions. And even with the public relations program housed in the communication school and the marketing program housed in the business school (which is typical of most colleges and universities), it was great to see the majority saying they are taking some cross-discipline courses.

It’s fun getting the opportunity to mentor students and share about Approach Marketing and the work our agency does. It’s a win-win.