Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
No one likes to be called names, but a nice, juicy job title can be good for your image. You may aspire to be CEO one day, but on the way there, as a manager or director, would you rather have the job description ‘marketing’, or ‘PR’?
Well it really doesn’t matter that much says Bronwen Andrews, head of business development at Grayling, Europe, because it’s what you do that matters, not what you are called: “I firmly believe that too much time is spent on thinking about titles and ‘disciplines’. The idea of a PR title versus a marketing title is unhelpful as these roles should be closely connected, both working together towards the same commercial outcome.”
All joined up
In terms of what is better, PR or marketing, again Andrews says that they are all joined up anyway. “The PR sector undoubtedly best understands brand reputation, but the opportunity should exist for comms and marketing to work in an integrated way to understand their clients’ business across divisions – not just the ones in the specific agency remit. Marketers need external perspectives from both PR and marketing. When someone reads an interesting piece of content, they don’t think to themselves 'I wonder who created that – marketing or communications?’
“What clients need is for both PR and marketing roles to bring innovation to the table, rather than sticking rigidly to the swim lane defined by a title. With the changing nature of client needs, the industry could consider a reset of job titles and levels that more accurately reflects our work. “
It’s what you do
Andrews illustrates why you don't need to focus on particular titles with this example: “One agency recently told a well-known international telco firm in a pitch ‘don’t worry about team titles. You’ll deal with me for media and him for employee engagement. We’ll both know about every aspect of the business, so you can talk to either of us’. The agency didn’t make their internal structure the client’s problem, and this won them the business.”
Depends on the sector
Madalina Grigorie, communications manager, at technologies firm Pusher, says that the differences between PR and marketing titles depend on the sector you are working in: "Some sectors like professional services are more educated in understanding the importance of the PR profession and how it is different than marketing. Other sectors like tech, are less seasoned and tend to encompass both PR, marketing and maybe throw in some internal communications experience under the generic umbrella of ‘communications manager’ or ‘marketing manager’.
PR managers should rule!
Despite her own title as comms manager, Grigorie is keen to have her PR skills recognised: “As an accredited member of CIPR, I take great pride in my PR education and I would prefer the title of PR manager. However, most people don't really understand what PR is, but they do relate a lot to the term of marketing at least broadly. There's a lot of education that still needs to be done both by CIPR and PRCA and I know they are working towards supporting the PR profession to become more established. I believe it's also our personal responsibility as PR practitioners to educate our managers, employers and other stakeholders we come in contact with about the importance of public relations, which is something that I try to do every single day."
It’s a close fight
As she works for a PR firm, Katie Mallinson, managing director of Scriba PR, it comes as no surprise that a job title with the inititials ‘PR’ in them are superior in her view to those with ‘marketing’, although she claims it is a close fight: “Admittedly it’s a tough call (and I have marketing manager friends who I respect A LOT for their talent). But I would always personally opt for a PR manager role.
“Marketing is a vast and varied discipline, and the make-up of a modern, savvy marketing team is changing all the time – you’ve got data analysts, creative thinkers, copywriters, digital minds and more. You rarely find someone who excels in all areas.
“So, on that note, PR is just one very focused part of what is a massive marketing/communications landscape, and in my opinion it’s a craft all of its own.
A passion for PR
“I love PR. I love identifying and telling clients’ stories through the power of carefully chosen words, to help them better communicate with their audience. It can sometimes be a slow burner, which would frustrate many lead-gen focused marketers, but this profile-raising activity does work and can deliver incredible bottom-line benefits (when done properly!) That’s not to say I wouldn’t find a marketing manager role interesting – PR is simply what gets me out of bed in a morning.”
Don’t be defined
However, Mallinson agrees with the consensus that a particular job title is less important than the work you do: “Within a PR team I’m not actually a huge fan of specific job titles. I think the person makes a role, not the position on their LinkedIn profile or business card. And in a strong team, whilst definition of responsibilities is important, I would expect colleagues to pull together beyond the ‘boundaries’ of their job anyway, if a project or deadline required us to. We really only have titles because recruitment in the sector is hard enough, and – rightly or wrongly – the majority of people still seem to job hunt on the basis of what the role is called.”
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