Years ago, I used to wonder a lot about the difference between PR and marketing. This area of expertise wasn’t part of my first post-secondary learnings, so I was pretty perplexed. Sales, marketing, and PR all seemed to be the same thing, because they all fell (and still do) under the same umbrella in the wine business. Enrolling in Santa Rosa Junior College’s wine sales and marketing degree program, which was 60 units of grueling assignments, brought it all home as I worked toward my second career choice in California wine country. All of the studies at the JC are amazing, because students learn from those already in the wine business.

So, here’s how marketing, sales, and PR go hand-in-hand. Once broken down, it’s quite simple:

The marketing department is the first tab on the flow chart, falling under the Chief Operating Officer and/or President.

Under marketing is sales and PR, as separate entities.


The marketing department prepares everything needed to support sales efforts, which includes the following:

  • Research and development ~ Is there a need?
  • Concept ~ Coming up with the story to fulfill the need
  • Design ~ Creating the eye appealing and eye catching materials
  • Sales support ~ from POS (Point of Sale, wholesaler support) to POP (Point of Purchase, consumer interest)


Where PR fits in…

Once all of the above is done, the story has to get out there. This is where public relations comes into play. PR is a branch of the marketing department as a support unit.

  • A PR person, in a smaller company, is assigned to the task of writing the story for all of the above. This person also works as a liaison between the company, organizations, consumers, and media. In smaller companies, all of these tasks may fall into the hands of one PR person, beginning with copy writing.
  • In larger companies, there might be copywriters in the company whose sole job it is is to be writing; leaving PR to others who work as liaisons between any of the above segments. Perhaps there’s one person to work with organizations, another to work with consumers, and another to work solely with media.

Some PR Departments can be huge, some are comprised of one person. The size of the company dictates the size of all departments.


Once the marketing team has all of its ducks in a row and the PR person has done his or her job, the sales department hits the streets selling the product. The success of the salespeople, after everyone else has done the best he or she is able, sells the product and brings the bacon back to the rest of the team.

These three entities have separate functions, under one heading… Marketing. That said, the success of any company is dependent on these three units also being able to work cohesively in purpose. If they do, this becomes the ultimate success of the company. If they don’t, the company is ultimately doomed to failure.

The importance of understanding interdependence in a wine company

I had one boss in the wine business who literally hated the marketing department. It didn’t matter what we were doing to help this person run the tasting room, she had some quirky burr under her saddle. I realized this when she causally said to me one day, “Everyone knows that we [tasting room staff] are supposed to hate the marketing department.” This was a quick snapshot into understanding that she had never studied business; because if she had, her mind would have been open to working as one unit for the good of the whole.

Each part above, when working properly, feeds off the success of each other, and makes a company as good as it can be in order to accomplish marketing, sales, and PR.

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