Blurred Lines… What is ‘Communications’?


When it came to choosing and researching my dissertation topic this year, I didn’t find it a difficult process at all. There has been one topic weighing on my mind from the outset of my MSc in Public Relations and it was my only choice, as fair as I was concerned. A visit to Prolific North Live confirmed it was probably the right choice.

The age old battles between Public Relations and Marketing professionals over who does what and who does it better, still rage on within the creative industry. Add advertising, digital and many other titles into the mix and let the fighting commence!

However, as I stood at the back of Catherine Turner’s talk on her ‘key thoughts on PR in 2018’ at Prolific North Live, I realised that it’s not just been my concern that the boundaries between marketing and public relations are blurring, it’s actually something industry experts are discussing as well.


Obviously, I may be called out for living in an idealistic world here but is it not the case that all of the aforementioned disciplines seek to communicate with people? Walking around the multitude of stands at Prolific North Live illustrated this to a certain degree. Each stand offered some form of channel that aimed to communicate an organisation’s message to people. Whether that be through the realms of Virtual Reality or Search Engine Optimisation, they all had the same idea at their core.

Obviously, the introduction of ‘integrated’ agencies has seen the merging of these disciplines to some degree, offering a spectrum of services to clients and organisations. Yet, they still separate their ‘PR teams’ from their ‘Marketers’ and their ‘Digital gurus’ from their Creatives’, creating distinct boundaries in the process.

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I wish to test and examine the effects of these boundaries in my dissertation. Can a truer blend of our disciplines be effective in delivering effective ‘communications’ or do we require boundaries to distinguish between specific disciplinary responsibilities?

Please, let me know your thoughts on the topic. What are your experiences with integrated communications?


2 thoughts on “Blurred Lines… What is ‘Communications’?

  1. It’s a live and dynamic area and there are many good sources among academics and practitioners. One of the best is from an Australian practitioner Craig Pearce who talks about marketing being focused on the customer, and public relations on the citizen.

    • Thanks for the tip, Richard. I’ll make sure I look into that! I think the dynamic nature of the topic is what drew me to it in the first place… It’s interesting to see that marketers are now using terms like ‘relationship marketing’, possibly moving away from the ‘customer’ idea?

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