Communications vs Marketing


I’ve noticed over recent years that more and more students say they work in Communications. This summer I had a student who explained clearly the difference between Communications and Marketing.

Marketing, as we all know, is the four Ps of Product, Price, Promotion and Place (ie distribution channel). To this, some add a fifth P, Packaging, and even a sixth, People (meaning the work of the sales reps).

Communications comprises the following areas:

  • Online relations. This includes the company website, advertising on other websites, use of social networks, other uses of the internet for PR, search engine optimization etc.
  • Public Relations. Most PR is directed at the press, and includes press releases, press conferences, writing newsletters and articles. Some PR is also directed at opinion formers in the industry and wider society, and might include lobbying.
  • Event management. Both external events (eg trade fairs) and internal events (held at the company’s own premises).
  • Printed materials. Production of brochures, in-store displays etc.
  • Corporate design. Logo, colours, fonts, layout as applied to all company materials including Powerpoint slides.
  • Internal communications. Supplying content to the company intranet is a very important area here, and other areas include producing the in-house magazine, organizing the Christmas/Summer Party, and small touches such as giving presents to new babies of mothers on maternity leave.

This clear presentation of Communications could be used in class in either of the ways described below.

Activity 1

This activity is more appropriate for in-work students.

1 Write up on the board Marketing / Communications and ask the students to brainstorm in small groups what the differences are.

2 They feed back their discussions to the group and the teacher writes a summary on the board as they speak (incorporating any info from above as appropriate – use it as a ‘cheat sheet’).

3 Now, focussing just on Communications, ask the students to refer to the board summary and describe how their own companies do (or don’t do) the various activities.

4 A follow-on issue is likely to be: Is Communications handled sufficiently well inside the Marketing department or does it need more focus?

Activity 2

This activity is more appropriate for pre-experience students.

1 Write up Communications in the middle of the board, and then the sub-topics in bold in the Background section above coming off it like a mind map. The class as a whole, facilitated by you, brainstorms various business activities for each sub-topic. Feed in the ones above if necessary (to help the students with ideas).

2 Now simply ask the group what they know about the different areas and have a whole-class discussion.

3 Homework could include some internet research, with each student being given a key term from the lesson and typing it into a search engine. In the next lesson they report back on what they discovered.



Send help, I’ve fallen off my chair after reading “organizing the Christmas/Summer Party, and small touches such as giving presents to new babies of mothers on maternity leave”.


OK, I guess you are a troll. Anyway … please remember the context of this post and my site. I am a teacher of Business English, writing for other teachers of BE, and trying to help them to understand terms that students use. In this post I am reporting what one particular student told me. He was a French businessman working for a large multinational, and had worked for various companies, sometimes with ‘Marketing’ in his job title and sometimes with ‘Communications’. The list above was his – he was telling me what the Communications department in his current company actually does. The final point – Internal Communications – was very much part of his work. The phrase you refer to, presumably sarcastically, is given third, after 1) supplying content to an intranet and 2) producing an in-house magazine. But small rituals like annual parties, remembering birthdays, and celebrating life milestones of employees are an essential part of team building and building loyalty to the organisation. They have to be someone’s responsibility. In his particular company, they fell under ‘Internal Communications’. Sorry if that makes you laugh.


The background is interesting, anecdotally, but the context does not excuse promulgating poor information. ‘Supply content’ is not something I would ever say in a business context. The web is full of IC practitioners and professional bodies that could help your students and this article. But you’ve called me out as a troll and excused yourself of any poor performance, so I understand this conversation is over. I never laughed.

Comments are closed.