Marketing and PR have always had a complicated relationship. Traditional marketers and publicists will argue that the differences are clear, pointing to advertising versus awareness, and revenue-driving versus brand-building — but as the lines between media and advertising have blurred, so to have the lines between marketing and PR. This has been especially true for PR and Influencer Marketing, particularly given the large role that PR agencies play in facilitating collaborations.

The relationship has become close enough that many industry articles now refer to these strategies interchangeably, but this over-simplification can lead to confusion. Although Influencer Marketing and PR both involve creating brand awareness through bloggers and social influencers, they achieve different goals, involve different tactics, and use different resources.

Understanding how and when to use Influencer Marketing and PR is important to getting the most out of each strategy, allowing you to form stronger influencer relationships, reach your overall marketing goals, and ultimately, better manage your resources.

Here’s a look at each strategy and how to effectively use both.

Understanding PR

A publicist’s job is to communicate news and story ideas in a way that inspires the media, including bloggers, to write about a brand. Your PR agency can send influencers a press alert or invite bloggers to press events just as they might a Vogue editor, but there’s no obligation for influencers to write about your product based on this outreach. With PR, you are trading guaranteed exposure for the promise of an organic post.

Why It’s Effective: An independent endorsement is powerful. It shows that an influencer likes your brand enough to mention it on their own. PR is also a cost-effective tool for widely sharing company news, like the launch of a new collection. However, PR gives you little control over who mentions your brand or how it is portrayed. Bloggers have no obligation to include hashtags, links, or products you might like to see featured. Perhaps more frustratingly for brands, PR leaves few options for the times you’d like to generate awareness but don’t have a real “news” hook to motivate editors and bloggers. That said, PR is so effective precisely because it is difficult to achieve.

Understanding Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing involves strategic, typically paid, collaborations between bloggers and brands. The most successful collaborations result when influencers are genuinely enthusiastic about a brand, which can make Influencer Marketing look much like PR, but compensation and brand control are important differentiators.

Why It’s Effective: Influencer Marketing allows you to collaborate directly with influencers in a way that benefits your brand. By sponsoring content, you trade an influencer’s independent endorsement for creative control, allowing you to ensure that important links, imagery, hashtags and brand messages are all included. You can also more easily identify and engage the best influencers for your campaign. Rather than hoping that bloggers are interested enough in your brand to independently endorse it, you have an avenue to select influencers in your desired markets and across your desired demographics. Influencer Marketing also gives you more options to track the success of your campaign. Our Collaborations Result page, for example, allows you to see your total reach, cost-per-engagement, sales through affiliate links, and other factors for each influencer across different social channels.

What are the tradeoffs?

Both PR and Influencer Marketing can help you build influencer relationships, but these strategies achieve significantly different goals. Through Influencer Marketing, brands have the luxury of approving content, tracking results, and incorporating elements like affiliate links. The tradeoff is that with Influencer Marketing, you often get what you pay for. To engage top influencers, you must budget for sponsored content the way you would for advertising. You must also disclose that your content is sponsored.

PR, meanwhile, works best if you value general brand awareness over reaching specific audiences, or if (for a particular campaign) you value promoting a sense of brand loyalty through independent endorsements more than you do securing guaranteed awareness. PR is also effective if you are announcing a specific piece of news, like a new collection, but can be more difficult to achieve when your message is less editorial — for example, when you’re promoting an end-of-season sale, of if you’d simply like to remain top-of-mind within a particular market.

Understanding the differences and trade-offs between Influencer Marketing will help you make better decisions and develop stronger relationships with influencers, which can help to increase organic awareness through influencers, while making your paid collaborations more effective.

This article first appeared on the Shopping Links blog.