One common question or statement we get when talking to people about what we do, is “what is an agency?” Simply put, an agency is a third party partner that helps build your business by using their expertise in a field that your business is either lacking or doesn’t have the time or talent to produce affordably.

A quick Google search brings up the results of marketing agencies, public relations agencies, advertising agencies, website development agencies and branding agencies. That’s a lot of agencies. You might be wondering what the differences are…

Marketing Agency

In the world where agencies are becoming more specialized in their services and expertise, a marketing agency is generally referred to when the agency offers comprehensive and holistic marketing services ranging from communication, advertising and public relations to creative, website development and branding. Marketing agencies are a good place to go when you’re looking for an agency that can help you with an umbrella marketing strategy, trade show marketing, rewards programs, affiliate marketing, marketing channels and product development. The goal of marketing is to boost the bottom line, so marketing is a great compliment to sales and advertising techniques.

Advertising Agency

Probably the most common type of agency that comes to mind for most, an advertising agency, typically does solely advertising. This may include advertising campaign planning, budgeting, art direction and graphic design, and advertising placement and buying. Essentially, if your brand needs its name in in print, radio, television or on digital advertising platforms, an advertising agency will be your best friend. Advertising agencies are also paid media focused, meaning everything they do centers around paying for placement. Advertising typically supports marketing efforts, so the goal here is sales, rather than awareness or attitude change.

Public Relations Agency

Public relations is an unknown means of marketing and communication to some businesses. Unlike advertising, public relations (PR) is built on earned media. Earned media is free media that is given to the brand or company through communication tools such as press coverage, influencer marketing, SEO, social media and blogging (to name a few). Typically, anything that is not paid to have consumers view it will fall under PR. And, no, PR isn’t just for brands or business that are having a problem—a very common misconception. That is crisis communication/management, commonly confused with and termed as just “PR.” PR centers upon mutually beneficial relationships, so it produces the best results when it is an ongoing, strategic management function. PR can help build brand awareness, share information, and persuade people to take action. PR is typically not a sales-driver though.

Website Design and Development Agency

An agency that solely focuses on website design and development is just that – a website design and development agency. These agencies are typically full of employees who know the ins and outs of coding, user-experience, server maintenance, hosting capabilities, mobile app designers and graphic designers. With very few “communicators,” website design companies often don’t possess the correct knowledge to produce valuable search rankings through website content once the site is launched. Website design and development agencies are great to work with for specific projects, but they are not a one-stop shop and often require businesses to work with other agencies or pool in-house talent for a comprehensive communication campaign.

Branding/Brand Development Agency

Last, but certaintly not least, a brand development agency is focused on building a brand. Sometimes this can be a new start-up brand, a new division of a company, or a rebranding. Branding agencies combine knowledge of art direction, graphic design and communication to create visually appealing stories through logos, marketing collateral, taglines, jingles and trade show/event collateral. Some branding agencies include marketing, advertising and PR experts, while others do not. It’s important to understand the goal of the business before beginning work with a branding agency.

The PRIME Factory

At The PRIME Factory, we focus the majority of our services on earned media. We want to optimize our client’s brand visibility and reach for the least amount of money spent—preferably no money spent. In this way, we are a public relations firm. However, we also offer branding and brand development services as well as website design and development service.

So, you might be thinking, okay you’re a marketing agency because you do multiple things. Not quite. We don’t do traditional marketing aspects such as marketing channels, trade show marketing, rewards programs, affiliate marketing, marketing channels and product development.

The skinny—The PRIME Factory is a public relations and digital marketing agency because we specialize in all things earned media—both traditional and digital. Branding is still earned media because it is not paid to have reach and websites are digital and our digital marketing services drive and optimize the website making us digital-focused. We specialize in media relations, strategic social media, content development, brand development, website design and development, communication strategy, influencer marketing and consumer experience counseling—at the root these are all earned media approaches to brand visibility, reach and marketing.