Years ago, I would have agreed with people who said that PR was a separate discipline to marketing; after all, that’s what my training at Leeds Beckett University taught me as I undertook the Public Relations BA Hons degree course.
But now, as attitudes have changed, technology has developed and the ways in which we consume news has evolved, I think it’s right to look at how PR and marketing aren’t separate disciplines but work alongside each other as vital parts of the marketing mix.
I view PR and Marketing as semi-autonomous activities that are so closely aligned they must at least be siblings! Previously I always viewed Marketing as being more attuned to sales than PR – after all, it was the marketing department that would produce the glossy brochures and endless leaflets and promotional goods whilst the PR or Communications team would focus on the ‘heavy’ work of building your brand reputation.
But as the impact of things like social media has developed, it’s become clearer that both disciplines need to work together in harmony, and that an integrated approach to activities such as managing brand reputation or increasing sales is the only way to go.
People don’t read newspapers like they used to. News has become more ‘disposable’ and our attention spans are down to around eight seconds, so it’s clear that the traditional PR approach of simply sending out a press release and relying on media coverage won’t work in today’s fast paced, disinterested world.
So how can you continue to share your brand messages and ensure they are not only ‘seen’ but remembered and ultimately, acted upon?
This is where Marketing comes in.
Developing new ‘hooks’ and creative ways to stand out from the crowd is difficult. Made even harder when your message is pitted against the same message from a different company vying for the attention of apparently the same audience.
Empty news stories and generic headlines backed by dubious ‘stats’, tend to put off an increasingly PR-savvy audience who need reassurance that you really do understand what they want and need.
But good PR based on solid marketing strategies formed out of real insights, data and a deep understanding of your audience, will always put you one step ahead of the ‘one-hit’ spin-doctors.
The dynamic duo
PR has traditionally been viewed as the more ‘reactive’ of the two disciplines (perhaps the more responsible older sibling?), with Marketing doing all the shouting, pushing and shoving. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, so long as both siblings are working together to achieve the same ultimate goal.
The problems always come however when one of them has no idea what the other one is doing. I’ve seen this time and time again in organisations that view PR and Marketing as completely separate – with departments devoting valuable time and resources towards working against each other.
All this lack of cohesion does is generate mixed messaging, confused priorities and weak calls to action that audiences quickly forget.
Both PR and Marketing need to find ways to work together in partnership. As equals. Just like bread and butter, cheese and wine, or bacon and eggs; one without the other simply doesn’t pack enough ‘punch’.
I honestly believe that by combining PR’s dynamic people-skills and Marketing’s precision, we can truly achieve great things: which can only be a good thing for our clients.
There’s never been a more exciting time to be part of the Marketing Communications industry and as we push forward into 2018, I’m really excited to see new trends emerge, new skills embraced, and new goals achieved.
It’s definitely going to be a great year!