Convergence: Merging Disciplines Between PR and Marketing
Here is a classic definition of Public Relations: “PR is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. The aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions.”
I went to Ask.com to find the role of Marketing: “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.”
Where the two worlds collide
The customer and the prospect now live in this one existence area called “Social media”. Earlier today I was explaining to colleagues about the clear divide even within Marketing. Retention and Acquisition marketers used different channels, different lists and different messages. PR always sat outside of this function because the role of PR rarely involved impacts from a customer level.
For the most part, all three channels coexisted but “never the twain shall meet”…. that is until now.
Who claims social media?
I have PR friends who claim that Social and PR belong together. After all, if PR has always been tasked with managing a company’s reputation then social media should be a natural tendency.
I respectfully disagree. Before social media the voice of the customer was but a whisper. By and large the reputation of a company was developed by the company itself. It was shaped based on relationships with media and damage was mitigated also based on these relationships. The consumer had little say or bearing, unlike today. Now, that same consumer is the prospect…. the customer… and the reputation catalyst. Whether we like it or not these roles are converging in a big way. The new order is how to evolve each of our roles and how to play nice in the sandbox.
How the Roles will Evolve
In today’s reality, you will need a combination of PR and Marketing to stay on top of the conversation, and be ready to develop compelling content to engage and build advocacy. This article, “Real-Time Social Media Creative Marketing and PR” depicts this nicely:
The Bridge, a “holistic engagement network” combines the disciplines in a symbiotic way:
…the Bridge pairs mainstream and digital media experts with creative specialists like copywriters, digital designers and video producers to uncover storytelling opportunities in real time, deliver critical business insights, engage influencers and customers and create the content that shapes news and conversations.
I love the same approach that //newsrooms has evolved to break out from a traditional media news channel to make available a service that gives brands their own “CNN” for a day. /newsrooms, a content and continuous marketing network launched by Sabaa Quao and Chris Hogg, runs the constant brand coverage that only the resources of a news organization can provide.
CNN and The New York Times were built for news, /newsrooms was designed for brands. Brands need content. Brands want coverage. And brands demand conversion.
Imagine content cut up into pieces and distributed to the right audiences at the right time on the right platforms. Continuously. Every day without stopping. We can do that. We can also create that content in real-time, at live events, with coverage in almost every major city worldwide.
Perhaps a new mandate and a shared responsibility :)
The abundance of conversations has created a new reality. Listening is now tablestakes. Real-time response is the expectation. Content carries more credibility than advertising. Storytelling’s approach is proving to be an effective draw to appeal to consumers. Real-time marketing driven by strong creative executions is now the standard to enable a brand to stand out. Optimizing, Measurement and tracking need to accompany the validation for this new mediums.
There doesn’t seem to be clear line that is drawn between the two functions. If anything, as this space evolves the strengths of PR and Marketing will be needed to work together to juggle and balance the increasingly complex data of demands and consumer expectations that continue to challenge this space.
*This is a guest post by Hessie Jones. The author’s posts are entirely her own views (excluding the event of being possessed by an alien parasite that controls her mind) and may not always reflect the views of InNetwork.*