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How Connected Should Your PR Activities Be To Marketing Activities?

POINT: John Moore

Public Relations plays a role in marketing efforts as it relates to awareness, influence, and credibility.

Let’s be clear, for the most part, retail brands view Public Relations as Media Relations. Brands seek to use traditional media (print, television, radio) and non-traditional media (online news, blogs, social media) to generate brand awareness, influence brand consideration, and add brand credibility.

Every Starbucks retail marketing promotion we did included a Media Relations activity to build awareness and to influence customers. For example, with every Holiday promotion, Starbucks revved up its publicity engine by getting national media and local media to run stories about the return of Egg Nog Lattes to Starbucks.

Starbucks would send Baristas to television stations and radio stations to do on-air tastings of holiday coffee drinks. Newspaper journalists would be treated to special tastings inside a Starbucks. This was in addition to any standard media release highlighting new news going on at Starbucks during the holidays.

Today, Media Relations activities include online writers and raving Starbucks fans who blog and tweet about Starbucks online.

All of this activity is to drive awareness of new Starbucks news with the hopes that the media will share this new news with their readers and viewers. If the media shares this news, then readers and viewers will be influenced to consider visiting Starbucks.

Traditional and non-traditional media have significant influence in getting a brand into a consumer’s consideration set because of greater credibility. The power of a third party endorsement almost always outweighs any marketing activity a business can do.

People expect a commercial and print ad from a brand to be boastful. When any boastful claims come from a third party source, people are much more apt to believe it because it’s a message from a third party and not directly from a brand’s marketing department.

COUNTERPOINT: Paul Williams

Marketing and Public Relations should be joined at the hip. They both support your communication, awareness, and sales objectives.

The biggest challenge I’ve ever discovered in the two working well together is when the marketing team and the PR team within a company are too competitive.

A PR plan is part of a marketing plan.

Pre-internet, marketing – specifically advertising – was the communication you could count on. You’ve paid for placement. PR was when you put the word out to interested parties, and hope they pick-up on the story and talk about you.

It is this old school approach where you had to strictly rely on relationships with the media to get coverage of your events and news. As John said, many treat PR as media relations.

Nowadays, however, with websites, blogging, and social media tools you aren’t at the mercy of other publications as the only venue to get the message to the people.

I tend to think of PR – as John puts it – as non-traditional media. Activities you implement that don’t guarantee placement. Activities that have to be engaging enough, creative enough, and interesting enough to draw positive attention to themselves.

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