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Marketing and public relations each have distinct and complementary roles to play within a company to achieve established goals. Traditionally, marketing is focused on driving sales and on implementing the different marketing and advertising campaigns while PR aims to build reputation, mindshare and trust with audiences. Due in no small part to the rise in social media, increasingly, these two functions overlap.
So, how can they work together to remain consistent, coherent and helpful for audiences?
To look to its classic definition, marketing is a process of continual optimization driven by an examination of numerous data points to make strategic decisions based on results. Because of this, there is a great opportunity to rapidly adjust and improve interactions with followers and customers on the various channels available. By empirically defining the best content and the optimal approach through data analysis, marketers are able to improve campaigns results. To be the best it can, marketing must be understood on both a functional as well as an emotional level – getting the messaging and means of delivery right.
PR is based more on perception, both of the company or brand, but also the messaging that is utilized. So during a marketing campaign, public relations teams should observe, listen and interact with customers to interpret their reactions. The marketing data may show excellent engagement numbers for a specific advertisement, encouraging an expanded campaign. But if that engagement is due to an angry reaction to the content, PR must be kept within the communications loop, ready to step in and limit any further damage to the brand, and ideally reframing the conversation in a positive way.
The coordination of the two branches is essential to provide the best customer service possible.
With easy access to product and company information online, a potential customer is already quite far in their buyer’s journey when they begin to interact with a company. In order to have some influence in the buyer’s process, the marketing team must analyze what type of content drives a customer’s purchase while public relations should monitor signals from customers that can be validated and classified by marketing as potential buying signals. A potential buyer that feels like he knows and understands a brand is more likely to be converted to a sale and remain loyal. Public relations must make sure that the outgoing messages are relevant to the company’s offerings while marketing provides the data to make adjustments in the content delivery to determine what makes them tick and buy.
Essentially, it is about establishing an iron-clad internal communications process between the two departments, or in smaller organizations the designated team members, and identifying and acknowledging the areas of overlap in order to manage it accordingly. For example, the creation and sharing of editorial calendars, setting up a communications flow for any “red-flag” situations and holding regular meetings are just some of the ways of facilitating this. Finally, it’s important to recognize this as a work in progress; technology continues to evolve and impact how we work and how we interact with consumers, creating a constant state of “plan, act, review.”
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