In general, marketing is considered to be hard sale oriented, while PR is focused more on soft issues – e.g. a brand’s reputation and reach. Both disciplines use different tools and procedures as well. Marketing works with exact goals, target groups and various channels, whereas the Public Relations field is still based on intuition and lacks hard data and measurements.
However, the core principle of marketing and PR is the same – communication. Thus, there is no reason for those in PR to ignore a more systematic approach. I believe there are at least three marketing terms which should be integrated into PR’s daily routine.
1. Clear goals and measurement
How often are PR campaigns preceded with clearly set-up goals? In my experience, communication campaigns work with a very general assumption of raising awareness of a brand or issue. Sure, this is a reasonable objective, but when it is not being measured, we are missing the point and cannot evaluate effectivity of our effort.
In marketing, after each campaign, a very detailed survey, or data collection, is conducted to measure every small change. In PR, we count media clippings which say almost nothing about the impact of communication.
2. Target groups
Is it better to have a press conference covered by a national TV channel or small local newspapers? This answer could be counter intuitive. If your objective is to establish a relationship with a specific community a local newspaper may be more desirable. Nevertheless, the holy grail of each PR professional is still to have at least one TV camera at a press conference, even if it often makes no sense.
To plan communication without knowing who we want to reach is like being blind. But, on the other hand, to identify the target audience of communication is not enough. We should know its basic characteristics, like which media it follows or who the influencers within a group are. Without this knowledge, we are not able to really talk to those we would like to persuade.
3. Communication channels
Public Relations is often portrayed as media relations. This is a very narrow understanding of the options PR has in terms of giving its messages to the public. We are living in an era of social media, influencers and blogs, which sometimes have a comparable reach to traditional media.
Without neglecting the power of earned media, PR communication should use a more mixed approach. First of all, media owned by a company – social media profiles, websites or direct emails. Second way to reach a target audience with the desired message is with paid channels. Even though this is more of a marketing approach, some PR messages could be effective by communicating via commercials or advertorials as well.
PR must be more like marketing Just to be clear.
The Public Relations field is not the same as the marketing field, these two disciplines have their differences. PR helps organizations to establish and to maintain long-term relationships with their stakeholders (employees, media, communities, etc.) and to pursue their positive impact on societies.
However, to be able to achieve this, PR must be more like marketing, or at least follow more data-based approach. In each organization, core goals and messages are the same; PR and marketing are just different channels they are transferred by. In PR, there is no reason to insist on intuition or experience when a more systematic approach is available.