3 minute read

How can public relations support marketing activities?

For those who don’t work in the field of communications, it is very easy to assume that public relations and marketing are pretty much the same thing. In fact, you’d find it hard to come by a PR professional who hasn’t described their job as ‘similar to marketing’ to their family, friends or virtually anyone new they meet.

Yet, those who have some knowledge of the sector know the differences between the two – marketing speaks directly to your audience through advertising, website content, blogs and social media etc., whilst public relations focuses on increasing awareness of a product or service through third-party means, usually a journalist or media outlet, without directly paying for the publicity.

cheese pull

PR and marketing have a symbiotic relationship – they often need each other. However, out of the two, PR is more likely to be ignored, and that’s a big mistake. You’d find it very difficult to identify a firm, no matter how large or small, who has not invested in various marketing activities. PR, on the other hand, is sometimes less invested in, despite it arguably being more effective – but then I am of course biased.

But why is it more effective you ask?

Well, take this scenario. You see a post for a restaurant come up online, it’s direct from the restaurant telling you all about how nice the food is, how great the atmosphere is, how affordable the prices are, and how picturesque the venue is – it piques your interest, but of course they are going to say that, right? They are hardly going to say it tastes bland, it’s too loud to hear your friends speak, the prices are extortionate, and it’s too dark to get a picture.

However, if you had a review from a friend of yours who had attended the restaurant, and they said the food was great, the atmosphere was fantastic, the prices were good value and they got some great photos for their social media, then you’re much more likely to book a table for next week, aren’t you? That’s because the review came from a trustworthy voice, not the organisation itself. In the same way, your product or service being written about by a journalist (PR), is much more influential and trustworthy than seeing an advertisement about it (marketing).

How PR and marketing work together

Sticking with the topic of food, one great way to describe how PR supports marketing is by using a pizza analogy.

Pizza is known all around the world. Now, whether they are made in Italy, Chicago, or New York, pretty much all start with a base, a sauce and a cheese. Though the types of bases, the flavour of sauce and the type of cheese may differ, these basics pretty much remain the same the world over.

pizza sauce

The base, sauce and the cheese are the marketing activities of an organisation - the foundations to building the brand. Now, the toppings – they are the selling point of the pizza, the reason you make your choice of the pizza you want – whether that be Pepperoni, Vegetarian or Hawaiian. The topping is what you communicate via PR, it’s that something special that prompts the buyer to choose between this pizza or that pizza, this business school or that business school, this programme or that programme.

Anyone else hungry?

So, how can PR support marketing efforts?.

  • Public relations can help companies to reach wider target audiences through articles and news coverage in publications with significant readership numbers.
  • Public relations can support companies with smaller budgets for marketing, by using interesting content to secure coverage in renowned target media they may not have been able to afford to advertise in.
  • Public relations can give an external voice, through the form of interviews, to leading spokespeople who can then showcase their expertise beyond your key messages.
  • Public relations can create thought leaders out of an organisation’s spokespeople, who will be seen for their expert knowledge and shine a positive light on the organisation they work for.
  • Public relations can make an organisation become a well-trusted authority in a sector.
  • Public relations can help you to focus more on the value of your company to customers as opposed to just the product or services you offer.
  • Public relations can also build brand loyalty by giving your brand a face (or more than one face), making you more accessible.
  • Public relations can open conversations through stories and content which you can expand on via social media.

slices of pizza

There you have it

Public relations activities are key to supporting your ongoing marketing projects and giving you that real edge over your competitors.

Those who know who they want to target, and know what those potential customers want from them, can combine PR and marketing to achieve greater awareness, loyalty and sales. But the key is knowing your audience – don’t try and flog a Pepperoni pizza to a PETA march.

And for those who got half way through the article, read the descriptions of various pizza and then closed the tab out of pure hunger – you’re forgiven.

I’m off to call Dominos…

PeterAuthor: Peter Remon

Peter achieves prominence for clients across a breadth and depth of significant publications, from trade specific media like International Finance Magazine and QS TopMBA, to national and international goliaths such as Handelsblatt, Le Monde, US News and World Report, and the Financial Times. He also writes under his own name for key publications such as HRZone, Medium and Data Driven Investor.


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