PR has always been a vital part of the marketing mix, and is arguably becoming even more important as social media and digital communications bring organisations closer to their customers and the wider public.
However, as the phrase ‘marketing mix’ clearly implies, PR is only one of several tools that should be used to communicate your message to potential customers and other key audiences.
Too many organisations fall into the trap of viewing PR in isolation from wider marketing plans and business objectives. There can be a tendency to adopt an ad-hoc, scattergun approach and seek media coverage for its own sake, without consideration of how it is benefiting the organisation.
The potential problems that can result from using PR in isolation are subtle but nevertheless highly significant.
Equally, the benefits of co-ordinating a company’s wider business objectives in an integrated sales and marketing plan are telling – and well within the reach of any organisation prepared to take its marketing seriously.
The point to remember is that customers will view the whole finished product (not just isolated elements) and will judge you on the result created by that unique combination of complementary elements.
Bearing all of the above in mind, we’ve put together some key points for ensuring your PR is carefully aligned with your long-term goals:
- Load, aim, fire! This maxim works well for firing a gun and also for our purposes here. Load = planning, aim = targeting market segments/key demographics or selecting correct media channel. Fire = executing the campaign.
- Striking out and organising an event or PR campaign can be fun and give the impression that action is being taken but you may simply be playing the role of ‘busy fool’ or convincing your boss (wrongly!) that you know what you’re doing when it comes to marketing and sorting out the company’s image/messaging problems.
- A campaign that is not rooted in a plan will be superficial and create less impact, as it may well be perceived as inconsistent or even irrelevant to the overall message of the business. Results therefore will not be sustainable over the long term.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking this whole argument is not important because its validity isn’t readily apparent. Things that happen below the radar or behind the scenes often lack glamour but play a vital role in producing a stunning end result – think of the serenity of a swan in full flow appearing totally calm and magnificent on the surface but with all the hard work occurring invisibly beneath the surface.
- If your PR is part of a wider plan it will have wider support throughout the organisation as more people will necessarily have bought into it at concept stage. Because of this, the vital motivation and drive will be in place to take the campaign on energetically and vigorously to a successful outcome.
- Prior analysis of the market, engagement with targeted customers and reflection on any findings will reveal exactly where to put in maximum PR effort, with the result that any campaign executed on this basis will be underpinned by a solid foundation.
All the above points will help you to maximise the ROI for your PR spend. This route definitely takes more effort and use of intellectual resources but will always produce better results – surely the whole point of the exercise!
Jeff Hardman is the founder and owner of Barnhill Marketing, a well-established business and management consultancy based in Broxton, Cheshire. For more information visit www.barnhillmarketing.co.uk. Follow Jeff on Twitter here – you can also view his LinkedIn profile and read his blog.
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