In the old days PR handled media relations. Marketing oversaw advertising, promotional materials and gathering customer information through surveys and focus groups. PR focused on safeguarding the brand’s reputation, marketing on boosting sales. Today, PR and marketing collide, overlap and intertwine. Either PR or marketing can manage content like social media updates, blogs and guest articles.
As a result of increasing integration, the percentage of in-house communications teams reporting to marketing increased to 26 percent from 18 percent last year, reveals the 2018 Global Communications Report from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Ninety percent of PR agency professionals and 82 percent of in-house PR pros predict PR will become more integrated with marketing over the next five years.
“Combining PR and marketing allows you to consider both the art and the science of relating to consumers, which will ultimately boost your bottom line more quickly and effectively,” says Forbes contributor Amy Osmond Cook, CEO of Osmond Marketing.
Success often hinges on how well those two groups work together. The merger of PR and marketing may sometimes seem more like a custody battle over job functions than a happy marriage.
The following tips can help PR and marketing find professional bliss together – and meet the organization’s overall business goals.
Cooperate early and often. PR and marketing pros can develop effective campaigns by engaging with each other frequently and starting the collaboration early in the process, says Matt Schlossberg, senior account content director at AC Amendola Communications.
Meet the other side. The first step for PR agencies with new clients: Get to know the marketing team and what they are working on, Schlossberg says. Also meet the sales team. Ask questions like: What are customers connecting with? How do they interact with the company? Who are the target audiences? What are the key product messages? What are the product differentiators? And don’t accept stock answers. “Years ago, I might not have thought to do this. Today, I understand that the data I acquire from them will inform the shape of my PR campaign,” he says.
Dump old names. Current titles handed down from the past no longer correctly describe communications functions. Many corporations now discard old titles and old schools of thought and build a new team called integrated communications, says Wendy Dessler for Flarrio. Messages remain the same; ways of communicating change. “The new name puts everyone on the same board and allows the hand-me-down rivalries of the past to be put to rest,” Dessler says.
Find win-win scenarios. Find how marketing assets can help PR gain media coverage. At the same time, find how PR can help meet marketing goals, says Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing. For instance, social media listening can spot opportunities for sales.
Build a business case. Pursue the easily obtainable “low-hanging fruit opportunities” to demonstrate how PR and marketing can work together to achieve business goals, Odden advises. Then sell the results with performance metrics that executives can appreciate.
Employ comprehensive monitoring and measurement. Marketers may lack information on earned media. PR may lack data on sales and leads. A comprehensive media monitoring and measurement solution can integrate data from all forms of media into a single dashboard. That can reveal winning strategies, such as when leads and sales spike during a major PR campaign or after a high-profile media mention.
Bottom Line: Combining PR and marketing offers substantial benefits and is the prevalent trend. The merger may sometimes involve scuffles over who will control what jobs. Initiating cooperation as early as possible and ongoing, frequent communications between the two groups can ease conflicts and improve results.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.