Public relations and marketing often operate as separate functions in large organizations. That can lead to a lack of coordination and missed opportunities. PR and marketing perform much better when they work together. Coordination helps them do together what they cannot do separately and improve the bottom line for the entire organization.
The most successful organizations tend to have cohesive marketing and PR programs working side-by-side to promote the business. Coordination between PR and marketing brings credibility, consistency and greater visibility to corporate communications messages, says Jessica Tiller, executive vice president and co-founder of Weiss PR Inc.
“Think of marketing and PR like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies — they just go together,” Tiller writes in in O’Dwyer’s.
The Disappearing Differences between PR & Marketing
Traditionally, PR focused on media relations and building relationships with key publics such as investors and employees as well as journalists. Marketing oversaw advertising, promotional materials and gathering customer information through surveys and focus groups. While PR focused on safeguarding the brand’s reputation, marketing concentrated on boosting sales. Today, either PR or marketing may handle social media, manage a company blog, and submit guest posts.
Today, PR and marketing collide, overlap and intertwine. Communications professionals agree that PR and marketing are merging. 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, according to the 2018 Global Communications Report from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 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, the report reveals.
How PR and Marketing Can Cooperate Better
Here are some ways PR and marketing can work better together.
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.
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.
Share goals. Determine common goals for PR and marketing as well as other functions like social media. While their strategies differ, goals should be the same. Without results-focused objectives that match corporate goals, PR often produces content without real purpose. Sharing goals can help PR focus on activities that improve marketing outcomes.
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. Measuring results can demonstrate the value of PR and marketing collaboration and build a business case to present to management. “Find a low hanging fruit opportunity with motivated collaborators to show how digital marketing and PR integration can improve achievement of business goals,” Odden advises. “Then sell the results with performance metrics that execs can appreciate.”
Cross-department meetings. Attending meetings of the other department helps ensure that different sections know about the projects, goals and campaigns of other groups. Have at least one member of each group attend meetings of the other team.
Develop integrated campaigns. PR can support lead generation and paid campaigns. For example, PR can use data from an industry or consumer survey to secure media coverage, and later repurpose the data for content marketing such as blog posts and e-books, social programs, email campaigns and paid lead generation and advertising efforts.
Comprehensive monitoring and measurement. Marketers typically gather and analyze data related to sales and leads. They may not always include earned media in their analysis. Leads and sales might abruptly increase during a large PR campaign or even after a single high-profile media mention. Aligning a coordinated marketing campaign with PR victories can increase sales even more. To sufficiently measure PR’s contribution to corporate goals, it’s important that PR work with the marketing team before, during and after an announcement or campaign launch. While PR often oversees media measurement, marketers can also obtain substantial value from enterprise media monitoring and measurement. Data from news and social media offer a potential goldmine of information on a brand’s customers, prospects, products and competitors. It also can provide insights about consumer reaction to marketing and advertising campaigns.
Share information. Because customers often research products online before purchases, PR content creators have become pre-salesmen. Marketing can inform PR about the types of content, messages and delivery channels that best drive customers to purchases. PR, in turn, can listen to influencers and customers in an attempt to validate that data and report what they learn to marketing.
Use data to inform, but not to dictate content. Particularly in technology PR, people mistakenly believe media pitches to reporters and articles should be stuffed with data, says Dorothy Crenshaw of Crenshaw Communications. However, most people remember stories better than data.
Have fun together. Lunches, outings and celebrations with different departments can build camaraderie. Having fun together helps build trust among team members and ensures that people feel comfortable leaning on each other for support.
Bottom Line: PR and marketing professionals can improve performance of both of their departments and the overall organization by working together closely. With greater cooperation and enhanced measurement, marketing and PR can better demonstrate to management how both functions have helped the organization meet financial goals and improve corporate reputation.
This post was first published on March 27, 2017, and updated on Jan. 8, 2019.
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, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.