Marketing Strategy – Creating Value Through Public Relations

Public relations (PR) is one of many keys to successful business management. In addition to conveying value to the public to include the media, PR entails managing internal and external messages, which may enhance or diminish a brand. The following outlines how the public relations piece fits into the big (marketing strategy) picture.

Big Picture Small Pieces

There is a comprehensive approach to owning and operating a business. Finance, accounting, management, marketing, legal, information systems (technology), and economics are tools which all contribute to the success of a venture. By far however, marketing is the most popular business function.

Marketing Defined

The marketplace is comprised of buyers and sellers who want or need a product. In order to bring exact or prospective buyers together with the appropriate sellers, companies must create a healthy marketing mix.

Marketing entails efforts used to create value in the marketplace and obtain a return for that value. The core of marketing centers on four Ps: product (good or service), price, placement, and promotions. However, consumers and business owners alike are most familiar with three of five aspects of promotions (or marketing communications): advertising, public relations, and sales.

All told, marketing campaigns should center on properly priced and placed products. Subsequently, all promotional efforts such as public relations should reinforce or support a company’s short and long-term goals by product. Balance between the creative aspects of marketing (cool, fun, compelling, engaging, eye-catching, and trendy) and science (facts, figures and measurement controls) helps to ensure success.

PPR 101

Despite economic decline, there appears to be no lull in demand for PR professionals or publicists. If anything, demand is likely to increase.

The primary role of a publicist is to manage public affairs (relations) or external communications. In addition to keeping communication going between buyers and sellers, publicists build relationships on a company’s behalf; create and/or maintain a good corporate image and damage control negative publicity. Glamorized for their ability or need to access high profile, celebrity or exclusive events, being a publicist is hard work. In fact, it requires more work than most realize.

Celebrity publicist and owner of Divadends Entertainment, ChiQ Simms, agrees that being a publicist is no easy task “As a publicist, it is my job to ‘earn’ media coverage by supplying information that is factual, interesting, timely and newsworthy,” Simms says. One not-so-glamorous aspect of PR work is the issue of crisis management. According to Simms, a crisis is, “any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of a brand and its executive team.” Issues such as a legal dispute, theft, an accident or domestic conflict and natural or manmade disasters are crisis, which may devalue a brand or its image. Even how a company acts or fails to respond appropriately to a situation can lead to crisis. Usually, a situation reaches crisis status because of adverse or negative media attention. For this reason, Simms notes that a good publicist will always create a standard crisis communication plan. “It is imperative that a crisis communication plan, a crisis management team and a company spokesperson are all a part of a company’s PR objectives,” Simms advised.

Through her Professional Public Relations (PPR 101) panel-oriented seminar, Simms collaborates with various entertainment media (print, online, TV, radio, bloggers, etc.) and PR professionals to help attendees understand how to garner national publicity as well as how to address crisis. After attending PPR 101, it is immediately clear that publicity is not automatic. It is also clear that PR should be managed independently from all other marketing functions. Says Simms, “I have to conduct countless behind-the-scenes conversations and build relationships that lay the ground work required to get a client’s message to the public-especially the media. It is an ongoing labor-intensive process.”

In addition to conducting research on a variety of media outlets (for example, the 2009 Writer’s Market lists 3,500 publications in the U.S. and Canada who hire journalists), publicists must repeatedly create or revise content and pitch coverage concepts before, during and after news happens. Publicists must also remain in a constant state of prospecting, even while managing a promotional event such as a celebrity red carpet, press junket, radio or TV interview. Idea or lead generation and high conversion of leads to preferred results is what gives each publicist their edge.

Today’s global society, blogging communities and technology (iPhone and GPhone) keep publicists and other marketing professionals on their toes. Easily out-numbered, the proven method for creating value through public relations is having a narrow message and being able to execute a detailed marketing plan.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that consistency and integrity balanced with timing are vital. With enough lead time, a schedule, a reasonable budget and a detailed brand-driven marketing strategy, which includes a solid communications plan, a publicist can build awareness, drive demand for a product and, subsequently, increase sales.