Public Relations and Marketing Work More Closely Than Ever. And it’s a Good Thing.

Posted by Alexa DiGaetano

Introducing the “Getting Real with Garfield Group” Series. We took to our employees - the experts on the frontlines of our agency - to see how they really feel about some pressing issues in our respective lines of work. This series of blog posts offers our readers a deeper look into the minds of the Garfield Group team to understand how we approach our day-to-day work while learning about our overall approach to strategy and company culture.

By: Alexa DiGaetano, Account Executive

Public relations and marketing root themselves in strategy. Some critics of (or those who misunderstand) public relations may feel surprised to learn everything that goes into crafting a public relations campaign: the media list and pitch they expect represent the result of customer, market and competitive research which informs and advises messaging and positioning. The same effort goes into marketing strategy, but when building a marketing plan, public relations can fold in as a tactic.

Marketing’s effectiveness only expands with public relations, but marketing can fall short without a holistic campaign including implementations of other disciplines. This need for integration rules the industry: agencies now seek employees with varying skill sets attributed to both communication and marketing, and the agencies themselves tout multiple specialties under one roof. In essence, one-sided approaches no longer cut it. The public relations industry skated by on single service offerings, like media relations, for years, but our industry - and our clients - now look to the bigger picture to reap the most benefit.

Public relations certainly lends to the bigger picture. Message accuracy and two-way communication aid in relationship building. Media relations resulting in earned media contributes to thought leadership. Responsiveness and transparency in crisis communications and strong internal communication generate a trusted reputation both within and outside company walls - but each tactic extends only so far.

Marketing reinforces and broadens the impact, especially due to public relations’ limited control over how a message reaches an audience, where a message resides and how clearly it communicates upon receipt. Marketing steps in to fill this gap by uniting its strategy with that of a public relations campaign to syndicate, enhance and solidify the message across controlled platforms such as company websites, media buys and promotional materials. Without these extended marketing reaches, public relations only succeeds to a certain degree.

Marketing efforts also benefit from public relations. Consumers now hold much more power in the marketplace, and public relations helps marketers embrace this trend by connecting them with their audiences. Earned media contributes to third-party validation as does social media’s empowering of word-of-mouth - helping to build thought leadership presence and generate conversation amongst consumers. Most importantly, public relations helps marketers achieve two-way communication previously reserved for public relations efforts. This stabilizes the flow of conversation to and from audiences while helping marketers prepare for and welcome feedback which further informs strategy.

For those public relations practitioners who feel jeopardized by the shift, I challenge you to consider how public relations’ reputation suffers at the hands of the “Edward Bernays” and the publicity mongers of our field. Integration under the marketing umbrella only empowers public relations professionals as they begin to earn more seats at executive tables and expose more clients to the benefits - and truth - of public relations: clients seek a trusted collaborator who fully understands their business to execute the brand and its messaging to the utmost degree, and public relations offers that confidence.

Integrated remains the future of the communication and marketing industries. Achieving a balance between uncontrolled and controlled messaging becomes clear when public relations acts within a marketing program, and working in a cohesive environment which fosters the bonds between each department generates the creativity and vision to attain such a goal - both for our firms and our clients.