I had the pleasure of attending a webinar last week titled “The Anti-Debate: How the PR/Marketing Partnership Should Evolve in 2021.” It was a good reminder about how PR and Marketing really can and should work together, and how each discipline needs to learn from the other to deliver the best business results.
The webinar hammered home the importance of them doing together, pointing out what they cannot do separately, to improve the bottom line for their clients and brands. More often than not, successful organizations have marketing and PR programs working cohesively to promote the business. Coordination between PR and marketing brings consistency, credibility and greater visibility to corporate communications messages.
As webinar speaker Jen Sey, SVP and CMO, Levi Strauss & Co. commented:
“We still think about how to execute the marketing in such a way that it gets enhanced through PR, so there’s a PR story. Paid media gets us reach to a broad audience that is difficult to achieve through PR alone. But PR gets us focused engagement with very specific targets, and it’s also a third-party endorsement oftentimes which is incredibly meaningful. We don’t think of them as a binary at all, we think both are necessary to drive engagement and reach.”
It got me thinking about what I have witnessed over the years. Every large-scale program I have worked on at agencies throughout my career has had the best success when PR, marketing and other departments within the client roster are hitting on all cylinders and fully working in coordination with one another.
But that is easier said than done.
Historically, PR and marketing rarely joined together to prove ROI. PR focused on media relations and building relationships with journalists, employees, investors, etc. Marketing oversaw advertising, promotional materials and gathering customer information through focus groups and surveys. While PR focused on protecting the brand’s reputation, marketing concentrated more on boosting sales.
Unfortunately, public relations and marketing still operate as separate functions in some large organizations. That lack of coordination can lead to missed opportunities to promote the business. But there are signs that the times are changing. Part of that change is recognizing what each discipline can learn from the other.
How PR and marketing can work better together:
- Cooperate as early and often as possible. PR and marketing pros can develop more successful campaigns by engaging with each other frequently and starting the collaboration early in the process. Collaborative meetings help make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Educate yourself in other disciplines: Try to learn as much about the other team as you can. PR should know as much about marketing as possible and vice versa.
As Jen Sey from Levi Strauss & Co., reiterated in the recent webinar:
“While we have a dedicated PR team, everybody is developing some capability in it so they’re always thinking through when I’m developing content how do I bring in my PR partners to ensure that we have the strongest PR angle possible that will play off of this paid content story. They might not be experts in it, but they know it’s an incredibly powerful tool in their marketing quiver and that their campaign won’t be successful if they’re not also considering that piece of it.”
- Share goals across teams. Determining common goals for PR and marketing as well as other functions like social media is critical. While strategies can differ, goals should be the same. Sharing goals can actually help PR focus on activities that improve marketing outcomes.
- Integrate your campaign development. PR absolutely should support paid campaigns whenever possible. For example, PR can use industry or consumer survey data to secure media coverage, and later repurpose the data for content marketing such as blog posts, social programs, email campaigns and advertising efforts.
As Stuart Smith, Chief Marketing & Growth Officer at Caulipower said in the webinar:
“I believe in the muscle that PR can bring to an idea. I don’t think any idea should see the light of day from marketing that hasn’t been touched by a PR person because I know that they can add value.”
- Utilize comprehensive media monitoring and measurement. Marketers gather and analyze data related to sales and leads but they don’t always include earned media in their analysis. Sales and leads might increase quickly during a large PR campaign or even after a high-profile media mention. Coordinating a 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.
Moving forward toward a better future
The merging of PR and marketing is more evident than ever. The disciplines must work together and appreciate the fact that each can benefit from the others’ strengths. A true partnership will not only allow each to do their jobs better, but also to best serve their brands. Acknowledging that there are areas in which the other discipline excels is important to this partnership.
Communications professionals are in agreement that PR and marketing are heading in the right direction. Ninety percent of PR agency professionals and 82 percent of in-house PR pros predict public relations will become more integrated with marketing over the next five years, according to the Global Communications Report from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Another webinar speaker Linda Rutherford, SVP and CCO at Southwest Airlines acknowledges that PR and marketing departments at Southwest Airlines have different reporting lines but they make it work. Rutherford reports into the CEO, while the CMO reports into the chief commercial officer. However, she says the two have a very close working relationship.
“Regardless of whether or not your departments are organizationally connected, one of the most important professional relationships that a CCO can have right now is with the CMO,” she said. While the PR and marketing departments at Southwest each have their own analytics team, the two teams meet daily and pull from one another in their reports to their higher-ups. “Our teams are very collaborative,” said Rutherford.
Keeping in mind what is best for your business or brand, this increase in collaboration can only lead to better days for the industry as a whole. I left the webinar feeling very optimistic and reinvigorated about the future workings of PR and marketing.
If you’re a PR or marketing pro looking for the best in media monitoring and analysis, Burrelles has a wide variety of options within its portfolio to help you meet your business needs. Feel free to contact us for more information or to answer any questions!