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Marketing and PR - It is Time for Joined up Thinking

Geometry PR Director, Linda Donaldson reveals the effectiveness of a PR campaign and how businesses can market themselves better.

As a business owner I am asked a lot about my business and the services we provide.  I am continually surprised at the low level of understanding about what public relations is and the effectiveness of a PR campaign as a business marketing technique. PR is often referred to as a dark art, I find it somewhat paradoxical that an industry, which is all about communication has apparently failed to communicate its function in a clear and business friendly fashion.  It is about time that changed. 

Perhaps one of the issues is that there is a real tendency for the words ‘marketing’ and ‘PR’ to be divorced from each other, particularly when business people talk about promoting their business. To me marketing is simply a generic word used to describe promotion. It is the umbrella term under which all promotional techniques that marketers use sit such as advertising and public relations. However, public relations is commonly referred to separately as a standalone service that has little to do with the marketing strategy, similarly I have noticed that traditional and digital media campaigns are talked about as if the two don’t complement or amplify each other.

To create a meaningful promotional campaign requires a fundamental understanding of the business objectives. It requires a clear strategy and target audience (aka customer) and message. This is true for any technique or campaign whether being run on or offline or across both media.  PR is usually considered to be shorthand for press relations or releases. However, PR is short for Public Relations which, in its broadest context, is any method of publicly communicating information about your business. That can be via the media, through presentations by personnel and by actions as well as words.

Whether you are creating a newsletter, an advertising campaign, a website, blog, literature or direct mail it is all public communication. The promotional messages and unique selling points of your business should be consistently visible to your target audience/s (customer) regardless of the medium chosen.  The technique chosen is determined by what you deem to be the most effective way of reaching that audience. 

A PR consultant should understand all the various marketing techniques available and be able to identify and advise on the most effective approach that will help your business achieve its objectives given the constraints of your budget. Sounds simple? Not rocket science? Well, anything is easy if you know how. 

Creating a communications strategy requires holistic thinking. Invariably this requires the help of unbiased consultants who recognise where it is appropriate to invest in one technique over another in order to build an effective campaign that will deliver the results your business needs. 

To deliver a meaningful PR campaign requires a deep understanding of marketing, business strategy and in particular how your business operates within the wider economy.

I am regularly told that marketing is a soft subject, that anyone can write a press release. This maybe so, but I would argue the expertise is knowing if it's relevant, appropriate and the correctly chosen public relations/marketing technique for your business.

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