Is PR moving to the center of marketing?

It was the night before …. no not Christmas! But all fool’s day. Come 1st of April, 2016 and a range of pranks hit the social media.

This one by  furniture e-tailer, Urban Ladder, was perfect ahead of a long weekend.

My question to you is. When you first saw the prank-or the pre April disastrous AI bot ‘Tay Tweets’ by Microsoft did you think it was a PR idea or a marketing idea?

The thing is it could be either.  Even if PR did no come up with the idea, the fact that it reached you was possible without social PR. Which is why today’s marketing textbook is being rewritten by PR and rapidly.

No place for marketing without PR

Nikita Das who as ‎director PR & marketing at Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, handles an integrated role says, “In this digital age it’s almost laughable to consider any PR campaign that doesn’t involve work on the company website content development and social media, or an advertising campaign that doesn’t involve PR. The days of the 4p’s PR marketing mix are long lost & gone. The marketing mix is now very fluid, with every discipline overlapping and becoming increasingly interdependent and it’s this integrated approach which is needed to develop an organization’s voice.”

It's social media which is busy changing how PR is viewed within marketing.

Nikita points out that, “With the new media framework, which now places as much value on social and online communications as traditional, there are now even bigger opportunities for PRs to produce even bolder ideas which work in tandem with all other functions of marketing. Add to this the fact that PR is still the function which can provide the timeliest outreach to the outside world and PR is put not only right at the center of the marketing mix, but also at the center of the company’s outreach.”

Subhrangshu Neogi, director – group marketing & brand, Religare Enterprises Ltd., points out that conversations with stakeholders have been added to the PR portfolio. He says, “Fundamentally we need to see PR in the broader space of earned media and “engaging conversations” which drives credibility and authenticity and in turn helps in building long term trust for your brand. If used as a strategic tool it can become an effective differentiator for your brand in the long run both in the B2C and the B2B context.”

Measuring PR vs rest of marketing

The reason why PR continues to be stacked low in marketing as compared to advertising is the great measurement conundrum. How to accurately measure PR and assess its business value.

Nandini Chatterjee, executive director, corporate communications, PwC India says, “ PR will always be about earning reputation. It is not about sales generated. It is about trust, credibility...all which influence the buying decision. For example, companies that are making a difference to society, attract talent, are appreciated by investors and this differentiates them in the market too as people are more positively inclined to use their products and services. In the past, we haven't had analytics to accurately quantify reputation. “

This is changing rapidly.

Says Nikita, “With the wildfire growth of social PR, the accountability in terms of reach, immersions, click through ratios & SEO & SEM of a brands audience engagement makes PR an indispensable function of marketing heavily relying on scalability & measurement.”

A recent article by Shift Communications, attempted to analyze where PR would fit into a typical marketing technology stack based on discussion shared at the MarTech San Francisco conference.

As per the article, PR typically generates as output trust and awareness as opposed to marketing that would measure the entire customer purchase funnel. Taking the example of the marketing stack of design software company PTC, it shared all the tech used by the company in marketing:

The graph below shows in green where PR would work in the stack above:

Clearly, as the green highlights show, PR enhances the effect of other marketing technologies. As the distance between a customer and the brand narrows, PR will only grow. Even more reason for PR professionals to sharpen their skills for the challenges ahead.

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