Once upon a time marketing and public relations were seen as the opposite sides of two different coins. Now marketing PR is viewed as a smart combination of communications skills.
When mass media ruled, marketing was all about advertising. You could run an ad in the major local newspaper, a national magazine or TV network and be assured of a huge audience. But those days have vanished with the rise of the Internet.
It takes more nowadays than a clever ad to reach and captivate your target audience. In fact, the key is finding your target audience.
That's where the discipline of marketing is important. Marketers use research techniques to identify and confirm their prime audience, so messages and promotions can be tailored for them.
After you find your target audience, you have to connect with it. That's where PR comes into play. Public relations professionals rely on a varied bag of tricks — events, contests, social media and information-rich websites — to attract, inform and engage audiences.
Firms that specialize in marketing PR have blended the skills and expertise of marketers and PR professionals. The result is a team that zeroes in on a target audience and employs tactics that pull that audience toward a brand, service or idea.
"Advertising shouts a message at customers," explains CFM Account Manager Suzie Giacomelli. "Marketing PR offers an opportunity to engage them."
Even advertising agencies have grudgingly accepted a changed universe and have evolved into integrated communications firms. Likewise, marketing PR shops have recognized advertising plays an important role in maintaining brand awareness and sustaining consumer interest.
"As use of the Internet has grown and digital information is more accessible on mobile devices, everyone in the strategic communications continuum has been forced to adjust," explains CFM Digital Strategist Hannah Smith. "A decade ago, the new idea was building a website. Now companies and organizations are clamoring to establish a presence on social media."
Technology and consumer preferences will continue to change, placing a premium on the capability of communications to be nimble. "But marketing PR isn't about selling the services you offer," says Smith. "It is about choosing the winning strategy."
"The goal remains targeting who you want to reach and finding ways that create a real connection with that audience," Giacomelli says. "The techniques and tactics we use should be secondary to the goal. We need to use what works."
And that is the spirit and the modus vivendi of marketing PR.