Traditionally, the public relations team focused on protecting the brand reputation, while it was the job of marketing to get the sales. These days it doesn’t make sense for the two teams to work in silos. If your company is still treating PR and marketing as independent entities you’re cutting off the cooperation that builds your brand as a whole.
Whether it’s your employees, investors, journalists or the customer off the street, the increased transparency under which everyone works means that your marketing has to align across the board. Here are four ways PR and marketing go hand-in-hand.
When you’re constantly marketing a product, ideas can get stale and content gets boring. When PR gets feedback, they can funnel the positive feedback to the marketing team and negative feedback can go to product development for product improvement or additional products to solve customer pain points. All of the feedback, positive and negative can be strategized as content for social media and the brand’s website, increasing customer engagement.
Engagement should be driven in a single direction with a consistent brand presence. When PR and marketing work together the slogans, logos, style and messaging are consistent to internal and external customers. No matter which team is communicating the brand goals, the messaging should look and feel the same while aligning with the company’s internal actions. The PR team can be integral to “marketing” the company to its own employees. Only by connecting employees to the products they sell can companies create the emotional connection that makes a great sales team that believes in what they are bringing to market.
Recently, companies have had to deal with the fallout of failing to align the employee experience with the brand messaging. Glossier, a beauty startup based on “no makeup” makeup said their mission was to “give everyone a voice about the beauty products we use” but then had to deal with dozens of allegations of racism in the workplace. Other companies that have been called out for their brand images of inclusivity not matching what they do include Nike, Apple and Amazon, among dozens of other big brands. While the PR and marketing teams don’t have control over the C-Suite, they can help the companies understand that messaging must match up with action or both media and consumers will note the problem.
The reason that consistent messaging internally and externally is so important is that customers have access to information like never before. A company’s social media doesn’t just sell a product, it sells the ethos of the company. One way it can do that most effectively is using the data that PR collects to craft its marketing messaging. When PR teams sit down with customers for audience feedback collected through day-long sessions or simple feedback forms, that information includes what customers want and need from the company. Marketing uses that information to drive the public faces of the company.
Audience engagement also means how customer service is handled. Every time a customer service call is received, the customer is forming an opinion of the company. If that opinion is negative they are likely to share their feelings across the internet. It takes five positive experiences to overcome one bad experience. Teaching your customer service team that they aren’t just about taking care of calls quickly, but that they are part of the PR and marketing team is imperative to maintaining positive customer experiences. Those positive experiences translate into mentions across all media, social and traditional.
The melding of PR and marketing
It used to be that PR was the team responsible for building reputation and marketing would sell the product, but as you can see through the examples above, reputation has become everything. Companies have realized there is no brand story without reputation. Consider a high-end clothing brand. In the past, the PR team would have sent out samples and worked with fashion magazines that fit their image to help create the brand story. They would help the sales team get their clothing into exclusive retailers that reeked of money and exclusivity. The marketing department, on the other hand, would have worked on creating advertisements and marketing campaigns to target the end consumers. Their goal was to get bodies into those exclusive stores and buy their merchandise. With the rise of social media, there’s a huge overlap in those markets.
A social media campaign might target the end consumer, but it might also work to build relationships with some of those consumers to become representatives of the brand in their own right. The fashion editors are perusing the same social media accounts looking for items that fit their image. The idea of reputation has become a commodity that is both bought and sold through social media, melding the traditional media, the companies and the end consumers into a feedback loop.
Not only do PR and marketing need to work hand-in-hand, it’s increasingly clear that separating the departments can actually be a detriment to your branding plan.