False alt binaries

29 May

There’s something compelling about binary choices: Celtic or Rangers? Labour or Conservative? Montague or Capulet? Yet they’re frequently false alternatives.

What about PR or marketing? The issue interests writers and academics who aim to position and pigeonhole; the issue interests practitioners who are lobbying for influence or budgets; and it interests young people who are deciding whether a marketing or public relations degree will look better on their CV and provide good career prospects.

Prmarketing So as an aid to them (and as a provocation to almost everyone else), the picture shows how I would explain this false binary alternative to those choosing between PR and marketing for a course or a career.

3 Responses to “False alt binaries”

  1. Heather Yaxley 29/05/2007 at 1:41 pm #

    I’ve just read a very interesting dissertation which seems to show that PR has much less influence than marketing in organisations owing to its focus on social/communication skills rather than analytical ones. I’d like to see more appreciation of numeracy in public relations (instead of dodgy surveys and statistics).
    Also there is a lot of debate about “social marketing” shifting focus from customers to stakeholders (PR should promote understanding of publics and issues)
    That leaves editorial vs advertising (which seems a rather old-fashioned distinction today) and relationships vs exchange, which again seems out of date with marketing’s focus on loyalty programmes (although these are exchange relationships).
    Isn’t part of the confusion that today we seem to equate marketing just to promotion or communications – what has happened to its role in product, price and place? Similarly has PR nothing more to add to organisations than an ability to communicate and make friends?

  2. Richard Bailey 29/05/2007 at 2:56 pm #

    So in the end it comes down to nomenclature. (I’m on record as arguing for an end to the use of ‘public relations’ in favour of the more honest and descriptive ‘marketing communications’ and ‘corporate communications’).
    But I can’t leave it there. Why is marketing reinventing and repositioning itself as something so similar to public relations that we’re splitting hairs to find a distinction? (‘Internal marketing’ and ‘viral marketing’ are examples of this.) Could it be that traditional marketing techniques are losing effectiveness (think of advertising) and the challenge is now that of establishing and maintaining legitimacy with key audiences? (think public relations).
    If the nineteenth century was the age of production, then the twentieth was undoubtedly the age of marketing and branding. Perhaps the twenty-first will be the age of public relations?

  3. David Phillips 30/05/2007 at 4:14 pm #

    No Richard.. you can’t get away with that. You will first need to define relationship.
    I am still working on it but the relationship value model seems OK still.
    As soon as we get there, then Heather’s point is simple to answer – No relationship = nill advertising effect.
    I wonder if here student had seen the longitudinal studies of comparative editorial and advertising response costing. I know it goes back to the ’89’s (I published one such study in ‘Evaluating PR’).
    The upshot is that editorial coverage enhanced the ROI of advertising out of all recognition.
    There is no reason to believe that in the 21st century UGC is not having an even greater impact.
    Further to Richard’s point. Marketing falls apart completely when market/brand segmentation is in the hands of the consumer who can choose to join of leave at will.
    Then the word demographic becomes obscene. Not sure what that does to marketing. Is it an obscene internal virus?

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