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And the rise of PR and sponsorship

4 May

There’s a new research report available from the Marcomms group of the CIPR: A Marketing Communications Scenario for 2010 written by Professor Philip Kitchen:

‘In the following chapters I argue that the lead activity in marketing can be public relations – and we should probably be talking about the emergence of a new discipline of Marketing PR.’

The research confirms some aspects of the marketing mix to be in decline: above the line advertising; personal selling; price-related sales promotion are cited.

Growth areas are: public relations and sponsorship; electronic point of sale; internet communication; viral marketing and blogging. (Included in the case studies is the LEWIS whale watch blog though it’s not immedately apparent to me how this counts as marcomms. Who’s selling and who’s buying?)

Feels like home

7 Apr

Urban Splash has generated a blaze of publicity for its reinvention of the back-to-back as the ‘upside down’ house (also reported on BBC Radio 4 this morning).

There’s an element of hype in this (using the overnight queue to build buzz; and how many buyers as distinct from investors can pay now and move in 18 months when the homes are ready?), but it’s a strong narrative. First, it’s a new take on the tired concept of the two-up, two-down terrace house; and second, it shows that there is strong market demand for the type of housing the government has begun to demolish under its Pathfinder programme.

PR’s just marcoms, right?

2 Feb

A marketing colleague set this hare running a few days ago, and David Phillips has entered the chase. I tried to ignore the provocation on the grounds that it merely stemmed from envy (of our reputation, coherence and, yes, market position/reputation.)

But I met an agency principal yesterday whose main service appears to be media relations. Yet he shies away from ‘public relations’ on the grounds that clients don’t understand what it is. Instead, he prefers to offer them marketing communications.

I’ve argued this view before (saying that what we do tends either to be marketing communications,  corporate communications or public affairs – so why don’t we come clean). The counter argument is that our newly chartered professional body is called the Chartered Institute of Public Relations – and this name isn’t going away. So public relations it remains, with all the confusion and baggage this brings.

Sideways glance at the future

30 Nov

Nigel Bogle of the BBH advertising agency is profiled in the Media Business section of The Guardian (free registration). This caught my eye: he calls the next big thing ‘the age of engagement’ and cites the independent film Sideways as an example of how consumers may become engaged in the future (in that case to choose Pinot Noir over Merlot wine).

Buzzword marketing

19 May

As someone who happily interchanges phrases such as buzz-, viral- and word-of-mouth marketing (but who welcomes discussion of the topic because it inevitably introduces the concepts of trust, credibility and dialogue) here’s an article on Five Common Misconceptions About Buzz Marketing from one of the subject’s key authors, Emanuel Rosen. It’s a good read.

Open source everything

28 Feb

James Cherkoff has produced a manifesto, What is Open Source Marketing? It’s beautifully produced, but perhaps not that original. As with Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, I always feel that attempts to rebuild marketing from the ground up end up recommending something very close to what we call public relations.

PR practitioners are used to losing control of messages, and of the unpredictability of third party endorsement.

For a highly original contribution to the open source debate, I recommend Douglas Rushkoff’s Demos paper Open Source Democracy from 2003.

The new persuaders

9 Nov

It’s almost 50 years since Vance Packard exposed the surreptitious power of advertising in The Hidden Persuaders.  Douglas Rushkoff self-consciously reflects this title in his TV programme on US television tonight. I’m sorry I won’t be there to watch.

All-in-one or best of breed?

9 Mar

For the benefit of IPR Advanced Certificate candidates who are reading around the concept of integrated marketing communications, take a look at this broadside from Al Ries. It’s specialisation, not intergration, that’s needed, he argues. (Via PR Machine.)

Putting blogs in their place

8 Nov

A while ago, I attempted a (short) social history of blogs – but limited my references to the past decade. Jim Horton has widened the net in this white paper (pdf file) and provides a perspective from diaries and journalism.

It’s helpful, sensible material. Marketing blogs will mainly fail because – from my PR perspective – marketing seeks to exert control. PR, by contrast, tries to exercise influence. PR practitioners are used to losing control of their messages (though they can’t always admit this to bosses and clients). Blogs may not be a great medium for selling, but they certainly are for arguing and exploring ideas.

The exception

3 Oct

How do you explain it when you get great PR in support of an innovative product – but the result is disappointing sales?

Jim Horton writes in ‘When PR is not enough’ (2 October – 10/2) about Segway and the buzz surrounding the launch of the ‘human transporter’. In this case, spectacular PR has not been matched by stellar product sales:

Segway’s introduction was one of the great PR successes. Burson-Marsteller orchestrated it, I understand, and the agency did a brilliant job… Segway might go down as exhibit A to support the statement that great PR cannot solve all problems. PR can communicate, but it might not persuade.