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#PR: What Do Advertising, Marketing, and Sales Have in Common with PR?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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A few months ago, Diane Schwartz (Senior VP & Group Publisher Media/PR Group at PR News) wrote a blog piece asking a very important and thought-generating question. Her column, PR is Sales is Marketing is Advertising, discussed some reasons why these three areas, which usually work separately from PR, should in fact be working with PR.

Wait, you say! Do you mean to tell me a sales person, or a marketer, or a person who works on your organization’s advertising campaign can do the same job as a PR person? Well, not quite. Let me explain.

Talking to us flacks, Ms Schwartz noted: “The lines are blurry. As a communicator you are usually selling something — an idea, a story, an interview to the media, a budget, a campaign. To close on that effort — to get the story, win the account, score a larger budget — is a similar feeling your Marketing counterpart has when [his/]her campaign idea is approved or when a customer buys the product based on [his/]her messaging. And the salesperson down the hall from you? He is always prospecting, aims to be in front of clients or at least on the phone with them, understanding their pain points and their spending limits.” (Slightly edited by me for greater clarity.)

Okay. Now we start to see where the roles of Sales, Marketing, and Advertising may have some crossover with PR. But are there better ways for all three areas to be on the same playing field as us flacks? Let’s see what Ms Schwartz suggests: “These three levers of Communications — PR, Marketing, Sales — are at their best when they’re working together, not separately. Most practitioners and strategists agree with the premise, but the underlying pain points, frustrations, budgetary constraints, conflicting goals may stop the three from even wanting to work together.”

Aha! Ever had the feeling you would love to work with your counterpart in Sales, or Marketing, or Advertising, but just have been frustrated you could not reach some common goals together?

Maybe there is hope after all. Schwartz sagely opines that the best communicators are those who know what Marketing is doing, who work with Sales to help attract and close new business, and who lobby extensively for common messaging across all media channels. As she says, “If you shy away from Sales or snub your nose at Marketing (that department that steals some of your budget), then you will be OK, possibly. That is to say, you can get by. But to be an extraordinary communications executive you need to spend some time in their shoes.”

You may now say, “I’ll buy that. But how do I do that? How can I spend time in Sales, or Marketing, or Advertising?”

Schwartz suggested three main things to address that question. First, she suggests taking the lead on a sales call… talk to your sales department and ask them to let you be the lead on one sales call… from initial contact with or inquiry from a prospect through to completion. I guarantee you will come away with an increased appreciation for all the hard work your company’s Sales team does, day in and day out.

The next item she suggested a good communicator (that is, us flacks) should do is taking off your PR hat and trying to wear a Marketing hat for a change. She notes: “Sit in on Marketing meetings and listen without your PR hat on. Understand how they measure success and manage budgets. Ask to work on a campaign in which you need to partner with the PR team. It’s not always easy to collaborate and see the other side. As a marketer, you may want to spend more on b-to-c advertising while PR is pushing for a media relations push with the trade press. Find common ground and share in the hits and misses.”

Finally, she suggests we up an integrated communications meeting to be held monthly. At these meetings, which could be a morning breakfast with coffee, bagels, donuts, juices, and croissants, you can talk things over with Sales, with Marketing, with Advertising. Find out what worked and what did not work with the last campaign or major branding endeavor. Brainstorm how to improve ROI. Be not afraid to ask for help and guidance for your PR media blitz, if you need it. Use the monthly meeting to bring everyone together on current initiatives.

If you do these, I believe (as does Ms Schwartz) you will find greater harmony and increased efficiency across all the communications areas of your company.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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