Updated: Jan 18
In late July, Huawei had to deal with an unfortunate case of a marketing promotion plan that had gone awry. A few weeks later, Huawei put up a job ad on LinkedIn looking for a PR Director. Many came online to support the search while some asked if Huawei should consider hiring a Marketing Director instead.
Having spent two decades in public relations, I see the importance of the role PR plays in any organisation. While some organisations combine the marketing and PR into a hybrid role, it is also typical for the PR team to be a single function-core team. In most organisations, the public relations and marketing teams work like a hand in a glove, strengthening and complementing the communication strategies, making it more effective.
Here are the reasons why and how the PR team complement the marketing team to bring total value propositions to organisations:
Raise brand awareness: The PR team is essentially the organisation’s storytellers. They raise brand awareness and identity by bringing your stories to life. When brand stories get published or printed on traditional media, social media, websites, or influencer platforms, you are potentially reaching your target audience. When done right, authentic stories draw the audience and builds credibility.
Identify your target audience: The PR team works hard identifying the needs of your target audience through intelligence gathering from traditional and social media, influencer platforms, marketing team info, or focus groups. They help to identify the target audience by selecting those that have a connection with you ensuring they can resonate with your brand. Crafted stories are well-thought-through with messages that are relevant to these chosen group. Once a target audience is identified, the team focus on the right channel and provide advice on the best tactics to reach them.
Establish and promote thought leadership: The PR team and the management team need to have an excellent relationship to sieve free potential publicity for the organisation. The PR team works closely with key stakeholders and leadership team to establish brand ambassadors and develop thought leaders which audience can trust and relate. Getting your leaders featured in the media positively, can raise the visibility of your organisation’s expertise and niche areas.
Free authentic publicity: While a budget to spend on advertorial space is good, who would refuse free advertising, right? Thus, it may be beneficial to feature an article written by your thought leaders in their niche area or provide comments and quotes to a topic of their expertise. A good PR team’s job is to find every good opportunity for the organisation’s thought leader to be featured. If done right, the media will see our spokesperson as the ‘come to person’ and top of mind recall for media stories. It is free and builds a good company reputation.
Building relationships: Building relationships and trustworthy ones with community leaders, stakeholders, and members of the media will be a crucial component in peace times. It is, after all, the DNA in all PR officers. Media connections and good relations with the various stakeholders during peacetime can help to alleviate a more positive image of our situation during a crisis, and this is key so that the PR team can get the right support during such times.
Managing a collective voice: With the proliferation of social media where everyone is digitally connected, PR helps to maintain a consistent voice among the platforms. Beyond managing crisis, they mitigate and manage the organisation’s reputation by establishing trust with the target audience and providing the right messages to them.
While many may perceive public relations as a glamorous job or role, it takes a lot of hard work. PR is not free, and it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships. The professionals take pride in their meet and greet sessions, regular phone calls, organised lunches, and press conferences to drive awareness to maintain positive organisation reputation. Through these regular engagements and understanding what the media wants, this core team can help an organisation to be perceived as sincere, successful, and authentic.
(This article was first published on Marketing in Asia on 26 August 2019)