Reputation and Marketing: two sides of the same coin!

Public Relations and Marketing are often thought of as two sides of the same coin – they both involve communicating and promoting an organisation to audiences.

The functions of Marketing and PR are often intertwined in organisations. Coming from completely different perspectives, they often work closely together. Marketing, in essence, is the value creation of a product or a service for its consumers while PR relates more to establishing a connection between an organisation and its publics.

Both of these as management functions aim to achieve the same purpose, pursuing different paths. If you take an integrated view on Brand and Reputation, you can see the implication: Reputation is not a matter of having a “good” or a “bad” one. Reputation refers to the stakeholders of an organisation – and must be conceptualised from their perspective. So, here’s an innovative concept – the inter-dependence of Brand and Reputation Management.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airways, had pointed out: “Build brands not around products but around reputation”. This leads to three insights: the corporate brand – reflects what the corporation aspires to be; reputation – the other side of the coin – is how people feel about the company or the person. Accordingly, social media can be monitored to enhance and protect your reputation. As a strong performer, you need a strong brand and an even better reputation to succeed.

Since PR is all about ‘reputation’, you can take it that Reputation and Marketing are indeed, two ways of looking at things.

Here’s a look at where the two fields are similar.

  • It’s about the audience

PR and marketing professionals are reaching out to different audiences through their approach. Marketing = sales, PR = Relationships that can lead to building a good Reputation. The end user of a marketing campaign is the customer who is persuaded to purchase an organisation’s product/services. In PR, the end user is not necessarily a customer – it can be anyone ranging from the government to media or potential investors to environmental groups, trade analysts and so on.

In marketing everything you do targets directly the “buyer” of your company’s product.  In PR, you don’t have as many direct touchpoints with the customer, but you do end up reaching them indirectly through channels such as the media, social media and conferences – meaning your activities will impact visibility.

  • Framing your message appropriately

Understanding the differences in your audience and delivery also changes the kinds of messages PR and Marketing try to communicate. When communicating directly with the buyer, marketing messages are centered around products and companies, and less about perspectives on issues. Marketing messaging can describe how a particular solution resolves an issue that customers’ face. These aren’t the kind of stories that make headlines, but they influence the decisions of buyers and pave the way for sales.

PR’s more indirect approach means stories are not directly linked to products or solutions but tie into perspectives on issues. PR messages end up being communicated in print, broadcast or online. These messages are not “hard sell” and have to be interesting and relatable to someone who isn’t a customer or a prospect.

  • Measuring success

Ultimately, marketing is measured by the ability to foster relationships with potential customers, highlight the benefits of their product and develop leads that become customers. While marketing is more closely tied to incoming revenue, and results are linked more directly to customers’ activities.

In PR, it’s important to consider the results in a wider context. A media hit isn’t just an exciting win in PR – a great story raises visibility for a brand and creates an additional ‘touchpoint’ for readers. And, social media content can effectively get the message across about why people should pay attention to your organisation.

  • 4Ps of Reputation

Like the 4Ps in Marketing, I have derived the 4 Ps of Reputation. Firstly, there’s Passion in reputation management, where the focus is on the brand‘s Performance. It’s the performance that proves to be good or bad for the publics.  Building a reputation is a Proactive game, and once the reputation is established, it can prove to be a game changer! And lastly, a good reputation can lead to a Paradigm shift for the organisation, which can lead to marketing success of the brand, which in turn can have an impact on the bottomline.

  • Perception and Profits

PR is all about long-term perception management, while Marketing aims for profit-based results. A Marketing campaign generates short-term results measured by number of sales or leads once the campaign is over. On the other hand, a clever PR campaign yields long-term results, where the end user takes away a perception that may last a lifetime. Thus, a PR campaign aims to create a positive perception in the mind of its TG, so even if the campaign is over, the positive perception or the goodwill of the organisation still remains intact.

So, at the end – measure Marketing by “profits” and PR by “perception”. It’s the channels of communication that make all the difference.  These two management functions differ in their channels of communication. Marketing is more generalised given the mass amount of customers that are usually targeted e.g. TV ads, Internet Ads, Billboards etc. A PR campaign is more personal. PR makes use of channels like media relations, surveys, events for relationship building, etc. Ultimately it is focused on fostering relationships.

While it is important for an organisation to be able to differentiate between these two functions, it is also important to realise that these functions are extremely reliant on each other and complement the success of a business.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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