Traditionally, the functions of marketing and PR were siloed. Marketing teams narrowed their scope to generating sales, and the PR agency focused on developing media presence and stakeholder relationships. But with the advent of new technology and shifts in business culture, public relations has evolved to encompass much more than media to include other forms of external communications.
Social media serves as an example of how public relations now plays a greater role in broader PR and integrated marketing strategy efforts. The broad range of functions that social media plays in a communications strategy means it straddles the line between marketing and PR, serving as an advertising and content platform, community engagement platform and a reputation management tool. It forces businesses to reexamine their organizational structure, to eliminate silos and to maximize the skillsets of marketing and PR professionals.
Integrated marketing and PR strategy
PR agencies are adapting to an increasingly fast-paced news media. Reporters use social media to skim the surface and looking for a quick bite. That means it’s increasingly important for marketing teams and PR agency to be integrated in their work together. By working in conjunction with, rather than separately from marketing teams, PR professionals can craft more effective messaging, knowing which types of material resonates best with key audiences. Bolstered by this language strategy, CMOs and sales teams will have better stories to convey to clients and prospects.
Returning to the example of social media, we see how these skillsets combine. Over the past few years social media evolved into a forum that more people rely on for news, but that poses an increasing reputational risk to organizations. Much of the content for a company’s own social media page should rely heavily on the same principles as the news media. Namely, effective social strategy should prioritize timely content, with an impact on its viewers and analyze any potential conflict (i.e. are there two sides to this story?).
This sort of cost-benefit analysis falls neatly into the PR agency’s wheelhouse. Social strategy also has to align with advertising and customer service efforts, which generally falls under the expertise of the marketing team. In working together, PR agencies develop better insight for their own unique goals, while maximizing the united goals they share in a company.
One such goal of a PR and integrated marketing strategy is increasing search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to a company’s website and owned media. Earned media garnered by the PR agency is often the vehicle that helps people get there. Further, the bidirectional relationship between earned media and SEO means that strong organic search rankings fortify efforts to generate earned media opportunities. With a strategic effort from marketing team and PR agency, organizations can optimize their content with effective keywords, land high-profile earned media, and ultimately achieve optimal branding and business results for the company
What does an effective public relations and marketing partnership look like?
Organizations need to use business intelligence principles to ensure teams are interconnected, rather than siloed. In the wake of the pandemic, the business landscape has shifted to largely operate remotely, increasing the need for effective, constructive communication. Teams should be flexible, adaptable, and fully integrated. This allows for optimal communication and efficiency.
Marketing teams and the PR agency can set key performance indicators to ensure they’re staying on track with their individual and joint goals. The division of responsibilities can evolve as technology continues to generate more opportunities for businesses to communicate. And ultimately maybe a new, hybrid role will emerge for integrated marketing and PR professionals.