Marketing Public Relations (MPR)
The Institute of Public Relations defines Public Relations as “… the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics”. The words deliberate, planned and sustained are crucial here, as companies cannot hope to “do a bit of PR” in isolated bursts and hope for the type of results which come from a more concerted effort. Because public relations is involved with more than just customer relationships, it is often handled at a corporate level rather than at the functional level of marketing management and it can be difficult to integrate public relations fully into the overall promotional plan.
Prof. Kibera defines Public Relations as “a firm’s communications and relationship with its various publics, who include the organisation’s customers, employees, stockholders, the government the general public, and the society in which the firm operates”. Public Relations activities are designed to build or maintain a favourable image for an organisation and favourable relationship with its various publics
Can be defined as a non-paid for communication of information about an organisation, product/service, idea, person, etc; generally in some form of media.
The publics of marketing public relations
MPR is aimed at numerous groups, in addition to customers:
➢ Employees: It may be important to communicate with employees on such issues as job security, working conditions and the state of the market. ➢ Customers: These may be all those people who consume the organisations’ products or use the organisations services. ➢ Suppliers: these may need assurances that a company is a credible one to deal with and that contractual obligations will be met. ➢ Intermediaries: these may share many of the same concerns as customers and need reassurance about a supplier’s capabilities.
➢ Government agencies: in many cases, actions of government can significantly affect the fortunes of an organisation ➢ The financial Community: Shareholders – both private and institutional – form an important element of this community and must be reassured that the organisation is going to achieve its stated objectives. ➢ Local Communities: it is sometimes important for an organisation to be seen as a “good neighbour” ➢ Other Publics: prospective investors, stockholders, labour unions,
The characteristics of Marketing Public Relations
Marketing Public Relations is an indirect promotional tool whose role is to establish and enhance a positive image of an organisation and its products among its various publics. Some of the more important characteristics of Public Relations are: 1. MPR is effective in building awareness and brand knowledge, for both new and established products. 2. MPR is generally a relatively low cost form of communication: The Company does not pay for the space or time obtained in the media. Apart from nominal production costs, much public relations activity can be carried out at almost no cost, in marked contrast to the high cost of buying space or time in the main media.
It pays only for a staff to prepare / develop and circulate the stories and manage certain events. Body Shop for example has spent very little money on advertising; its success has been almost entirely due to publicity. 3. It has more credibility than advertising: MPR carries more credibility than advertising; consumers are five times more likely to be influenced by editorial copy than by advertising. This can occur because the audience may regard a message as coming from an apparently impartial and non- commercial source. 4. MPR efforts can be targeted: public relations activities can be targeted to a small specialised audience if the right media vehicle is used. 5. It is difficult to control: a company can exercise little direct control over how its public relations activity is subsequently handled and interpreted. 6. MPR efforts (like all media) may become saturated
The Role of Marketing Public relations
➢ Assist in the launch of new product
➢ Assist in repositioning of a mature product
➢ Building interest in product category
➢ Influencing specific target groups
➢ Defending products that have encountered public problems
➢ Building the corporate image in a way that reflects favourably on its products
➢ To maintain a certain level of visibility with the public
In considering when and how to use MPR management must:-
a) Establish marketing objectives
b) Choose the MPR message and vehicles
c) Implement the plan carefully
d) Evaluate the results
MPR can contribute the following in establishing the Marketing Objectives ➢ Build awareness – MPR can place stories in the media to bring attention to a product, service, person organisations or idea. ➢ Build Credibility – MPR can add credibility by communication the message in an editorial context ➢ Stimulate the sales force and dealers – MPR can help boost sales force and dealer enthusiasm. Stories about a new product before it is launched will help the sales force sell to its retailers. ➢ Hold down promotion costs – MPR costs less than direct mail and media advertising. The smaller the company’s promotion budget, the stronger the case for using PR to gain share of mind ➢ Provide more information, especially about technical features of a product/service which cannot be accommodated in an advert.
Major Tools in MPR
A wide range of tools is available to the MPR manager, and the suitability of each tool is dependent upon the promotional objectives at which they are directed. i. Publications: companies rely extensively on published materials to reach and influence their target markets. These include annual reports, brochures, articles company newsletters and magazines and audiovisual materials. ii. In House Journals: By adopting a news based magazine format, the message becomes more credible than if it was presented as a pure advertisement. iii. Events: Draw attention to new products or other company activities by arranging special events like news conferences, seminars, outings, contents and competitions, anniversaries and sports and cultural sponsorships that will reach the target publics. iv. Exhibitions and Shows: – most companies attend exhibitions not with the intention of making an immediate sale, but to create an awareness of their organisation.
v. News: Find and create favourable news about the company, its products and its people. Marketing and interpersonal skill is required here. vi. Press Releases: a press release can be defined as a communication which seeks to secure editorial space in the media, as distinct from paid-for advertising space. vii. Speeches: a tool for creating product and company publicity. Company executives must field questions from the media or give talks at trade associations or sales meetings thus building company image. viii. Public service Activities: Sponsorship – there is argument about whether this strictly forms part of the public relations portfolio of tools.
It is however being increasingly used as an element of the promotion mix. This builds goodwill by contributing money and time to good causes. ix. Lobbying: professional lobbyists are often employed by a company in an effort to inform and hence influence those key decision makers who may be critical to its success. x. Identity Media: Companies compete for attention. They need a visual identity that the public immediately recognises, such as logos, stationery, business forms, uniforms and dress codes. xi. Education and Training: in an effort to develop a better understanding – and hence liking – of an organisation and its products, many organisations aim education and training programmes at important target groups.
How MPR and Direct marketing can work together to achieve specific marketing objectives ➢ Build marketplace excitement before media advertising breaks: The function of PR is to promote public understanding and acceptance of a company, its products and services within the external environment. The purpose is to ensure that the ‘image or impression which the public carry of the company is favorable one, so that ultimately there will be greater sales of the products of the company’. The announcement of a new product or service offers a unique opportunity for obtaining publicity. ➢ Build a one-to-one relationship with consumers: It can be argued that a company/business normally exists by public consent, and its continued existence must be justified in terms of its contribution as viewed by the society as a whole and by those people or groups of particular relevance or influenced within specific external environments (stake holders).
Both of these categories make demands on the organizations based upon their expectations. Both categories constitute opportunities and constraint, which may be. may be economical, legal, social, ethical or political. ➢ Influence the influential: Influencers are most often authority figures in the society. A company’s good image will, in part, be fostered by the process of ‘perceptual re-organisation’, by which inputs to the public’s perceptual process are Re-ordered or presented in a fashion most favourable to the organisation. ➢ Build a core consumer base: Effective public relations can also be used in promotion of products, the purpose being to back up advertising and to ensure that customers are more favourable disposed towards the products of the company which are being advertised. ➢ Turn satisfied customers into advocates: It is important to increase the morale inside and outside the company. If employees are proud of the organisation, its achievements and service to the community, this will be reflected in their daily work. ➢ Build confidence of the sales force: Public relations can help sales people to be more confident in their approach to selling.
➢ Loss control by the organisation over the message e.g. the org. have no control as to when and how the message comes out as this is sometimes subjected to editing and depend on other news worthy happenings ➢ Limited exposure as compared to advertising
Managing negative publicity
Managing negative publicity truthfully helps organisation to maintain credibility e.g. when RED BULL was feared to have caused some deaths in Sweden, they encouraged gvt authorities to carry out test after which the drink was certified to be healthy.
Many people have traditionally argued that the results of Public Relations could not be measured. Furthermore, this did not really matter because PR was relatively inexpensive anyway and it was clearly a good thing to be doing. Such an attitude is now much less acceptable and there is growing demand for tools to measure and evaluate MPR properly. ➢ Media content analysis and press cuttings are the most commonly used evaluation technique but a range of confusing alternatives have appeared, including “Advertising Value Equivalents” and “Opportunities to See”, all providing benchmarks by which the results of MPR activities can be assessed.
➢ Change in Product awareness, comprehension or attitude resulting from an MPR campaign. i.e. ‘how many people recall hearing the news item? How many told others about it? How many changed their minds after hearing it/ etc ➢ Sales and Profit impact: this is the most satisfactory measure, if obtainable. This is done by calculating return on MPR investment. ➢ There is a problem in trying to measure the effectiveness of public relations as its results my not be too evident or capable of being measurement.
The commercial consequence of positive public image will benefit employees as well as the investors alike, and encourage the development of goodwill within the company’s immediate locality. It is worth noting that no amount of PR can make up for inept and inadequate performance. Outstanding trading performance and customer loyalty are the keystones for development of a positive external image.