PR Is Marketing Now, Says ANA
There was a time not so long ago when marketers didn’t need to master skills like crisis communications and public relations. Enter the reality of real-time marketing, brand journalism and customer-centricity. Now, says the Association of National Advertisers, marketing is so linked to PR, they’re becoming the same professions.
“Walls are breaking down between marketing and public relations. That is due to the digital transformation and rise of social media,” says the report ANA announced on Tuesday. “Public relations is becoming less of a specialty as it becomes more closely aligned with marketing. The next generation of talent entering the job market interested in public relations needs a broader skill set to recognize that marketing and public relations are increasingly commingling. As the ANA has seen elsewhere, marketers place a huge emphasis on accountability and ROI. Public relations is no exception, and practitioners must be cognizant of the need for programs to be measurable.”
The marketing association’s report measured where PR needs to go to do this. In “The Evolution of Public Relations,” research conducted by the ANA in partnership with the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, “72 percent of respondents answered that public relations will either become more closely aligned with marketing or become a subset of it.”
In addition to the ANA’s report, USC released the “Global Communications Report 2017” (Opens as a PDF) with the first chapter titled “Will PR and Marketing Mix?” The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Marketers Need to Know PR
From United’s PR disaster to @Wendys constant social media marketing wins, it’s clear the PR and marketing functions need to blend. Crisis communications is absolutely a part of the marketing arsenal, as Target Marketing’s been reporting for years.
Some brands do it well and in real time, as is generally the case for @Wendys.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) May 9, 2017
Customer-centricity means marketers need to be listening to customers and creating programs that solve their problems, rather than promote products and services to them.
That’s often where storytelling comes in, which is PR’s wheelhouse. Branded journalism, native advertising and content marketing can respond to all of these needs in real time, with relevant communications that respond to, if not avert, a crisis.
PR Pros Need to Know Marketing
The ANA report says: “Digital trends are most important to the future of public relations, according to ANA members. The specific top-rated trends are:
- Social listening
- Digital storytelling
- Real-time marketing
“It is important to note,” reads the ANA report, “that these top three trends are interlinked: ‘I heard something’ (social listening); ‘I need to tell a story about it’ (digital storytelling); and ‘I need to do it fast’ (real-time marketing).”
This sounds a bit like what marketers need to know, which Target Marketing believes shows that this isn’t a one-sided blend.
The USC report further states: “Currently, 18 percent of corporate communications departments report into marketing. If that number grows, will their influence decrease? Currently, PR agencies report into marketing 21 percent of the time. If that number grows, will their bottom lines increase? Recently, two major holding companies ‘bundled’ their PR agencies with their advertising agencies to provide clients with a more integrated solution. Internally, some companies are restructuring their marketing functions to include public relations. Will these changes expand or diminish the role of the PR professional?”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.