I’ll take my own umbrella.

12 02 2010

To preface this blog post, I must admit that I am a former marketing student who turned on the dark side (I only joke) and became a journalism and integrated communications major.

The other night I had an interesting discussion, some could call it a debate, with a good friend of mine who is a marketing student at Butler

As I was discussing a few PR matters with a fellow classmate, the marketing student across the room exclaimed “It doesn’t even matter, marketing CONTROLS the PR.  WE tell YOU what to do.”

With a simple “Oh, really?” muttered on my end, the debate ensued.

The point that she made was that PR fell under the magical Marketing Umbrella and that it was the 4th P, promotion.  With a few more text-book definitions rattled off, it was time for my rebuttal.

While I agree that the public relations and marketing departments in most companies work very closely, it is hard for me to believe that the marketers are in complete control of what the PR people are doing.

The next point I made was that she clearly misunderstood the role of public relations.  Yes, media relations (not to be confused with PR as a whole) executives may seek to promote a company or organization, but the end-goal of the public relations practitioner and a marketer are completely different.

While marketing is, in large part, focused on getting a product or service to a customer after a transaction is made, the goal of PR is the mutually beneficial relationship with not only the consumer, but with all stakeholders.  Yes, these relationships may result in a sale, but the main focus is completely different.

I’ve been fortunate enough to do some community relations and public outreach with my current employer.  To say those initiatives are controlled by marketing doesn’t sit well with me.

I have had an internship where both departments work directly with each other and another where the practitioner has a direct-line to the CEO of the organization being served.  In neither case was the marketing department in complete control.

Instead, it was more of a collaborative effort.  This is where IMC comes in.

At this point we came to a stalemate.  Progress was absent, and we were right back where we started.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a knock on marketing.  This is an exploration of the relationship between the two “departments” and a notice to those who haven’t yet grasped the concept of integration.

So what do you think- does the marketing department CONTROL the PR?  What have your experiences been?  What would your response to Ms. Marketing Student be?




4 responses

15 06 2010

This is a weekly debate topic for me. And I’ve used different, fun ways to rebuke the marketing “4 Ps” argument.

– Public relations is controlled by marketing because it’s in some mnemonic device business students use to study for quizzes and exams?

– When does marketing control PR? During a product activation? OK…What about during a crisis, like what is happening with BP? What about Tylenol, Kryptonite Locks, New Coke, Enron, WorldCom, natural disasters, etc…Should those be handled by marketing?

– Marketing operates in the realm of brand. PR operates in the realm of reputation. If the current accepted communication/CRM paradigm is one-to-one, how effective is communication coming from a brand?

USC does a regular study of a representative sample of executives in businesses to determine their perception of communication within their organizations. They’ve found that, in only 5% of organizations, PR departments report to marketing.


5 08 2010

Thanks for your input. Those are great points and the very point I tried to make when making that argument. It just doesn’t make sense, at least to me, that the marketing dept. is in full control of PR.

29 06 2010

I really enjoyed that post, and props to you for your rebuttel!

PR is all about relationships, and marketing’s advertising wouldn’t get results if it wasn’t complemented by PR’s relationships with journalists resulting in articles – which readers trust and respect more then (obviously paid) advertising.

5 08 2010

Absolutely- the building of these relationships are key. Thanks for commenting!

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