The biggest disconnect between PR and marketing in many companies comes down to breakdowns in organization and communication. The larger a brand is, the more likely it becomes for their various teams to drift away from each other and end up in a situation where they do not know what others are doing, or what their specific goals are. Frequently, these goals and tactics are not far off from each other, but not working on them together can actually make them work against each other, or at least, be inefficient in the ground they cover.
By ensuring that there is solid communication and collaboration between your marketing and PR departments, you are are going make each department substantially more effective, and save yourself some headaches along the way.
Improving Both PR and Marketing Departments
Whether your PR team is pushing an initiative to increase your brand’s name recognition, manage a potential PR issue, or highlight a positive event for your company, your marketing team should be aware of it. This will be beneficial in numerous ways.
- Firstly, they will be able to shape their marketing strategies to help facilitate and better your efforts by pushing your PR message through marketing channels (especially in the form of great content). If your company has done something worth highlighting from a PR perspective, then there is a good chance that it would also work incredibly well as a tool to market your brand. People react strongly in a positive way to companies that they perceive to be altruistic in some way, and using marketing channels to spread this perception means that a greater number of people are likely to be exposed to it.
- Secondly, using your marketing team’s knowledge and expertise is a fantastic way to improve how your PR team refines and spreads its message. Things like press releases are excellent for informing media outlets of PR messages, but their reach is limited, and at times they are sent out so quickly that there are things that could have been done to improve them if they had been looked at through a marketing perspective first. For instance, many press releases sent out by companies lack things like links back to places on your website where people can find more information.
If you look at these PR efforts as if they were pieces of marketing content, then these small mistakes would be incredibly obvious, and you would be doing the marketing team and your company as a whole a great
Do it From the Start
Your integration of these departments should not stop just with having them inform each other of their plans and then adjusting as they go, however. This is sure to happen at some level along the way, and your organization should always be flexible enough to roll with situations as they arise, but you need to start sooner than this. For the marriage between marketing and PR to be most effective, you need to bring them together from the start.
This is echoed by Larry Parnell, Professor and Program Director of The George Washington Unversity’s Strategic Public Relations Program, in a webinar about keys to successful PR.
“Now if you look at how to get our message out, as I mentioned before, traditional PR materials, news releases, press events, et cetera, we’ve got to go beyond that. Those are all important. Those are all part of the toolbox. But new content on new platforms is becoming what is expected, because others are doing it if nothing else. And we need to be responsible and effective in that regard.”
Staying on top of marketing across new platforms is only going to become more important as technology drives consumers further and further away from traditional platforms. Now, with innovations like virtual reality becoming part of the marketing world, it is essential for PR and marketing teams to work together to understand their target audience and use every available platform to spread their messages effectively.
No longer can those two endeavors be looked at as separate, and the longer your company waits to bridge the gap between them, the more you will be left behind.
Creating Communication and Collaboration
The first step to creating cohesion between your PR and marketing departments is to ensure that they have some form of regular communication. This may seem simple or obvious, but it’s incredibly important and is something that many companies seem to take for granted. If possible, the best way to start this is by having in-person meetings with the purpose of getting these two departments on the same page. Who is included in these meetings may depend on the size of your company and these departments, but at the very least, these should include any managers or key decision-makers.
These meetings should be collaborative experiences, with your teams discussing what they are currently working on, as well as future goals and plans, with an emphasis on trying to find ways for both departments to assist each other in accomplishing what they hope to. It’s important that both sides come to the table with an open mindset towards the other’s ideas, and are willing to work together to find new and creative methods that help both sides. A great way to foster this collaboration is by having occasional informal brainstorming sessions in small groups comprised of people from each team working on similar projects. If getting your teams in the same room is difficult, then you should look into the many online collaboration tools available, and find one that works for your team.
Once these teams are on the same page, it’s important to retain communication between them. This is especially true of any work that they are doing toward the same goal or cross-team collaboration. If your marketing team is creating content with the purpose of highlighting or spreading information about one of your PR team’s campaigns, then members of your PR team should be working closely with your marketing team to ensure that the message stays consistent across each department, regardless of the channel that the message through which the message is being conveyed.
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