For many years, the question of where public relations (PR) fits into the range of business activities in general, and its relationship to marketing in particular, has exercised the minds, of practitioners and academics alike.
There are situations where some people suggest that PR is part and parcel of marketing, but others also feel it is the other way round — that marketing is rather a part of PR.
Pickton and Broderick assume that for PR practitioners, it may just be a matter of professional pride.
According to them, “some PR practitioners do not wish to be too closely associated with marketing, seeing it solely as profit-focused, when much PR activity has long-term implications and fewer financial imperatives”.
They argue that PR is fundamentally about establishing, maintaining and sustaining goodwill, understanding and mutual relationship, and that this should be detached from sales functions and profit maximisation.
Concept of PR
Cutlip, Center and Brown explain that the evolution of the concept of PR and the numerous descriptions of its practice lead many to the following definition:—“PR is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.”
It will, therefore, be explained that this conceptual definition unifies the broad range of activities and goals identified with the practice.
It also identifies building and maintaining the mutually beneficial relationships essential to modern society as the moral and ethical basis for the profession.
At the same time, it suggests criteria for determining what is and what is not part of the function.
On the other side of the coin (that is marketing), Kotler suggests that marketing is about human activity, directed at satisfying needs and wants through exchange processes.
The starting point for the discipline of marketing lies in human needs and wants. Mankind needs food, air, water, clothing and shelter to survive.
Beyond this, people have strong desires for recreation, education, and other services. The existence of human needs and wants gives rise to the concept of products.
A product is something that is viewed as capable of satisfying a want.
From the aforementioned account, one can see something of the breadth of Kotler's view of marketing and product as they are grounded in the psychological concepts of human needs and wants.
The function of marketing, then, is to deliver “satisfaction”, a psychological state that offsets “felt deprivation” and “discomfort”, not necessarily an activity that works for monetary gain (e.g. interests or a good return on investments) nor even more broadly, a form of economic consumption in the exchange process.
Such human needs and wants take one well beyond economic exchange, whether expressed in monetary terms or not; they also have infinite extension.
In following this logic, Kotler had no difficulty in extending marketing thinking and methods to all sectors of human activity.
For instance, voters have wants (e.g. that the government maintains law and order) and needs (e.g. personal security); therefore, politicians, government officials, police officers, and the like are all engaged in marketing activities as they try to satisfy such needs and wants.
By the same extension, religious leaders (e.g. ministers, priests, Imams, etc.) really are engaged in marketing when they build places of worship, give homilies or sermons, and provide religious advice and consultation, because all these activities are designed to satisfy needs and wants.
After explaining PR and marketing concepts as stated above, it will also be important for us to look at them holistically.
PR covers a broad range of relationships and goals with many publics — employees, investors, neighbours, special-interest groups, governments, among others. Effective PR contributes to the marketing effort by maintaining a hospitable social and political environment.
Likewise, successful marketing and satisfied customers make good relations with others easier to build and maintain.
Marketing, as it were, focuses on exchange relationships with customers that lead to quid pro quo transactions, meeting customer demands and achieving organisational economic objectives.
According to Friend, working in support of marketing, PR has a primary function to promote. It also has to protect and project.
This requires PR thinking across the full spectrum of an organisation's operations, or a series of irreconcilable differences and conflicts will invariably arise.
What we, therefore, need to appreciate is the fact that PR and marketing are both essential functions for a modern organisation.
Marketing managers identify markets for the products and services of the organisation and then supervise marketing communication programmes to create and sustain demand for the products and services.
PR managers, in contrast, supervise programmes for communication with publics — groups of people who organise themselves when an organisation affects them or they affect it.
PR and marketing serve different functions, and PR cannot be excellent if it is subjugated to the marketing function.
When an organisation makes PR a marketing function, practitioners are reduced to the technician role, and the organisation loses a valuable mechanism for managing its interdependence with its strategic publics.
To achieve organisational goals, every organisation must attend to their PR and marketing functions according to their genuine definitions.
This is because each and every one of them contributes its quota by building and maintaining the different relationships essential for the organisation's survival and growth.
Article by Bala Sa-ad