There was a time in the not so distant past when Public Relations (PR) operated separately from marcomms, short for marketing communications.
Although the main aim for PR is to drive a positive reputation for an organization, the focus for marcomms was to ramp up revenue. The two could function independently of each other, but today things have changed.

PR is increasingly being tagged to value addition as far as generating revenues for businesses is concerned. Current trends in Uganda and around the world, indicate that many organisations have gone as far as drastically cutting their marketing budgets as a basis for the sustainability of the business.
Naturally, not good for us, but understandable and means the PR industry has to step up another level. Basically, this means when you have a PR strategy or idea, it’s got to translate into added sales or make more money for the business.

At first this may sound absurd for many PR practitioners especially in certain circumstances. However, when one appreciates what is at stake; the dynamics of business today, you are forced to incorporate the translation of a positive image into sales or revenue which probably agrees with the statement that “when PR is done well, advertising is more successful.”

So how can PR be relevant not only to building a positive image for the organization but also play a role in revenues or sales?
I cannot count how many times I have encountered this question in boardrooms in relation to the plans and strategies that have been designed and consequently this marriage between public relations and marketing communications. Since we are both leaning together towards a shared goal of making sales or increasing revenue for businesses among other factors, it means interactions have got to be more intense.

We have got to attend briefs/meetings together from the very start for the concepts to be understood by both parties. This makes it easy for PR to understand marketing and ably exploit their strategies for visibility. It also means sharing both marketing and PR plans to achieve a satisfactory outcome. And if need be the best outcome could be to combine both plans and have a comprehensive campaign.

It also entails designing messages or communications content together. I have learnt that whatever messaging goes out between marketing and PR, there has to be consistency. The only difference is marketing seeks to be brief and captivating while PR dissects the message and creates understanding among the audience. So as PR may contribute to establishing brand identity in a practical and cost efficient manner, it compliments marketing that in most cases spends to reach their audiences. The two will work best by bouncing ideas off each other to come out with the most effective strategy.

About the Author: Sharon Kakai

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