Friday, December 14, 2007

Marketing, advertising, public relations. What's the difference Part I

There is still a lot of confusion among non-marketers and some "marketers" alike about what the difference is between marketing, advertising and public relations. It is the marketer's own fault because we assume everyone knows. Even as I set out to write this post, I am wondering if it is useful. This is most definitely not a post for marketing professionals. But it may be helpful for their non-marketing colleagues.

Of special concern is the fact that marketing and advertising are used as synonyms, interchangeably. By doing so clients and their providers omit to consider some important aspects that influence buyer behavior and hence their bottom line.

Next the first of a three part series which overview in what I think may be the order in which an established company that is seeking to increase its marketing performance may arrive at each stage.

Public Relations

Public Relations is "building good relationships with the company's various publics by obtaining favorable publicity, building up a good corporate image and handling or heading off unfavorable rumors, stories and events" (Armstrong,Kotler).

There was a time when "public relations" was the only tool companies used to connect with their clients. Think of issues such as cutting ribbons and making donations, followed by press releases. This, primarily because competition was much less than it is today. Just appearing in the paper was enough for people to consider your product. In addition, often every company in the category provided almost the same good (a commodity). Banks are a good example. Prior to the US deregulation of banks in the mid 1980's, all banks had the same product, same interest, same branches, etc. They were only promoting their "corporate image", but not specific products. In addition, this "image" was just "a picture". It was not a "picture-with-a-meaning", which is what a "brand" is.

The public relations functions has changed through the years. In good hands, it is now being used more explicitly and more effectively to gain customers. This year Cura-Peska held workshops and appeared on talk shows to provide information about fishing in Curacao. While these activities can be classified as "public relations", they were most definitely meant to attract customers.

Read the next post for Advertising.

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