As digital PR becomes more defined, the growing link between its practices and those of marketing becomes more pronounced. In the past, PR and marketing have been separated by a chasm of responsibility, with both sides believing that the division of labor was more important than any possible collaboration. The fast-paced digital world had changed this mindset by requiring PR and marketing professionals to revisit old lessons and work together. Below are three foundational concepts that are true in both worlds and serve as a testament to the blending of the two industries.
Knowing the brand
Gone are the days of getting a “product to pitch” in PR and successfully finding the most influential site or person to endorse it. Through prevalent use of blogs and other sites, it must be understood that the value of the brand should be communicated in a way that clearly solves the problem of the customer. This can happen only if the digital PR professional understands the brand’s “why.”
Kleenex solved the problem of runny noses after they saw nothing in the market that would clean the skin without making it raw. Apple solves the problem of low-quality computers by providing an optimal computing experience, both with hardware and software. Knowing why a brand exists is just as important (if not more so) than knowing what the brand creates. In the why, the marketer and PR professional can see beyond simply the product and understand the grand truth of the brand objective; it’s not about sales, it’s about service.
Doing the research
Research (surveys, competitive analysis, audience mosaics, etc.) lays the groundwork for any marketing campaign that seeks to translate the brand to the customer. The ever-changing digital landscape necessitates that similar research be done by the PR professional to understand where to place these “translations,” whether a paid advertisement, sponsored post, or organic piece of content.
Knowing the customer means knowing the need. This, in turn requires both the marketer and PR pro to know the brand.
Using the brand as the answer
Understanding the brand has always been a cornerstone for the marketer. While this may seem obvious to the casual observer, marketers understand that the attributes of a brand go far beyond that of simple application. As mentioned before, the brand must serve as a solution to the customer’s problem. Finding and defining that concept is imperative and can be accomplished through a range of techniques, from audience analysis to deeper studies of consumer behavior. All this groundwork leads to finding the right customer and presenting the brand as a solution within a piece of content.
It is the same with digital PR. With 61% of consumers making purchases as a result of blog posts, and 90% of consumers finding customer content useful (according to Ignite Spot), the job of the digital PR professional is to place the relevant content in front of the right customer, showing the brand as the solution to an existing problem.
While there are many other similarities between marketing and digital PR, these stand as absolutes in brand communication. As the methods of digital PR become more well-defined, there will be more links between the two worlds and a greater emphasis on collaboration. By knowing the brand and using customer research to offer the brand as a solution, both PR and marketing change the process from that of a sale, where ads are pushed on the customer ad nauseum, to a service, where a solution to an existing problem is inherently accepted and sales increase as a result. As both industries understand this, the divide between them will shrink.