Public Relations as Strategy

Study Preview The term public relations carries somewhat of a stigma, but alternate names all have inadequacies at capturing the nature of the work. Titles like strategic communication and integrated marketing blur public relations with advertising and miss the dialogic nature of good public relations.

Learning Objectives By the end of this module you will be able to:

  1. 8.4.1 Explain the reasons for public relations buzzwords
  2. 8.4.2 Characterize the corporate trend of integrated marketing

8.4.1 Strategic Communication 1. Objective: Explain the reasons for public relations buzzwords

As a field, public relations has evolved through a range of professional evolutions and reinventions. The reinventions have attempted to separate public relations from many of the dubious practices that have tarnished the profession’s image. Most people have heard the term “PR” used skeptically and derisively: “That’s just PR” to reflect a perception that public relations exists to manipulate the public. To remake the field’s troubled image, the public relations industry has passed through countless alternative names. These have included public information and public affairs. More focused names have come and gone as well, such as corporation communication, institutional communication, and political communication. In the end, the traditional term “public relations” has survived because, unlike the alternatives, it captures the multiplicity of relations among publics and the overall complexity of the field.

A current buzzword used in the PR field is strategic communication, which usually is

defined as using campaigns and messages to advance long-term organizational goals, usually through mass media. Whether strategic communication will have staying power remains to be seen. One shortcoming of the term is that it fails to signal the two-way dialogic goal of traditional public relations. The term “strategic communication” lacks the necessary descriptiveness because it is also applied to advertising, which, unlike public relations, involves mostly one-way communication.

8.4.2 Integrated Marketing 1. Objective: Characterize the corporate trend of integrated marketing

For many persuasive campaigns, organizations use both public relations and advertising. As such, public relations and advertising people find themselves increasingly working together. This is especially true in corporations that have adopted integrated marketing communication, which attempts to coordinate advertising as a marketing tool with promotion and publicity of the sort that public relations experts can provide. Several major advertising agencies, aware of their clients’ shift to integrated marketing, have acquired or established public relations subsidiaries to provide a wider range of services under their roof.

It is this overlap that has prompted some advertising agencies to move more into public relations. The WWP Group of London, a global advertising agency, has acquired the Young & Rubicam advertising agency along with its three public relations subsidiaries: Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolf, and Creswell, Munsell, Fultz & Zirbel. These are giant enterprises that reflect the conglomeration and globalization of both advertising and public relations.

Writing Prompt Apply Your Media Literacy – Public Relations as Strategy

How should public relations people address stigmas attached to the term “public relations”?

The response entered here will appear in the performance dashboard and can be viewed by your instructor.

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