Our Thinking – 10 Steps

Ten Steps to Integrating PR into Marketing Campaign

You’ve heard it before. The advertising agency has a campaign that has tested off the charts with the highest purchase-intent scores anyone has ever seen. Senior management is 100% committed, and the marketing team is excited. Now, the public relations team is brought in to “integrate.” A public relations program needs to address the concerns of jaded gatekeepers, such as media and other experts. It also needs to connect with consumers who have an increasing ability and desire to talk back. Is it enough to have a great advertising campaign? How true does a PR program have to stay to the ad campaign’s words, message, look and feel? Is the ad tag line the key message of the PR program? The answers are no, it depends and probably not.

In today’s environment, PR can exponentially add to the power of a strong advertising campaign in a cost-effective way. The opportunity is to integrate into the program with a clear understanding of the demands of public relations, by creating compelling and consistent messages that engage the target audience and the gatekeepers.

Here are some steps on how to add the most value to your marketing teams:

  • Understand the Brand
    First and foremost, understand the equity of the Brand. Become comfortable with its unique attributes and its place in the category. Identify areas the marketing team may have not explored because it requires approaching consumers in a way that paid media cannot.
  • Profit from the Marketing Campaign
    Take advantage of and maximize the often larger budgets of a marketing campaign. Go deep into the details of the spend. It’s an area that is rich with story angles, consumer interaction possibilities and – if you’re working with great partners – innovation. We turned a sampling program into a national call-to-action and uncovered insights that led to multiple Associated Press stories.
  • Identify your Audiences and Influencers
    The marketing team likely has a good sense of their target audience. But who does the target audience trust? The public relations team can play a vital role in identifying and communicating with the broad range of influencers that impact consumers. For example, teens influence tweens. Moms influence moms. Experts – tech gurus, trade journalists, dietitians, academics – influence media. PR should concentrate on giving influencers the information they need to best share your story with your audience.
  • Tell a (Business) Story
    Want to reach young mothers? Teen boys? While it seems counter-intuitive, a business story in a national publication or newswire can drive the success of a marketing initiative. It turns into a reader on the local morning news, chatter for local DJs, content for bloggers, and often inspiration for consumer reporters. No further proof is needed that money makes the world go round than benefiting from the power of business media coverage.
  • Recruit a Storyteller
    There is no single kind of great storyteller, but any PR campaign must have a strong narrator. The right personality paired with the right amount of message training will pay off.
    Figure out who will work best for your plan. He or she might be standing by at your headquarters. It’s the person who knows everything about single origin coffee, toy trends, or toilet paper that will have credibility with media and consumers. Or you might need a third-party expert or a celebrity. Sometimes it takes a High School Musical star to get kids and parents talking about bread.
  • Build Brand Ambassadors
    Make it easy for employees, business friends and consumers to support and build you. Many of them already talk about, recommend and possibly blog about your brand. Imagine the power if more did, more often. Create a community, care and nourish it and give them what they crave most – information.
  • Actively Integrate into the Online Lives of your Targets
    Don’t always ask your consumers to seek out the Brand — go to them. The explosion of social networking sites provides opportunities to communicate with target groups where they chat, learn, and play as long as it’s authentic and adds value to their experience without being heavy-handed or disruptive.
  • Make it Experiential
    The marketing team has many ways of talking to the consumer, but far fewer opportunities to talk with the consumer. Engaging consumers by providing opportunities to interact with the Brand and offering an experience can be profoundly impactful – especially when you meet them where they live, play and learn.
  • Go with What You Know
    Follow your instincts on what is interesting about the brand, not what makes a clever bumper sticker. The approach you will need to create a story that goes beyond 30 seconds is different than the language of the campaign. Find the compelling story, or integration is unlikely.
  • Be Assertive, Collaborative and Creative
    Be an advocate for your ideas. Be open to ideas that come from non-traditional sources. Partner with all of the people and organizations that have a vested interest in the Brand’s success. And remember that in times of integration, creativity will be your best friend.