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A Recipe for Marketing Success
Why public relations is an integral ingredient


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by Peter Granat
Senior Vice President, MediaMap

Peter GranatExecuting a
successful integrated marketing program, 
one that consistently generates qualified leads that the sales force can convert to closed deals, is like planning a successful dinner.  It takes all of the right ingredients, mixed together at just the right time and in just the right proportions, to create a delicious feast that your guests will not only enjoy, but also remember - and want to come back for when next invited.

It's the same way with marketing. Except in the case of finding new customers and maintaining their loyalty, the ingredients don't include things like caviar, prime rib, and a good bottle of wine.  Instead, they include a number of separate program elements, mixed and matched to create a comprehensive marketing plan that results in the visibility required to contribute to overall growth. 

These program elements sometimes include advertising, direct mail, educational seminars, trade show participation, and special events.  It sometimes includes public relations, but not always. This is a big mistake.  Neglecting to make PR a significant part of the integrated marketing mix is akin to forgetting to send out invitations for your dinner event.  In a nutshell, planning marketing campaigns without building overall awareness for your organization through public relations could result in total campaign failure.

Public relations can add tremendous value to a company's overall marketing plan by creating the visibility and validity that's necessary to fuel all other marketing activities.  A prospect will be more likely to open a direct mail piece, attend a special event, listen to a sales pitch, or actually buy a product if they just read about the company in the Wall Street Journal, saw its CEO speak on CNN, noticed the company winning awards and praise from a trade publication, or read an article authored by the company (just like this one, which was placed using PR).

In order to build a successful public relations program, the first step is making a commitment.  Recognize that there will likely be some short-term wins, but also realize that if company sticks with PR over the long haul, the benefits will be lasting and measurable.  And being committed doesn't just mean earmarking funds.  It also means partnering with PR executives, whether an in-house team or from an agency, so that they are well informed of all corporate initiatives and have the tools they need to succeed.

With the right information in hand, a well-informed and astute PR practitioner will design a plan that can meet any number of corporate goals, while at the same time integrating into the overall marketing plan.  These goals can include things like helping a company increase the number of leads generated on a day-to-day basis; increasing the value of these leads, so that the sales cycle shrinks and the average sales price grows; and building corporate credibility, so shareholders and potential shareholders believe in the company's leadership and mission.

The Essentials

A PR program will vary depending on a company's goals, but there are a few essential elements you should consider.  They include:

A steady news stream -- A company must always be looking for opportunities to release "news" to the press.  This could include new or enhanced products or services, new customer wins, or partnership announcements.  By putting out a minimum of one or two announcements a month, and by working closely with the media to ensure the news is covered, a company can rest assured that it will be consistently visible in industry trade publications, local and regional publications, and, as the company's stories become more compelling, in the business press.  The constant press coverage will create the perception that the company is one to watch.

Executive visibility and thought leadership -- It's critical to position companies and its executives as visionaries; PR is one of the most effective ways to achieve this objective.  Winning industry awards that recognize a company's growth as well as its products and services, writing thought-provoking articles for targeted publications, speaking independently or on panels at industry events, all are ways to demonstrate the company's leadership position.  A good PR plan will identify the awards, publications and industry events to target.  It will also have a plan in place to secure those opportunities and leverage the results.  They all tie into one another to gain maximum exposure and benefit.

Media and analyst relations -- Staying in front of targeted industry analysts and reporters is key, and goes beyond the kind of coverage a company can get by consistently issuing news.   It's also essential to track the planned reports and articles that reporters and analysts are constantly writing, and to secure inclusion in those pieces.  To be successful, a PR practitioner must identify the opportunities; interact and build relationships with reporters and analysts to determine their needs, and then provide the necessary follow-up to secure results.  Failure could put a company at a disadvantage, especially if their competitors are successful.

A Seamless Integration

Successfully executing on the plan is the final, crucial step.  And as with the successful dinner, it takes the right tools to achieve optimal results. In this case, the required tool is a Communications Management (CM) solution.  A CM solution allows communications professionals to manage relationships and activities with press and analysts, distribute targeted messages to these groups, and measure and analyze the results of those activities. It will also provide real-time media research and a central location for PR and marketing professionals to collaborate. 

Organizations that have a strong public relations program in place to support overall marketing initiatives, and who use a CM solution to guide their efforts, are in prime position to build the awareness they need to grow their business. Indeed, a successful PR program isn't just a side dish. It's an essential ingredient that completes the recipe for marketing success.

As MediaMap's Senior Vice President, Peter Granat speaks to corporate communications officers and leading agency executives across the 
nation, helping to improve clients' relationships with the media. 
Since joining MediaMap in 1992, Peter has pioneered media research 
and communications management tools.

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