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Successful Company Communications
It's all about delivering value.
 More of this Feature
 Part 2: Wasted PR Efforts 
 Part 3: Finding Your Legs
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 The Weakest PR Link
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 Marken Communications

by G.A. "Andy" Marken
Marken Communications

Andy MarkenOver the years, hundreds of highly respected professionals and educators have developed comprehensive and often complicated descriptions of what makes for effective corporate communications. There have been heated discussions regarding the separation of public relations from advertising, public relations from marketing, and the very role public relations should play within the organization.

What has been most counter-productive is the PR division's desire to distance itself from the distasteful task of actually "selling" the company, its propositions, its products, its technologies and its services. If PR doesn't help perpetuate the company, just what value does it serve?

I recently read one of the clearest, most concise and understandable definitions of public relations. It stripped away all of the rhetoric and all of the lofty philosophy: "Effective public relations is simply applied common sense."

Common sense says that a company must achieve sales and must produce profit if it is to survive. Done properly, public relations adds value to a company by helping it better employ people, provide a return to shareholders, and deliver product/service value to customers.

Common sense says that for company programs to be successful they must be founded on business objectives, not "PR" objectives. They must focus on the company's brand equity, not on individual products. This branding activity must extend beyond media relations, charitable giving, legislative relations and other niches. 

Accomplishing all of this is no easy task.  It means that the firm's public relations activities -- internal and external -- have to understand and be involved in building and promoting the company's brand franchise. Some people like to refer to this process as integrated marketing communications (IMC). I prefer not to apply some self-limiting label, but rather to think of it as doing what is necessary to ensure the company survives and prospers. 

It requires the company to have a public relations team that is involved in building trust with all of the firm's buyers and sellers. Public relations professionals can't simply go to senior management, plead their case and get a mandate to be responsible for representing the company's total activities. That just won't happen. 

They need to start slow and take small steps. Public relations is a service and support function, not a policy direction activity. PR people need to advise and assist in branding activities online and offline. They need to become involved in assisting purchasing, HR, sales activities, face-to-face encounter training, trade show activities, Web activities including customer service/customer support, and other efforts that involve the company's brand franchise and the organization's bottom line results.

  Next page > Wasted PR Efforts > Page 1, 2, 3

Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy Marken was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies.  Marken Communications is a full-service agency that concentrates on business-to-business market planning, positioning, development, and communications. For more information, visit or write

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