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Successful Company Communications
Don't waste your PR efforts.
 More of this Feature
 Part 1: Delivering Value
 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


Too frequently PR people waste their efforts because they are so busy "practicing" public relations they forget their primary mission.  All too often the success or failure of their "practice" is weighed by the pound: how many print, audio and video clips, and how many Web site mentions/hits. Since they weigh more, too many PR people rationalize that fifty media scores that don't further the company's goals are worth more than five that support and extend the company's brand franchise.


Effective public relations is much like a three-legged stool: a) understanding the company's anchor value, b) understanding the customer value propositions, and c) understanding the marketplace positioning of the products or services. Understanding the three legs will help the company better benefit from sales, profits and other long-term returns.

Anchor Values

The company's anchor values should control and guide every strategic and tactical PR activity.  From the day it opens its doors, every firm is based on specific purposeful and fundamental values that highlight the company's strategic ambition, direction and plan for the future. 

Without a good understanding of these values, it is impossible for public relations to honestly and effectively deliver for the company.  Without a clear understanding of what the company is trying to achieve, public relations simply goes through the motions.  But by being on the same wavelength, PR and management can ensure the right basic message is always delivered, that it is delivered to and through the right channels, and that it achieves the desired impact and objective.

Customer Values

The second leg of a sound PR program is to clearly understand what the anchor values mean to the consuming public.  This means you have to translate the company's values into general and product/service-specific customer values and benefits.

All too frequently PR people tend to list the tangible, technical and functional benefits and stop. Referred to as specsmanship, the focus is a one way stream from the company to the marketplace, rather than giving the effort to understand and project this information in consumer terms. 

More importantly, PR people often list the tangible values and stop.  Even in business-to-business there are intangible values -- the emotional areas that must be satisfied.  In the early computer days there was a common, never-listed line item on purchase orders: the intangible value that no one was ever fired for buying from IBM.  In recent history, Intel Inside has been used by PC and notebook manufacturers to give the buying public added reassurance with their system purchases.

Intangible and tangible customer values must continuously support each other, and support/reinforce the company's anchor values.


The third leg of the PR program is product/service positioning, which will vary from market segment to market segment.  If the dotcom trials and tribulations of the past year have shown us anything, it is that there is no such thing as one global market. 

Using Intel as an example, there is a different positioning proposition for dealers, first time buyers, corporate buyers, professional users, software developers, video/multimedia developers, computer manufacturer management, engineers and buyers, as well as other micro markets. 

The same positioning process holds true for consumer products and business/consumer services.  Auto manufacturers tailor different messages for dealers, fleet buyers, people in different age groups, men and women, and even different nationalities.  Online services that survive are quickly learning to micro manage their positioning messages.  Service organizations like legal, financial, venture capital, market research and, yes, even public relations are tailoring their messages to specific market and client segments. 

  Next page > A Program with Legs > Page 1, 2, 3

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