A message to marketers from Quentin Bell, chairman of the Public Relations Consultants Association
It's fitting for the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) in this, its 25th year, to sponsor the Marketing league table(*), as the "brand building" element of PR still represents our members' major preoccupation: helping clients to build their businesses, and increase their reputations.
But the face of PR in the UK has improved dramatically since the PRCA was formed in 1969. Where are the changes most marked? Here are some:
* Member consultancies now increasingly advise at board level, alongside marketing directors and chief executives, to assist in formulating communications strategies for implementation across all "stakeholders" who can impact on a client's success -- among them, employees, their families, the local community, investors, legislators, and, of course, consumers.
* "Unstrategic" creativity is no longer appropriate. PRCA members now devise and implement creative tactics that make all the right associations and deliver the appropriate messages.
* Media planning and targeting is increasingly heralding the death of "scattergun" PR -- and PRCA members lead the world in the use of media measurement, monitoring and evaluation. All campaigns are measurable.
So what about the future?
We predict that marketers will continue to increase their PR budgets throughout this decade. Here are some reasons:
* Media proliferation -- and its fragmentation into vertical interest sectors -- means that it is PR that can most cost-effectively communicate brand or corporate messages to key targets through the 2035 national, regional and freesheet newspapers, 2301 consumer magazines, 4469 business magazines, 130 radio stations (only 29 in 1980), and the ever-increasing number of satellite and cable TV stations, which might achieve 50% penetration by the year 2000.
* New media opportunities abound for marketers. Editorial "promotions" on radio, competitions in the press, TV programme sponsorship and magazine sponsored columns or features are among the many innovative PR methods of getting brand messages across.
* The credibility of PR continues to provide a competitive edge for brand marketers who want to persuade consumers and other groups by creating dialogues with them -- "talking with", rather than "shouting at" is becoming more effective among more literate and "canny" consumers.
* Extra PR budgets in the mix can produce greater incremental effectiveness as part of a fully integrated programme. PR can validate advertising, but often leads the whole process.
* PR campaigns to identify and project the corporate brand personality, so that groups such as employees and consumers "own it", can have a direct bearing on products' brand share. …