Redefining Public Relations

by Jason Falls |

Two general topics grabbed me this week. One was the recent ballyhoo surrounding this notion that customer service is the new marketing. No fewer than most of my favorite public relations minds all wrote about it. Some argued semantics. Others jumped on board and echoed the sentiments.

Redefining PRThe second was Bill Sledzik’s tome declaring reasons he mistrusts marketing. He refers to it as PR’s “evil twin” and hints that public relations practitioners today even fail to differentiate between PR and marketing. Sledzik appears to be an old school PR craftsman who is resistant to the notion of integrated marketing (i.e. – that which includes public relations).

Some see marketing, public relations and customer service as different components of the business approach. Some see marketing dictating the others. Even more see customer service as a totally separate from the communications discipline.

In the midst of the cacophony of conversation, I jotted down notes that led to the following:

First, define public relations. Don’t look it up. It’s simpler than that. It is relating with the public.

Next, let’s separate it from marketing, but recognize that public relations will always be part of the greater marketing mix. It doesn’t necessarily mean marketing is greater than public relations. For good marketing cannot exist successfully without it.

Finally, let us realize that while for years we have utilized public relations as an outlet for messages that support the marketing plan, relating with the public requires us to allow both inbound messages and to monitor those passed between those outside our organization.

Therefore, public relations becomes the mechanism by which outbound messaging reaches our audiences, how the public’s inbound messaging reaches our organization and how we monitor messages among audience members communicating relevant information about our brands.

And this applies both off-line, as explained, and on-line through social media.

In other words, customer service is public relations. Is it the new marketing? No. But it sure is nice to think good marketing might mean prioritizing conversation over conversion and message over execution.

Related posts in this conversation you’ll find interesting:

  1. What If Customers Were The Service?
  2. “This Is The Corp Comms Dept. How May We Serve You Better?”
  3. Customer Service Is The New, New Marketing
  4. Public Relations Is Customer Service
  5. The Four Tenets Of The Community Manager
  6. It Takes More Than Gestures To Deliver Amazing Customer Service
  7. If Customer Service Is The New Marketing (Part 1)
  8. Customer Service Is The New Marketing
  9. Customer Service Is Marketing
  10. We’re All In Customer Relations (Added)
  11. Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus.
[tags]customer service, public relations, marketing, new marketing, conversation, communications[/tags]


About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).