PR's role in the marketing mix expands

My favorite word at the moment is "blur" and how it relates to the indistinction between my professional and my personal life, between gender roles, and between marketing and the business of PR.

My favorite word at the moment is “blur” and how it relates to the indistinction between my professional and my personal life, between gender roles, and between marketing and the business of PR.  

Nothing is neatly compartmentalized any longer. While that suits me, I've had lots of questions recently from marketing folks about where the function of PR should sit in an organization. Of course, there is no formula.

PR is so much bigger than marketing, but PR equally plays an important marketing role that is becoming increasingly crucial as brand image and brand reputation blur. Many organizations are struggling with the optimum mix of disciplines to best harness the new influence and advocacy that's driving brand reputation and brand preference.  

Does this mean that PR should report to marketing? Or the other way around? The continuing rise of social media, the need for listening to and participating in conversations, and the business requirement to be uber-responsive to potential issues suggests a shift in power to the PR function that I believe is creating some discomfort with CMOs.

Of course, the traditional marketing mix remains a solid route to creating and maintaining awareness of scale, communicating key messages at point-of-purchase, and generally staying top of mind through frequency and placement of brand communications.

Most brands have realized that paid-for media needs to be balanced with strong earned media to establish credentials and build trust with target audiences.

There is no formula for creating the optimum structure. I do believe that PR professionals have an opportunity to take on more of the marketing mantle, but they will need to understand the language and the KPI while CMOs will need to bone up on new skills that are fairly foreign to the traditional push model.

MaryLee Sachs is the director of worldwide marketing communications for Hill & Knowlton and chairman of Hill & Knowlton US.

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