P&G's marketing chief Marc Pritchard has long been a proponent of the value of PR in the marketing and communications mix.
This commitment was sealed in May, when the consumer packaged goods giant reorganized its communications structure under Pritchard, with longtime P&G staffer Chris Hassall retiring in June after 30 years at the company. At the time of the changes, Pritchard told PRWeek, "PR and communications will become an even more essential and integrated part of how we build our brands." Indeed, no piece of marketing is rubber stamped at P&G these days without PR being at least a component of it.
Clearly, it is good news for the PR industry when the largest packaged goods company in the world takes such a bold step. But, in truth, the change is driven also by a desire to cut costs and recognition that paid-for advertising, as well as being much more expensive, is not the sole answer to marketing effectiveness in an age of conversation and consumer engagement.
The other factor is the trend toward global marketing where brand activity clusters more around big events, such as the Olympics, to produce economies of scale.
And Pritchard is also spearheading P&G's commitment to leading the way on measurement, establishing an in-house system that can evaluate the effectiveness of PR and social media activity, as well as any system in the business. That is especially significant when the company you work for owns 22 brands that each generate more than $1 billion in revenue every year and another 19 that pull in $500 million or more. It's also a response to a 16% year-on-year dive in profits in Q1 at P&G and the cutting of 4,000 jobs in February of this year – every cent counts.
The industry will be watching closely to see how Pritchard evolves his dual marketing and communications role over the next 12 months and how it impacts the way P&G promotes its brands and handles its corporate and consumer relations.