IN my previous article, I highlighted the differences between public relations and advertising. Both of these marketing tools are important in creating an effective and successful marketing communication campaign.
Today, I want to talk about PR and how effective it is for companies; especially in creating good publicity and building a reputation with potential customers.
When the US donut chain Krispy Kreme opened its first store in Thailand in 2010, they announced they would give away a year’s supply of a dozen free donuts a week to the first customer. This was doled out right up to the 200th customer.
Prior to the event, very few Thais had heard of this US brand. Thanks to the publicity stunt coupled with the use of social media like Twittter and Facebook, thousands of Thais of all ages queued up to buy the donuts. They were later seen carrying their sugary fried delights in boxes and bags with Krispy Kreme logos through the streets, on the BTS trains and in the shopping malls. Some customers took photos and uploaded them on various social websites as they wanted to show off the latest fast food trend. The end result? Krispy Kreme got loads of free publicity without having to splash out for a major advertising campaign.
Public Relations is a result of what companies and individuals do, what they say and most importantly, what others say about them. PR is more than product launches or publicity stunts; it is a tool that supports the long term strategic marketing plan.
Because PR uses third party endorsement such as print, broadcast and online media, the consumers are usually provided with a more detailed and interesting angle of the company’s product or services.
PR is often misunderstood to be just activities to promote a product or service. In fact, the role of PR has changed significantly in recent years and has become an integral part of brand building.
PR is used to build product awareness and in opening new markets. Companies which want to introduce a new product or service or are re-launching an existing product or service resort to PR to generate consumer’s attention and awareness. This could be achieved through creative events or campaigns. During one of the PGA Tours, golfer Tiger Woods was seen using a particular brand of golf club, after which the manufacturer received enquiries from all over the world.
PR is also used to provide consumers with detailed information about products or services. This could be done through articles and other collateral materials to help consumers understand the product. For instance, during the rainy season, car companies may provide tips for driving safely on wet roads and write about changing car tires or wipers. Hospitals could provide information about disease outbreaks.
PR can also be seen as attracting competent employees into the company as they want to be part of a successful company. Companies with a positive image also attract major investors and shareholders. These are just some examples of the role of PR in a marketing campaign. Before embarking on any PR campaigns, companies must be specific with the goals they want to achieve.