Posted At: April 14, 2008 11:29 AM
by Sabrina McLaughlin, APR, Contributing Writer
All too often in the daily grind of business, people find themselves struggling with the difficult decisions of how to get the word out about what they have or what they do. While traditional advertising is evident on every street corner or magazine page, public relations initiatives often get dismissed or are never given much thought to begin with. However, what many fail to realize is that public relations is built on the premise that an organization has and/or desires a relationship with its publics. If that relationship does not or cannot exist, then your traditional advertising will not work.
While this is a bold statement, it is apparent in many of the most successful organizations that we know and love. The bottom line is that if you use public relations to establish mutually beneficial relationships between your business and its publics, advertising will saturate the market and be truly effective. The idea is to have the two work together in tandem performing amazing feats of artistry on your behalf and directly attributing those efforts to your bottom line.
PR, this is advertising, so say hello and shake hands. Advertising, this is PR. Together the two are a powerful force to be reckoned with in any industry or market. A perfect example … Starbucks. As we all know Starbucks is one of the most successful coffee companies on the planet for several reasons, but one is the mere fact that it has a customer relations based approach to how it does business—Starbucks puts customers first and treats them the same way no matter what particular shop you walk into. Public relations must start from the ground up (no pun intended) and Starbucks understands this approach. Every customer is greeted, called by name and taken care of—this is the livelihood of its business. In fact, the company believes in this practice and the quality of its product so much that until recently it has done very little traditional advertising. Starbucks decided to venture out into the world of print ads and outdoor media when the brand reached a plateau—having established a relationship with its publics, the company is now using traditional media to push itself over that plateau.
Organizations should train their employees to take care of customers—they are the front line of defense. In order to achieve this, organizations should conduct regular staff meetings so they know what is going on with promotions, providing customer relations training for them and monitoring how they are treating customers. Even the person who answers the phone has the ability to change how people see an organization. In many cases it is that person who answers the phone or stands at the front to greet customers that sets the tone and pace for a customer’s experience.
Once an organization has established its brand in the minds and hearts of its potential customers using public relations, advertising can then be used to solidify those perceptions and experiences while taking an organization above and beyond that plateau. Use advertising to touch on the ideas and concepts about your business that now already exist in the mind of your potential customer. The bottom line is this: the true function of advertising is to reinforce an existing message. If you want to send a new message, use public relations.
E-mail: Sabrina McLaughlin