Should PR Report to Marketing? Vice Versa? Who Cares?

There is an interesting discussion raging (and I do mean raging!) on one of the LinkedIn groups I’m involved in – Network of PR Professionals. It all started with this post:

“Have observed/noticed in many cases Marketing wants PR to be part of their function/department…However as PR ( External and Internal) is developing, it needs to have a separate identity of it own.”

This comment was almost immediately followed by¬†another: “Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again! PR is simply one of many routes to market, and may or may not be the most appropriate use of budget.” – and the debate ensued.

There is an amazing amount of misinformation and misperception being shared in this post – I suppose no more/less so than in any other forum (which is the topic for an entirely separate blog I think). It’s a bit disconcerting for someone like me in the communication industry and somewhat disheartening. Here’s just one example:

PR/ Corporate Communications is not and can not be treated as a sub-text of Marketing.

I have a strong opinion about the subject, but the thread here has made me ponder why it all really matters. Keep in mind that this is a PR group which certainly raises the odds that there are some personal agendas/ego issues at play. But as one poster commented: “Interesting discussion – and you didn’t even get to ..’Should marketing follow sales?'”

There has always been and probably always be conflict and competition between all of the various elements of the promotional mix that is part of the marketing function.

Personally, and as I posted: ¬†I think much of the confusion/debate results from semantics – and, primarily, the definition of “marketing” which, in a literal sense is an organizational function which encompasses the “4 P’s” – product, price, place and promotion (and, under promotion, you’ll find advertising, PR, sales, etc.). PR is, therefore, definitely a subset of marketing, but so are many other organizational functions.

Businesses choose to organize themselves in different ways, especially related to the communication function (sometimes employee communications is under HR – sometimes under Corp Comm, sometimes…) I’ve been fortunate in my role as director of corporate communications for two large organizations (an investor-owned utility and an integrated healthcare system) to be responsible for the broad range of communication activities. I believe that’s the best model. But, not everyone does.

Therefore, the key, I think, is to ensure that *all* communication functions *are* well coordinated, regardless of where they officially reside. Otherwise, we run the risk of sending mixed/inconsistent messages out to our various publics – some of which may well overlap.

Doesn’t matter so much what we call things, or who reports where, but how well we coordinate our messaging so that we’re all aligned to achieve the overall goals of our respective organizations.

At the end of the day, it’s results that matter.

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