People often make the mistake of thinking that Marketing and Public Relations (PR) is the same thing. Marketing is the custodian of any company’s brand. It is generally responsible for establishing brands – the look and feel of logos (fonts and colours) as well as how these brands can be used/applied in different platforms. More importantly, marketing strategies cover promotional, direct marketing and advertising which seeks to return direct sales.
A good example of a marketing role in an organisation’s rebranding exercise is the amalgamation of Absa’s brand from the merger of its financial providers: United Bank, Allied, Volkskas and Sage group. During this process, Marketing did an amazing job in entrenching the new brand into everyone’s hearts and minds. The role of PR however is always to look after the reputation of any company’s brand. In Absa’s case, PR was responsible for telling the story behind the new brand – this included the reasons behind the change, the benefits to customers and the business goals.
You see, the two functions work together, and they complement each other but there is a clear distinction between the two roles. Another example is when my marketing colleague and I used to get advertorials from any of the Absa branches to approve before they were published in the local newspapers. The first thing she noticed in the advertorials was:
How the logo was applied, if it was placed in the wrong place and if the right colours were used.
Also, she would check if the logo used was actually the correct one and if the formatting of the advert was aligned according to Absa’s corporate identity rules. On the other hand, as a typical PR specialist and writer – I would notice if there were any spelling/grammatical errors, if the punctuation marks were applied correctly or if the overall rules of writing were used correctly. In summary, the role of PR in any organisation is as follows:
To build and look after the reputation of any company’s brand using leadership profiling, stakeholder relations and reputation management.
To create awareness around a company’s brand, its products and services through media publicity and media relations.
To provide the company’s target audiences with relevant information on the brand and its offerings in an effort to assist them in making informed business or buying decisions.
And lastly, if a potential customer heard a company executive on a radio or TV interview talking about how the organisation is making a difference in business or in the communities where it operates and based on what was said – then decide that they want to be associated with that brand – then PR has done its job. I hope that this week’s column will help aspirant youth to have a slight idea of the difference between these two careers and what would be expected of them on the ground on a daily basis.
NB: Again, I would like to encourage everyone to engage on these important issues and find solutions together – constructively of course. These columns can be found on all Ekurhuleni News social media pages and on my pages every Thursday: FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – my handles are all the same @MirandaLusiba. Each week, we continue to discuss different topics that I am passionate about under these themes:
• Week One: Basic Financial Literacy – basics I learnt while I was at Absa and mistakes I made with money, and how others can learn from my mistakes.
• Week Two: PR-Related issues – using my 21-years’ experience in PR working in corporates – to groom the next generation of PR specialists.
• Week Three: Entrepreneurship/SMME issues – mistakes I have made, and lessons learnt from running my own business in the last 10-years.
Week Four: Socio-economic Issues – these are very close to my heart. I would like to try and help tackle issues that affect ordinary South Africans in previously disadvantaged communities – these will range from education, poverty alleviation to youth-related issues.