Penny drops, proof found in PR pudding

It’s taken a while but the penny finally seems to have dropped. Advertising/marketing campaigns work much better if you aim to get good public relations from the get go. Not just for the brand/product but also for the campaign itself.

Sixteen years ago when I joined DDB and got involved in the marketing communications side of PR, New Zealand agencies and clients largely thought PR was corporate communications, reputation management and responding to pesky journalists. Using the dark art to promote an advertising campaign was fairly rare.

How times have changed. Today some of the best campaigns, such as the NAB’s Break Up and Decode Jay-Z with Bing, both Cannes Grand Prix Lion winners, are crawling with PR references. Of course, this awakening has been coming for a while. Yellow might never have cleaned up at our own EFFIEs and Axis Awards two years in a row if the campaigns hadn’t been covered on the 6pm news or the front page of the NZ Herald.

Ask any ECD worth their salt what makes a campaign a success and puts the icing on the advertising cake and the answer is getting positive media coverage, preferably worldwide. Air New Zealand’s Nothing to Hide campaign anyone?

Of course there’s good PR and bad PR, as a few Rugby World Cup sponsors have discovered lately. I lost a bet with my husband that Telecom wouldn’t pull the ‘Abstain for the Game’ campaign. More fool me. I misjudged the mood of this pious nation.

Of course, it all goes to prove my point: that well managed PR can make or break a company’s marketing.

We always advise our clients that the media is unbelievably powerful—as are consumers—and it’s best to engage someone with a good understanding of both media and consumers to take a look at any slightly risqué marketing campaign before you invest your dollars.

Imagine if adidas had supported the launch of its All Black jerseys with a PR campaign talking about the support it gives to grassroots rugby here. Or if Kiwis found the tongue-in-cheekiness of Sean Fitzpatrick in a pink bumper car relevant because he’d told us that the intensity of a world cup campaign meant we all need a little light relief.

Wouldn’t we all love them that much more. And buy their products more readily?

Personally I’m glad the penny has dropped. It makes it a lot easier to convince companies to ensure their marketing generates good PR by investing in marcomms PR upfront. Using PR to leverage your marketing campaign is doubly powerful but, like marmite, it’s not for everyone.

It’s time now to learn our lessons from the past few months and turn that lonely penny clanking in the bottom of the communications tin into a steady tinkle of PR gold.

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