2016: The Year Marketing & PR Get Their Act Together

By: Gary J. Nix | Reading Time: 4 min

We have reached the end of 2015 which means it is time for numerous predictions as to what our wonderful industry has in store for the new year. Some predictions come true, some miss entirely and completely. However, in true Gary fashion, I present my own forecast regarding something that will not only happen, butneeds to happen: marketing and public relations departments will stop fighting with each other and begin to work together.

Mic drop-esque statement notwithstanding, this prediction came to me in a vision... OK, I looked at my phone and saw my college roommate had started to a social media company on Twitter, but to some that is a vision.

Anyway, thinking about his new position in the communications department at a large company made me think about experiences and conversations I've had in the social space and the marketing industry as a whole. In recent history, marketing and PR departments have been trying to stake their claims on certain aspects of marketing and communications. This has bothered me for some time since the way I learned about marketing is that there are four (4) functions within: 

  1. marketing;
  2. advertising;
  3. promotion; and
  4. public relations.

With this philosophy, it would only make sense that marketing and public relations must work together in order for any program to be optimally successful -- not partially successful, optimally.

Thus, I began to think even more about the marketing/PR disconnect and realized that the in-fighting has most recently reared its ugly head in one particular arena: social media -- the one place where you can illustrate how the two work together best.

Granted, it is nearly 2016 by the time I've penned this post and people still question how effective social media is. Additionally, people continue to have issues defining social media's purpose in their business.

You see, social media itself is comfortable in communications as a whole. The purpose of social media is to be social. Converse, listen, respond, build relationships -- these are the ways that social media helps build bonds with consumers and there is value in that. The media part of "social media" is in amplification -- the ability to be social with many people at once. In turn, social media belongs in communications -- the department where you most often find public relations -- right?

Allow me to say, "Whoa, Nelly..." for a moment.

Part of being social is knowing when to communicate information. Pleasantries such as, "Hi," "Thank you," and "What it do?" can be great, but when a consumer asks a question about your product or service, none of those responses are helpful. Part of your product or service's goal is to be of benefit to consumers and those benefits do need to be communicated when the consumer is ready. More often than not, the marketing department has those answers even if Sway doesn't. So, am I saying that marketing should own social media?

Simmer down, now. Just, just simmer down...

There is a word that we seem to forget, maybe even ignore. That word is too. This short word can mean so much: also, in addition to, in conjunction with meaning we do not have to only do one thing or, in this case, we do not have to relegate one technique to one department. The reason social media is effective is because communication helps build business through forming relationships. People don't, and excuse my foul language here, interface (ugh, buzzword), with you if they don't feel some sort of connection or other feeling of comfort. On the front end, social media helps you know who consumers are and helps consumers know who you are. Without this, people WILL NOT buy your product or service, period. Communication is the beginning of the process to purchase.

Furthermore, communications includes gauging how the public perceives your company and information on how your company feels alongside what it has to offer. You need both of those things to mesh, intertwine, intersect, integrate, in this mothe... sorry, I got carried away, but you get the point. One cannot live without the other. Conclusion: marketing needs public relations and vice versa, or maybe versa vice-a. 

So, in closing, I ask, in the immortal words of Rick & Morty, that these two business functions get their act together for a better and prosperous 2016.

The original version of this story appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.