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Benefits of Integrated Marketing Communications

Integration of PR and Marketing The main benefits to using integrated marketing communications or IMC is that it is essential and cost-effective to an organization. In addition, IMC addresses the issue of the four different messages that an organization needs to be aware of so it can control or at least influence. Also, there are six steps that if followed will effectively integrate public relations and marketing in order to meet an organization’s goals.

Public relations practitioners are often asked to do many other duties in coordination with marketing and advertising in order to achieve the organization’s goals. If public relations is integrated with the total communication program, it will save time and money, but also improve the organization’s ability to protect the integrity of the product or service (Miller & Rose, 1994).

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Every day, public relations practitioners are asked to develop programs that support marketing and advertising strategies precisely and cost-effectively. Public relations can play a strategic role in achieving marketing objectives, most importantly raising awareness (Miller & Rose, 1994). Also, public relations is expected to inform and/or influence behaviour, build trust and create a climate for customer acceptance. These activities can best be done by working with marketing and advertising functions in the organization (Miller & Rose, 1994). In order for public relations, advertising and marketing to work more efficiently the three functions need to be more closely aligned.

One approach to IMC was developed by the program director, Tom Duncan and his faculty at the University of Colorado. Duncan’s IMC Message Typology explains the four messages that an organization needs to be aware of so it can “control, or if not control, then perhaps influence.” The four types of messages are; planned, inferred, maintenance and unplanned.

The first message is a planned message, which is a deliberate communication activity such as advertising, public relations and sales promotion. A planned message is the primary tool used in an organizations communication program.

The second message is an inferred message, which is the “ones sent through the impressions the company or brand makes on the people.” For example, if a car is a Mercedes or a Ford, each brand has a different impression in the minds of consumers. These messages are controlled but are often overlooked as being a part of the communication plan.

The third type of message is a maintenance message. These are “communicated primarily through service- how a company and its employees initiate and respond to customer contact.” Examples of these messages are product instruction booklet, sales representatives and receptionists (Moriarty, 1994). These messages are usually overlooked and are not coordinated in a consistent way.

The final message is the unplanned message. These are such things as employee gossip, disasters, product recalls and investigations done by reporters (Moriarty, 1994). Some aspects of these messages are good for public relations practitioners in their approaches to crisis and issues management and employee relations (Moriarty, 1994). The main downside to this message is that it is often after the fact and then usually isn’t coordinated with the organizational communication plan.

Finally, there are six steps to follow to help integrate public relations with marketing and advertising to help meet an organization’s goals. In order for the six steps to be effective, “Public relations cannot simply be slipped into a marketing communication program. It must be integrated when marketing plans are conceived and developed.” Marketing deals with getting the word out about a product, but in order to produce quality products, an organization must have happy employees and good corporate culture. This is accomplished by having good public relations strategies.

The first step to integrating public relations is to establish a system for integrating marketing communications services. This can be done by the marketing manager, but the key is to have a workable method so that all the disciplines complement one another (Niederquell, 1991).

The next step is to take advantage of public relations counsel when the organization first decides to introduce a product or service. This will help determine if any problems may arise from a particular product or service once introduced.

The third step is to allow public relations to analyze the marketing environment in order to bring in a different point of view. This will help to plan for any issues that may arise in the future.

The fourth step is to implement specific public relations strategies into the marketing timetable. This will “identify emerging issues, potential points of conflict between the marketplace and the company, its management, products and services.

The fifth step is to use the unique targeting techniques of public relations. This will allow a company to wade through the clutter of other advertising. This will also set the company apart from similar products or services in the minds of their target audience.

The final step is to keep an open mind. If this means letting public relations be the primary communication tool as opposed to advertising. In some cases, public relations can work better for a company than advertising can (Niederquell, 1991).

Integrating public relations into the marketing and advertising communications program is essential and necessary for a company to function efficiently and cost-effectively. As long as a company realizes that public relations, marketing and advertising can work together to achieve the company goals, communication within the and to their publics will be clearer and more concise.

I believe this information is important because it can help all disciplines better understand that working together can benefit everybody within the organization. Integrating public relations with the marketing communication program may sound difficult and expensive, but it is not as long as integration happens in the beginning of the process. It is also important to remember to stay open-minded when dealing with other disciplines and offer/take criticism to help meet the company objectives.

[i:349ba28786]Bibliography Miller, Debra A.; Rose, Patricia B. Integrated communications: A look at reality instead of theory. Public Relations Quarterly, Spring94, Vol. 39 Issue 1, p13,4p,2bw.

Moriarty, Sandra E. PR and IMC: The benefits of integration. Public Relations Quarterly, Fall94, Vol. 39 Issue 3, p38, 7p, 1bw.

Niederquell, Michael O. Integrating the strategic benefits of public relations into the marketing mix. Public Relations Quarterly, Spring91, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p23, 2p, 1bw.[/i:349ba28786]

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