How Public Relations Differs from Marketing and why it is so Important

In the modern world, connecting products, people and organizations to consumers and stakeholders is vital to the success of an organization. The two main ways organizations do this are marketing and Public Relations. While both serve the overall purpose of promotion, Marketing and public relations are very different and each bring unique strategies to an organization. The first major difference is the goal of each sector. Marketing serves to drive revenue. It focuses on the consumer and is driven by the desire for sales. Public relations focuses on generating positive media coverage and communication with stakeholders. A strong relationship with the public, the media, and stakeholders sells the company brand as a whole. To fully understand the differences between marketing and public relations it is important to take a close look at the function, tactics, and outcome of each.

Marketing focuses its attention on direct, promotional services and advertising. The goal of these tactics is to drive sales. Marketers look to reach both current and target customers. This can involve extensive research on consumer behavior, market trends, and advertisement costs. A benefit of marketing is that the company controls the message that is given to consumers. They can spin any story or campaign to their sole message and brand. The drawback of this is that to the consumer, a message coming directly from a company is less trustworthy. A company wants people to think they are great and recognize all the great things they do, so they will highlight that part in marketing, and not always paint a complete picture of the product.

Public relations isn’t consumer driven, but rather reputation driven. It also involves a lot more communication with stakeholders. Instead of solely focusing on customers, PR maintains strong relationships with anyone with interest in the brand or organization. For PR, the company is the product, and their job is to “sell” it through positive communication with media, community, and stakeholders. Unlike marketing, public relations does not have full creative control over publicity. While marketing often uses advertisements created by the company, public relations focuses on articles written by other media outlets or coverage from influencers. Public relations specialists do not have full control over what is written about the organization, but they can present facts and provide media in a way that will spin a story the way they want it.  There is just not one hundred percent guarantee it will turn out the way the specialist planned.

Another difference is that public relations usually plans long-term strategies while marketing seeks to drive instant, tangible sales. A person on the marketing team may pay for an advertisement in a magazine, consumers will see the ad and sales may go up as a result. Public relations may host a charity event to represent values of the company. While the even may not result in a big spike of sales, it improves the company’s reputation and will help sales over time if people have a good image of the organization.

To manage PR properly an organization must have a person or team of people who understand the public relations industry. PR professionals should have excellent relationship building skills. Building trusting relationships with others in the organization, stakeholders, and media personnel is key. Additionally, the company must ensure its PR team can communicate and execute the company’s values, goals, and mission clearly. Public relations is important because it invests in the company’s trust with consumers. A marketing campaign can be the best on the world, but if consumers have a bad image of the brand, they will never buy the product. Public relations is key when an organization’s reputation comes into question. Companies inevitably undergo scandals or unforeseen poor choices. With a strong public relations team, organizations can properly handle conflict and resolve issues as efficiently as possible while recovering their original reputation. Even if there is no conflict, PR is essential to manage relationship, continue to generate positive press, and communicate with its publics.

Brand and Values of Chick-Fil-A

Brands might not always seem like they dictate what we purchase, but they do, even if we don’t realize it. Brandanew describes branding as a, “complex topic that combines elements of consumer psychology with the tenets of marketing.” More often than not, emotion influences what brands people buy. That’s probably why you’re still drawn towards the same brand of toothpaste or milk that your mom bought you as a kid. Brands are picking up on this and are starting to use it to their advantage. Many brands with already established names such as Chick-Fil-A, Google, and Coca Cola have completely moved their advertisements away from talking about the product itself, and instead focused in on the emotions.

A brand that really stands out to me when it comes to emotional and values-based branding is Chick-Fil-A. This chain of chicken-joints makes it very clear to their customers and employees what their values are and that they will always stick to them. In 1946 Truett Cathy opened the first Chick-Fil-A in Hapeville, Georgia. According to the Chick-Fil-A website, Cathy decided that the restraint would be closed on Sundays to allow for Sundays to be for rest and worship. Every Chick-Fil-A still abides by this every day. That’s not the only way that Chick-Fil-A shows their strong Christian values. The food chain funds a charity called the WinShape Foundation that offers counseling to married couples. The foundation, however, does not offer service to same-sex couples. When this came to light in 2011, the public was outraged. According to the Washington Post, Dan Cathy, current CEO of Chick-Fil-A responded, “We’re inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”  Following these statements, many celebrities and public officials claimed they would boycott Chick-Fil-A. Despite not everyone agreeing with their values, Chick-Fil-A remains strong in what they believe in. The company was built by a devout Christian and the company stands on Christian values.

While it is their unwavering values that make people dislike Chick-Fil-A, it is the same values that make people come back for more. Aligning with their Christian attitudes, Chick-Fil-A demands certain standards of their employees and restaurant atmosphere. Chick-Fil-A employees are required to respond with “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” to create a kinder and more positive customer experience. Additionally, Chick-Fil-A employees are known to be always extremely polite, smiling, and they can even be seen standing in the rain taking orders to customers in the drive through. Such behavior has even launched an abundance of internet memes about how nice Chick-Fil-A employees can be.

Chick-Fil-A does not keep their brand a secret. They live it in everything they do from big company decisions to little things they employees do every day. Since their product, or their food, has already been established, they now focus their advertisements around emotion. The biggest marketing campaign for Chick-Fil-A is a cow or multiple cows wearing a sign that say, “EAT MOR CHIKIN.” This doesn’t necessarily tell the customer anything about Chick-Fil-A or its chicken, but it’s a funny and memorable image that sticks in people’s minds.

Their values come into their advertising more around Christmas time, which makes sense since it’s a Christian holiday. This past Christmas Chick-Fil-A’s commercial went viral. It was a rather long ad of an animated story where a little girl goes into a clock and enters a new world. She learns about the value of time and when she returns to her home, encourages her family to spend more time together. The ad ends with the whole family building a snowman together outside. By watching the ad, a viewer would have no idea what brand or company it was for until the last few seconds when the Chick-Fil-A logo is displayed on the screen. The ad tells nothing about the product, but it does appeal to the emotional values of the company. When someone watches that ad and then associates it with Chick-Fil-A, they associate family, value of quality time, and happiness with the Chick-Fil-A brand. Although it may not say that Chick-Fil-A has the best chicken ever, the ad perfect appeals to consumers’ emotions and reflects the company’s values.