Integrated Marketing Communications : The Public Relations Perspective
Several studies have examined integrated marketing communications from an advertising and marketing perspective, but little has been done from the public relations perspective. This research sought to determine the opinions public relations practitioners have about integrated marketing communications, and to find out if they integrate their public relations. In June, 1992, 533 surveys were mailed to public relations agency practitioners, corporate practitioners. and educators. There were 175 responses. Public relations agency practitioners were most familiar with, and most supportive of, integrated marketing communications. They were also most likely to say it was cost effective, was beneficial, was driven by client needs. and was the "way of the future." Nearly all said they helped clients integrate their public relations. Public relations educators were almost as familiar with the concept as agency practitioners, but they showed the least enthusiasm and support for it. Only half said their public relations curriculum was integrated with other communications disciplines, and they were less likely to feel integration was driven by client needs. Less than half felt integration was the way of the future. Corporate public relations practitioners were least familiar with the concept; they supported integrated marketing communications less than agency practitioners, but more than the educators. The percentage who said they integrated was almost the same as Northwestern University researchers found when they asked corporate marketing and advertising practitioners if they integrated. Corporate practitioners were most likely to say public relations was an equal partner with other communications disciplines in integrated marketing communications programs. The terminology -- calling the concept integrated "marketing" communications, versus referring to it as just integrated communications -- did not seem to be an issue. There was considerable disagreement between agency practitioners and educators on the roles of marketing and public relations. Most agency practitioners indicated public relations was a part of the marketing function; educators strongly disagreed. Smaller organizations (both client and agency) were more likely to integrate their public relations than were larger organizations. Likewise, smaller schools were more likely to teach public relations as part of an integrated program. Public relations agencies that were affiliated with advertising agencies were no more likely to integrate than those that were not; clients who used public relations agencies were no more likely to integrate than those that didn't. Finally, practitioners who practiced "marketing" public relations (product publicity, trade show support, etc.) were more likely to integrate than those who practiced "corporate" public relations (media relations, public affairs, etc.).
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