Having the privilege to teach in The Temerlin ADVERTISING Institute, I was thinking about my current graduate course, Consumer Engagement Strategies, and the concept of “advertising.”
After much thought, I simply no longer believe that advertising is a particularly relevant or needed construct to describe the way marketing communications is currently practiced.
Advertising. Public Relations. Social Media. Corporate Communications. Sales Promotion. Media. Where does one end and the other begin?
Each of the above distinctions are a product of a bygone era that are quickly eroding. In my mind the quicker the better! These terms describe particular job functions that should no longer be the focus of our attention. Rather we must focus broadly on the purpose of communicating; building relationships.
Credit to Hugh MacLeod
For example, advertising has often been defined as, “…the nonpersonal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.”(Bovee, 1992, p. 7). Such a definition tells what advertising was, but not why it was used. And it certainly does not capture what modern advertising agencies do…they build relationships.
Until 2012, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defined public relations as “helping an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” A modern definition suggests, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
But these mutually beneficial relationships are not the exclusive domain of PR or any communications discipline. All of the above traditional communications disciplines define different processes to communicate with those with whom they interact. People in advertising use terms like customers, targets, segments, and opinion leaders. People in public relations call them stakeholders. Social media specialists look for evangelists and influencers.
All marketing communications [should] have the goal of building relationships. Building relationships requires engaging with people. The best way to engage people is to serve them, provide them something of value.
Messages are valuable to the degree they are relevant to another party. Messages provide value by either informing or entertaining. Whether the end result of the interaction is transactional or something longer-term, serving people should be the goal.
Serving people solves problems, creates good will, and builds relationships.
Is this advertising, public relations, sales promotion, or …?