Public Relations (PR) and marketing makes a difference – but what does it really mean?

As human beings we like to give everything a label, a definition in order to help us categorise and understand what things are, and what they mean.

I’ve always been a bit fascinated by this and how people interpret meanings. As former Director of Marketing at one of the UK’s largest FE Colleges the term ‘marketing’ covered everything from sorting out the advertising, website, events, designing and copy writing all marketing materials, media liaison – plus internal and external communications and crisis management in the broader sense. To be frank we also had to sweep up and litter pick to ensure the place looked its best for public events! It’s certainly not all glamour!

We did not however see ourselves as a ‘sales team’. Implicitly our work led to increased enrolments and income for the organisation – but we didn’t trawl over sales targets to influence our activity. We always kept our eye on the ball in terms of how recruitment was going, but our work encapsulated all things PR, marketing and communications related to keep the college at the top of its game in terms of reputation and community profile.

In other businesses the term ‘marketing’ will be entirely sales focused. It will be drilling down to the n’th degree about income streams, targets, return on investment and so on.

Similarly public relations (PR) seems hard to categorize. In a nutshell it’s about reputation.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations(CIPR) gives the following definition: ‘Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.’

Are you asleep yet?

Here at Lime Tree Communications we like this definition of PR by American author Alan Harrington:

“Public relations is the craft of arranging truths so that people will like you. Public relations specialists make flower arrangements of the facts placing them so that the wilted and less attractive petals are hidden by the sturdy blooms.”

We’ve always been pretty good at flower arranging and making things look creatively attractive … so if you’d like us to arrange your facts into a pretty and appealing picture – then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.