Marketing Without PR Fails

06/12/2015 07:26 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2016

Marketers try to convince through psychological force while public relations professionals try to persuade through tapping into the pre-existing desires and values of their audiences. We lay the groundwork for marketers by creating the alluring perceptions that marketers sell.

Without us, marketing efforts often fail. The reason for this is simple, while repetition may be the motto of marketers, a story that doesn't stick, won't stick no matter how many times you throw it at a wall. Case and point, Victoria Secret's 2014 "The 'Perfect' Body Campaign," which played on the reiteration of the word perfect -- "perfect body, perfect fit, perfect comfort, perfectly soft," -- displayed with only model-thin and toned spokeswomen.

The campaign was hit with widespread disapproval due to the implied assertion that Victoria Secret was made for women with the "perfect bodies" displayed by their uniformly toned spokeswomen and through absence of representation of other body types, not made for other women. The marketing campaign failed miserably, hurting sales and positive brand perception, and was eventually pulled.

The reason for the failure: a disconnect between the audience's values and beliefs and the brand representation marketed towards Victoria's Secret's potential consumers. While the campaign was marketed well, playing across various platforms, the public relations' expertise behind the campaign was either poor or non-existent. As a result, the marketing efforts tried to convince their audience of a product, which through representation they found repulsive.
Publicists are the backbone behind marketing campaigns without our ability to tap into pre-existing perceptions campaigns either prove ineffective or in the case of Victoria Secret -- harmful.

As a result, integrated marketing is being taught in universities as a combination discipline of public relations, marketing, and communications. The effects of integrated marketing is most evident in native advertising. According to The Online Publishers' Association President Pam Horan, native advertising "is really an outgrowth of the custom and integrated marketing."

Due to the need of marketers for public relations expertise, the overlap between the two disciplines will likely progress. "The marketing mix is now very fluid, with every discipline overlapping and becoming increasingly interdependent and it's this integrated approach which is needed in order to truly develop an organization's voice," states Aspectus PR. In 2015, Mary Devereux filled the spot of Wall Street Journal Asia's newly created position of Associate Director of Integrated Marketing.

Companies are no longer just looking for paid or earned media; they want both. Marketing and PR have merged. The only question left, is whether marketers or public relations specialist will be the first to rise to the unique challenges presented by integrated marketing.