PR for Marketing and for You

Something touched upon in our meeting with Edelman (HP’s relationship with Edelman’s Spanish office) is how the public relations function fits into the promotional puzzle of larger, MBA-driven organizations. One might be surprised to find that PR is, to many in the business world (particularly B2C), the last –albeit essential- step in the marketing process. This, I’ve learned, holds some important implications on how to brand oneself to would-be clients,…so I’m wondering how these implications could be affected by European business dynamics.

The tenets of B2C marketing can most elegantly be described by the Four Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Rather than delve deeply into each P’s relevance to an overall strategy, I’ll simply say this: after one has developed the optimal product for a market, has priced it for maximum gross profit, and has placed it in the most profitable mix of sales channels, they then seek to promote it via advertising and public relations.

This globally taught schema suggests two things right away: 1) after product release, biz school grads (those not schooled in relationship marketing) immediately see PR as asymmetrical, and 2) if one hopes to work with big business, one should brand oneself as an important, informative piece of the Four Ps or, after years of strategic experience, brand oneself above the Four Ps.

I am, however, hesitant about the best way to present oneself to European business, specifically. Given the more collective nature of many European business cultures (e.g. German), should one worry about transcending PR’s predetermined space? Moreover, given all of the cultures and varying measures of success, do European businesses tend to depend on more common-denominator, institutionalized capacity verification (e.g. professional schooling) than their American counterparts? – well, if so, having taken a course in PR and Public Affairs from a European Perspective certainly couldn’t hurt! 🙂

– Jude C.


The Exposure Disclosure

For all the talk about social media’s utility, its champions’ chatter on the proven role of selective exposure in public affairs appears muted. As far as public affairs advocates are concerned, a campaign full of social-media tactics will inevitably win over the hearts and minds of some of those on the other side of most any issue,…or so they tell their clients.

Numerous studies1,2 have established that web surfers actually tend to selectively expose themselves to information that reaffirms their beliefs and, in fact, avert information that opposes them.

What does this mean to public affairs professionals? Well, besides the fact that they should stop doling out b.s. on the mind-changing efficacy of social media,  it might mean that, instead of fully investing in an oft-heralded, oft-digital we are our own media organization philosophy, PA professionals should reinvest in traditional media relations, where the presumed objectivity of the press might temper information seeking tendencies. It might also mean that PA professionals should focus their social-media efforts on mobilizing constituents who agree with their clients’ stances rather than trying to convince those who might never substantially process their pleas.

Whatever it means, it’s high time we disclose selective exposure, in public affairs literature and practice, so that we can come to terms with social media’s actual utility and perhaps find ways of overcoming –or exploiting- this phenomenon.

–  Jude C.

The Food Culture of Italy

Italy is well known for its food, but I’m finding the culture surrounding the food to be even more interesting.  The first thing I noticed about the food in Italy is the freshness of the ingredients. I didn’t even know that American pasta was lacking in freshness until I tried the pasta here. I’m also noticing how regional the dishes are. Pizza is done so differently in Rome than it is in Bologna. And within Bologna each restaurant has its own take on pasta bolognese (also known simply as ragu within Bologna).

But most interesting to me is the culture surrounding the act of eating a meal. As an American working professional, I tend to eat lunch at my office desk, while trying to type with one hand. I always feel there is no time to socialize with my friends, family and coworkers during the week. But in Italy, meal time is a celebrated event.  Virtually all stores and offices close between the hours of noon and 3 or 4, and during this time you will find Italians dining together in one of the many restaurants and cafes. After work, cafes once again fill up for happy hour, but unlike in America, drinks come with tantalizing aperitivos, or small bites, which Italians share over conversation.  Kwintessential, an intercultural communication site gives a great overview of the art of eating Italian food.

From a communication perspective, (since that is what we’re here to study) after a few days of partaking in this tradition, I am finding the food culture to be an important communication tool. From what I’ve seen over these last few weeks, these shared meals seem to facilitate relationships and trust much more quickly and deeply than those in the U.S. So, partly because its fun, and partly because its useful, I’m going to take a tip from the Italians and try to export this delicious and satisfying social culture to my U.S. life.

– Kristina