We are all public relations people now
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We are all public relations people now

Paul Holmes

I think the premise of this McKinsey Quarterly article—We’re All Marketers Now—is accurate as far as it goes, but regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that I don’t think it goes far enough. Authors Tom French, Laura LaBerge, and Paul Magill make the case that “at the end of the day, customers no longer separate marketing from the product—it is the product. They don’t separate marketing from their in-store or online experience—it is the experience. In the era of engagement, marketing is the company.” I’d make the case that the focus on the consumer is necessary but not sufficient. In the social media age, companies need to focus on a broad range of stakeholders. In other words “We’re All Public Relations People Now.” The authors suggest, rightly, that: “In today’s marketing environment, companies will be better off if they stop viewing customer engagement as a series of discrete interactions and instead think about it as customers do: a set of related interactions that, added together, make up the customer experience.” (In PR, we call that “set of related interactions” a relationship.) As for the question French, LaBerge and Magill raise in the introduction to their article—“if everyone’s responsible for marketing, who’s accountable?”—is not, it seems to me, unique to marketing, or indeed public relations. If a company is going to be profitable, everyone needs to understand his or her role in its financial success. That doesn’t mean there’s no role for the CFO. Similarly, if a company is going to maintain healthy relationships with its customers and other key stakeholders, everyone needs to understand how their behavior contributes to—or undermines—those relationships. That doesn’t mean there’s no role for a senior, dedicated PR professional.
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