by Kim Plyler

PR is not the same as marketing which is not the same as advertising.

It’s time to clear the clutter around the difference between PR, Marketing and Advertising. First is to admit your business needs all three. Second is to admit they are all three different disciplines. Third, they are intertwined and, in the top functioning companies, they work seamlessly together across all business platforms. What makes them work seamlessly?…storytelling. Your story must bring to life the effect of your product. The lives that have been changed or made better by your company and your product.

Public Relations relies on having a good story to tell people. Marketing relies on finding the right areas to share a good story and face it without a good story tagline (advertising), how can that billboard on the highway really attract anyone?

What is emerging today is the need for PR/Marketing/Advertising firms to be good storytellers. So how do you know if you have a good firm ? Get to know their story.

When they tell their story to you, look for strong passion and engaging energy (this is a good indicator of how they will promote your company).

Look for firms whose employees have backgrounds in history, literature, theatre and liberal arts in addition to MBAs and strategic communication planning. A liberal arts education develops great storytellers: people who know, like and understand people.

You need to find a firm that will focus on your story and make it their passion. Usually a firm will come in with some formula designed to tell your mission. Blah Blah Blah. Choose a firm that comes in and works with you to have you bring out the passion in your mission. A firm that will leave you energized by your company’s mission.

It’s all in the story. Recently we were asked to define a company’s mission for them. They allotted two hours for telling our firm what their product does from a technical standpoint. After 45 minutes of learning the technical jargon we heard the junior account executive of the company say, “Hey, XYZ Company loved us because our software helped save them countless man-hours and got their CEO back into a good mood…and made us some money too.” Everyone laughed, and the passion came out.

We immediately took that passion and weaved a great story around it. We trained the company’s leadership on that message. We currently ensure that message resonated with all employees and across all PR/Mar/Ad/Social Media/Media platforms. Six months later the company was still energized, they increased their client base and saw a significant increase in morale and their bottom-line.

So when looking for a firm to help your business, remember these three things:

  1. PR/Marketing/Advertising are three different disciplines
  2. All three need storytelling to weave together seamlessly
  3. Find a firm with passion (and one who brings your company’s passion to life)

Food for Thought: Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recently posted in their Public Relations Tactics Magazine an article titled “PR uncorked: Marlow Daniel of Francis Ford Coppola Presents on wine and communications” which highlights the effectiveness of storytelling. A special thank you to our friend Tactics Managing Editor Amy Jacques for such an in-depth Q&A.