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Take notice, the current philosophy of marketing is moving from the marketing concept where “customer is king” and shifting toward the interaction concept, where relationship is king, and the brand is owned by both the firm and the customer. In this segment of PRI’s To the Best of Our Knowledge, author of New York Times Magazine’s column, “Consumed,” Rob Walker discusses how word-of-mouth can support or radically change the meaning of a brand. This well illustrates how stories conveying reputation, relationship, experience, and symbolism define the value of a brand.
Become an MPR Fan on Facebook
There are a handful of high profile business and marketing people who capture the essence of Marketing Public Relations. Seth Godin is one of those people. This video is one of a handful of videos of Seth that will make you think about what we do. I suggest that connecting with “tribes” is what MPR is all about. He also discusses how tribes create stories about a company or product and spread them. This is the MPR notion of creating “brand authors.” Bravo Seth. Enjoy the video all.
It is not uncommon for me to be accosted by my colleagues who teach PR from a journalism or communications studies perspective arguing that I don’t take a three hundred and sixty degree view of public relations in my work. Obviously, I have to agree with this observation, and then I remind them that I call what I do marketing public relations. It is with great respect that I tip my hat to those who engage in government relations, investor relations, employee relations, community relations and the like. All of these disciplines use a similar set of tools and tactics to do what they do, but have different purposes within the organizations that they serve. The above terms are linked to some interesting resources if you’d like to explore them further. I’ve also posted some more to the Reading box of the blog.
Which one of the above categories is at work when politicians try to sell the voting public on a piece of legislation? Yep, it’s marketing. (Email me if you’d like to argue this point.) I bring this up because we are seeing some remarkable things happen as the Obama administration and the congressional majority attempt to gain public support for their healthcare legislation. What I find most fascinating is the fact that politicos have been forgoing press conferences for “town hall meetings.” They do this, presumably, to make their efforts look more authentic to the public at-large, and to remove themselves from the hard questions and potential bias of the media. This is a great idea, but we are seeing this strategy start to unravel as the opposition is making a concerted effort to crash the town hall meeting is a very vocal manner. These “disrupters” are starting to receive more press than the event or legislation itself. To illustrate, I’ve linked to related articles from CNN and Fox News. NPR’s On the Media radio show produced a story recently that discusses how right-of-center activists are co-opting tactics historically used by those left-of- center to “influence the political conversation” and get some publicity in doing so.
Is there a way that companies can use town hall style meetings to their benefit? How would they differ from a press conference or a focus group? What are the pros and cons of such an approach?
Can companies act as “disrupters” at political or commercial events to the benefit of their brands and sales? What companies might have better luck using this tactic? What are the potential positives and negatives of such an approach?
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Gaetan Giannini is an Assistant Professor and the Chair of the Department of Business, Management & Economics at Cedar Crest College. He is also the author of Marketing Public Relations (Pearson-Prentice Hall) and a speaks and writes frequently on sales and marketing topics.
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