General Assembly

The Time Is Now: Integrate Your PR and Marketing Strategies

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Public relations (PR) and marketing agencies used to be two entirely separate entities and disciplines. However, companies began to recognize that budgets can stretch further – and awareness can climb higher – when stories are told through a mix of earned, owned, paid and shared media. Ever since the lines between PR and marketing have blurred.
Generally speaking, it’s hard to execute a PR strategy without a little marketing and it’s difficult to market without executing some PR. As a PR major with a minor in marketing in college, I’m glad to see the two disciplines have become so interconnected. After all, with end goals so intertwined, it is challenging to separate the two.
Still, integrating PR and marketing into one strategy takes some work. The following four tips can help facilitate success.
Dive deeper into the business
Have you memorized your company’s key messages? Do you know its background, market position, and roadmap? Can you draft a quote for its spokesperson in your sleep?
That’s all fantastic.
But, when you’re integrating such useful PR information with marketing into a single strategy, it’s important to look closely at all areas of the company.
Learn how they sell their product by scheduling a product demo with the sales team. Meet with the product marketing team about upcoming developments. Ask the customer service team about the positive, and negative, feedback they receive. Talk to the SEO expert about website traffic.
Along the way, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
What does the sales cycle look like? What are the sales goals? How does the company generate prospects? Which product features pique the most interest? What is the product development team working on? What keywords are driving traffic to the company website?
All of this information will help you create a more holistic strategy.
Befriend buyer personas
It’s imperative to keep buyer personas in mind when creating an integrated strategy. These generalized representations of ideal customers can help you identify the right prospects and most profitable customers.
If they don’t exist, create buyer personas to understand the target preferences and habits that will inform your marketing strategies and messaging. As you do, ask yourself how prospects hear about your company and find you, what pain-points they have and challenges they face, where they go to learn how to solve problems, what goals they have.
All of this information should factor into buyer personas, and once developed, put them to use so you can become “best friends” with prospects. Make sure you refine your messaging and optimize your PR and marketing strategy accordingly in order to reach your target audiences with relevant information on the channels they use most.
Think of media in marketing terms
PR pros spend extensive hours trying to secure media coverage for clients that they can include in the next weekly email update or status call. Coverage is great, but it’s only valuable to the client if it’s supporting their marketing goals.
For example, will the story you’re after help drive revenue, customer acquisition or answer board and investor demands? Media relations should always play a strategic role in moving your clients’ business forward.
Be resourceful
If you find yourself wishing you understood even more about integrating marketing with your PR, or just want a better understanding of the jargon CMO’s use, there are tons of resources available. A few of my personal favorites include:

HubSpot: This is an incredible resource for anyone looking to learn more about marketing. The company’s blog does a tremendous job providing comprehensive marketing, sales and services advice. Whether you’re looking to stay up to date on the latest trends or working through a social media strategy, they offer it all.
HubSpot Academy: This is a great way to grasp specific, deep-dive topics such as email marketing, content development, sales enablement, SEO training and more. Through their Inbound Marketing course I was able to learn more about content creation, social media strategies and converting and nurturing leads. The course provided me with insights I’m able to leverage on a daily basis working through strategies with clients.
General Assembly: If you have the time (you should make the time), and the budget (some programs are free) check out General Assembly’s courses. They offer convenient programs in web development, digital marketing, product management and more. I completed their digital marketing bootcamp and learned a six step framework for developing digital marketing strategies for businesses and campaigns. Throughout the course, you’re given exercises to complete such as determining target audience, drafting key performance indicators and laying out an email campaign. You can’t help but walk away with fresh ideas.

North Korea says U.S. will face ‘serious consequences’ unless it agrees to joint investigation into Sony hackers

North Korea on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, warning of “serious” consequences if Washington rejects a probe that it believes would prove Pyongyang had nothing to do with the cyberattack.

The proposal was seen by analysts as a typical ploy by the North to try to show that it is sincere, even though it knows the U.S. would never accept its offer for a joint investigation.

U.S. officials blame North Korea for the hacking, citing the tools used in the Sony attack and previous hacks linked to the North, and have vowed to respond. The break-in resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files, and escalated to threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theaters that caused Sony to cancel the Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

On Saturday, an unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman in Pyongyang proposed the joint investigation with the U.S., saying the North knows how to prove it’s not responsible for the hacking. He also said Washington was slandering Pyongyang by spreading unfounded rumors.

“The U.S. should bear in mind that it will face serious consequences in case it rejects our proposal for joint investigation and presses for what it called countermeasures while finding fault with” North Korea, the spokesman said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA.

“We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture, as the CIA does,” he said, adding that the U.S. lacks any specific evidence tying North Korea to the hacking.

The White House had no immediate comment Saturday.

Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University, called the North’s proposal a “typical” tactic the country has taken in similar disputes with rival countries. In 2010, North Korea proposed a joint investigation after a South Korean-led international team concluded that the North was behind a torpedo attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors, though Pyongyang denied its involvement. South Korea rejected the North’s offer for the joint probe.

“They are now talking about a joint investigation because they think there is no conclusive evidence,” Koh said. “But the U.S. won’t accede to a joint investigation for the crime.”

On Friday, President Barack Obama declared that Sony “made a mistake” in shelving the satirical film about a plot to assassinate the North Korean leader, and pledged that the U.S. would respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the movie’s withdrawal.

“I wish they had spoken to me first. … We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship,” Obama said at a year-end news conference, speaking of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Sony said it had had no choice but to cancel distribution of the movie because theaters were refusing to show it.

U.S. options for acting against North Korea are limited. The U.S. already has severe trade sanctions in place, and there is no appetite for military action. Even if investigators could identify and prosecute the individual hackers believed responsible, there’s no guarantee that any located are overseas would ever see a U.S. courtroom. Hacking back at North Korean targets by U.S. government experts could encourage further attacks against American targets.

North Korea and the U.S. remain in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The rivals also are locked in an international standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile programs and its alleged human rights abuses.

Earlier Saturday, North Korea angrily denounced a move by the United Nations to bring its human rights record before the Security Council and renewed its threat to further bolster its nuclear deterrent against what it called a hostile policy by the U.S. to topple its ruling regime.

Pyongyang “vehemently and categorically rejects” the resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly that could open the door for its leaders, including Kim Jong-un, to be hauled before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, according to a Foreign Ministry statement carried by KCNA.

The Security Council is due to meet Monday to discuss Pyongyang’s human rights situation for the first time.

The meeting caps almost a year of international pressure, and even though ally China could use its veto power to block any action against the North, the nonbinding resolution has broad support in the General Assembly and has drawn unusually strong and vitriolic protests from Pyongyang.