Similarities Between Public Relations and Marketing

Public Relations as a Marketing Tool - Strategic Approaches and Definitions of Terms

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Problem
1.2 Formulation of objectives
1.3 Course of the investigation

2. Historical basics and definitions of terms
2.1 History of Public Relations
2.2 Definition / meaning of public relations
2.3 Basics, tasks and functions of
2.4 Public Relations

3. Excursus: Public Relations versus "Public Relations"
3.1 Importance of PR and misinterpretation
3.2 Differentiation from advertising

4. Different theoretical approaches to PR
4.1 Hundhausen's theory
4.2 Theory of Oekl
4.3 Grunig / Hunt theory
4.4 Theory of Ronneberger and Rühl
4.5 Kotler / Armstrong / Saunders / Wong theory
4.6 Plaum and Linxweiler theory

5. Public relations as an information and communication tool

6. Public relations as a strategic tool for image building
6.1 Basics of media work
6.2 Public Relations Strategies
6.3 Public Relations and Propaganda

7. Public Relations and Ethics

8. Summary

9. Appendix
- Bibliography
- List of figures

Public relations as a marketing tool. Strategic approaches and definitions of terms. Author: Otto Gantert, Berlin. Publisher: EURACA European Academy - EURACA Instituto Superior de Educación a Distancia SL Malaga / St. Gallen -

1 Introduction

1.1 Problem

Public relations is becoming more and more important for both privately organized companies[1] as well as for associations, political parties and organizations of all kinds. This statement is mainly based on the empirically ascertainable phenomenon that the need for public relations, as well as the need for skilled employees in this area, has risen sharply and steadily. The more an organization recognizes the contact and exchange with the public as necessary, the more important public relations becomes as a communication and marketing instrument.[2]

If one proceeds from the classic marketing term, it is understood to mean a far-reaching departure from the earlier principle of “producing and selling”.

Modern marketing strategists generally hold the opinion that all operational actions must be based on the wishes of the consumers of the products produced[3], which is why the thesis can also be put forward in a reductionist manner: Marketing is the orientation of an institution and its activities on the targeted market.[4]

Within this conceptual construct, however, two essential questions arise:[5]

- What is meant by market?
- How does the concept of communication arise?

within marketing?

If the first question within the scope of this investigation only represents a partial aspect of the topic, the second question has moved to the core of the problem. As long as marketing primarily aligns business activities with the sales market, on the communicative level it is only a matter of communicating with the sales market. If public relations are only defined as an element of such a defined communication policy, then they too only have a sales-supporting effect and should therefore be summarized under the term “product PR”, as it were, as “icing on advertising”.[6]

Practice has shown that this form of PR does not bring the success that it was promised.[7] This form of organization cannot do justice to the actual demands of PR, the design of the corporate image in public or a positioning of the organization on the market and the communication landscape. For contemporary PR, the primary objectives are no longer just sales and earnings, but to a much greater extent the creation of trust, understanding and credibility.

Albert Oekl[8] reduced this requirement to the definition:

PR = information + adaptation + integration

It is here, however, that the theoretical problems begin to turn into practical ones. How are these assumptions, theories and definitions implemented? Where and how can your own PR department start to change the image of the company in public in such a way that the success is also reflected in the company's earnings?

1.2 Goal formulation (subject of the thesis)

Today's economy no longer requires companies to simply produce and sell goods. The ever stronger and more diverse competition makes it necessary to use arguments to convince the consumer not to buy the competitor's product. Marketing in the company must therefore reorient itself from a pure advertising strategy to a communication strategy.

The same applies to any other form of enterprise, such as associations, parties, etc. It is not enough to present soulless statutes, party programs or awkward candidates to people; these must also be "conveyed".

For the positive positioning of a company or a person in public, the communication channels must be used professionally. Particularly for strategic marketing, special requirements are placed on long-term and goal-oriented action. The communication of a positive public image of the company can only be achieved through the permanent use of special marketing and PR strategies.

The already defined goal of trust, understanding and credibility[9] in the public can be achieved through the methodical use of public relations, but only if they are put into strategically considered and permanent use.

This thesis tries to lay a foundation for the design of public relations in companies. Above all, the different theories in the literature are to be discussed and different possibilities for different requirements and cases to be shown. Even if there are certain similarities to marketing, the same instruments do not always have to be used. This will have to be discussed in more detail later.

1.3 Course of the investigation

Following this introduction (Chapter 1), definitions of terms will be made in Chapter 2 of this thesis. In the sub-items there, the basics of modern public relations are to be examined from different perspectives.

In Chapter 3, the definition of public relations is sharpened on the basis of misinterpretations and a differentiation from advertising.

Chapter 4 of this thesis discusses the various theories in the literature on public relations.

Chapter 5 then describes public relations in practical application. The various information and communication instruments are presented here.

Chapter 6 puts the various components of public relations worked out above in relation to strategic marketing. The practical applications of public relations will be in the foreground, as in the previous chapter.

Chapter 7 shows the ethical limits within the topic area discussed. Here, however, positive possibilities that arise from ethics should also be brought into focus.

Chapter 8 briefly summarizes the important aspects of the topic.

2. Historical basics and definitions of terms

2.1 History of Public Relations

If you look at the historical development of public relations and the PR job description, it is noticeable that the situation in the German PR industry changed fundamentally several times after the Second World War.[10] Immediately after the war, journalists, nobles and former officers dominated the industry.[11] The PR specialists of the time did not consider a theoretical analysis and definition of public relations to be necessary. Rather, Friedrich the Great, Napoleon, Rommel and Montgomery served as role models for the German "founding generation" of PR.[12] It was not until the beginning of the 1950s that the first specialist books appeared in German and it was not until 1958 that the professional association was established DPRG founded.[13] Bruhn and Zimmermann[14] described the 1950s as the "phase of unsystematic communication".

In the mid-1960s, the image of public relations in Germany changed completely. The public increasingly developed a critical interest in the companies. This development placed new demands on the communication skills of companies, organizations, associations and parties. At the same time, German company management began to increasingly follow the US model and to adapt management methods there. The technical training of PR professionals played an increasingly important role. Public relations became a management tool.[15] The public relations management function developed its own profile and communication policy was incorporated into the general corporate philosophy.[16]

The question: “What kind of people are they and what should I tell them?” Replaced the question “How do I say it?”.[17]

Towards the end of the 1970s, the phase of scientification of public relations began.[18] The first generation of university professors like Hundhausen, Oeckel and Ronneberger set out to scientifically investigate public relations. But a Babylonian confusion regarding the phenomenon “PR” still prevails today, in the new millennium. There is still no clear and indisputable scientific definition.[19]

The conditions in the PR industry in the 80s were characterized by an ambivalence.[20] On the one hand, the industry had to struggle with a generation problem and, on the other hand, a change was gradually emerging in the German PR landscape.[21] In addition to more recent perspectives on public relations, old and traditional approaches were still represented, which asserted themselves in structures that had emerged in the 1950s.

Since the beginning of the 90s of the last century and at the beginning of the new century, public relations were faced with completely changed social structures. This was triggered by the change in values, the upheavals that triggered the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the development of the information society, globalization, the dramatic influence of the media, increasing environmental pollution and attempts to introduce new management structures and methods to companies to adapt to the new “market conditions”.[22]

The professional profile of the public relations specialist is changing increasingly. The change in this industry towards communication management has far-reaching consequences. The actual tasks and requirements as well as the social and political environment have expanded and specialized.

A PR concept is now much more extensive and complex than it was in the last century.[23] As a corporate management tool, public relations are now proactive, dynamic and strategic. They are integrated into a comprehensive management structure.

Public relations measures are to be coordinated with departments of the companies and organizations,[24] in industry especially with the marketing department, in politics with the top management.

The changed environment for PR is briefly outlined in Fig. 1 (next page).

Figure not included in this excerpt

Fig. 1: Society in transition - changed environment for public relations[25]

2.2 Definition / meaning of public relations

More than 2000 different definitions of the term “public relations” give an idea of ​​how difficult it is for theorists and, to the same extent, “specialists” in public relations to precisely describe their specialty areas.[26]

The practitioners, who come from a wide variety of specialist fields, usually define their own conception of public relations as a function of their respective professional background.[27] By the 1980s, five approaches to understanding public relations emerged[28]:

- The advertising management approach
- The business approach
- The management approach
- The social science approach
- The political approach

According to Lewald, this has resulted[29] developed a new understanding of PR that is not compatible with any of the above approaches alone.

If the term is literally translated into German, the term initially means nothing more than “the relationship with the public”.[30] This simple translation, however, hides the difficulty of finding a generally applicable definition. Despite or precisely because of the more than 2000 different explanatory approaches that have so far been published in the scientific literature, Dees / Döbler believe that there is a margin of discretion in the definition of public relations, also in the specification of the task.[31]

Signitzer's[32] Long and Hazelton’s definition, labeled “the most intellectually and analytically demanding description of public relations”, primarily emphasizes the communication function of management:

"Public Relations is a communication function of management through which organizations adapt to, alter, or maintain their environment for the purpose of achieving organizational goals."[33]

The focus here is clearly on the orientation towards private-economic organizations. The definition of the DPRG is emphasized as an important definition, especially for the German-speaking area. In terms of content, it is with the "lean definition"[34] von Grunig and Hunt are identical in the Anglo-Saxon-speaking area:

"Public relations is the management of communication processes for organizations with their reference groups"

According to Grunig and Hunt, public relations as a communication-relevant dimension of corporate management is the part of the central management system that has the task of integrating, coordinating and controlling the company's sub-systems.[35] In this context, PR activities play a “boundary role” in the system-environment constellation between the company and the public. The PR activity thus implies a permanent crossing of the boundary between the organization and its environment, as well as between the internal sub-systems.[36]

Cutlip, Center and Broom[37] understand public relations as a management function, but their definition has a normative character due to the functional description:

"Public Relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the publics on whom is success or failure depends."

What is noticeable here is that there is no talk of communication.

The authors mentioned express that communication is only one tool in the mutual relationship and exchange network between the organization and its various environments: “Environmental scanning, issues management, program monitoring, and impact evaluation are all tasks as central to the function as is communication through the media. "[38] In order to be able to do justice to this management function, Cutlip, Center and Broom for Public Relations demand participation in corporate management.

All of the definitions mentioned have two points in common: On the one hand, public relations is related to management and, on the other hand, it is seen as a system-environment relationship. If you understand companies like Luhman[39] As social systems that consist of communication and its attribution as an action, this leads to a very broad understanding of communication, which can be brought into congruence with the definition of cutlip, center and broom. Communication as a directly unobservable unit of information, communication and understanding can only be inferred through actions.[40]

The reduction of public relations to the industrial area is completely inadmissible. Public relations are no less important for other organizations (e.g. associations and parties) and certain people (e.g. politicians, top athletes and show stars). For the last group, successful public relations are often career-critical.

It can therefore be stated that a clear definition or definition of public relations based on the scientific literature is not possible.

2.3 Basics, tasks and functions of public relations

If public relations is understood as communication management, then the demand for a high level of professionalization in the PR professions goes hand in hand. "Public Relations is a profession in transition," begin Baskin and Aronoff[41] their standard work "Public Relations - The Profession and The Practice" and already in the title express the difference between PR practice and the desired profession. Public Relations is a multidisciplinary subject and receives impulses from various social sciences.[42] Public relations, on the other hand, seems to be a long way from interdisciplinary integration. The term “interdisciplinary” therefore leaves the question of the disciplinary ties of public relations largely open.In contrast, there is broad agreement on the anchoring of public relations in the social sciences.[43]

To this extent, public relations are to be understood as an instrument used by corporate management to differentiate the social system. A clearly defined corporate identity takes into account the values, goals and strategies of a company. The task of public relations is to convey this to the public.

PR tasks are:[44]

- To structure the environment of a company and to identify the relevant system - reference, interest and stakeholder groups.
- To observe the information, statements, claims and actions of the systems recognized as relevant and to select them with regard to their importance for the company.
- To put the data recognized as relevant in relation to the existing data and to make it accessible to the management of the company.
- To participate in the interpretation of the data recognized as relevant and in the decisions based on them.[45]
- To present and comment on the identity and the services of the company in relation to other systems of the company (corporate identity)[46]in order to ensure the acceptance of one's own by the other systems. The various systems have different views of what is useful and important with regard to the design of the overall system.

The entire process described is to be understood as a cybernetic model that focuses on the regulation of the company system.

The aim is to achieve the target value that is to be aimed for as a permanent system effect. This target value is to be defined as the corporate identity and compared with the results of the regularly repeated analysis of the business environment.[47] The target and actual values ​​of a system must be largely congruent if the system is to be stable.[48]

This makes it clear that a management approach based on system theory for strategic PR or corporate communication[49] must be based on an abstract determination of what the environment in which a company stands and what is to be understood by the identity, the target value of a company, must take place. Neither the planning nor the control of the PR can be started without the definition of the relevant environment of the company.

Caprices and Dozier[50] developed an empirically based model according to which the PR manager is to be understood as a mediator between the environment (public) and the organization. According to this model, the environmental factors have an influence on how the PR function is organized. The control of the PR manager is to be seen as the missing link between the challenges of the environment and its consequences for the organization of the PR function.[51]

The extent of environmental uncertainty is determined on the one hand by the scope of a change in environmental events and on the other hand by the frequency of changes.[52] An increase in the development of these two environmental dimensions has a positive influence on the performance of the managerial role.

The more threatening an environmental event is for the organization and the more frequently it occurs, the more likely PR will be understood as PR management in an organization.[53] Environmental uncertainties call for a PR manager with the corresponding power for the PR function.

Within the organization, the exercise of the managerial role is negatively correlated both with encroachment and with an expansion of marketing into the PR domain.

A missing or unprofessionally executed manager role facilitates encroachment and makes it more likely that marketing will take on PR responsibility.

Encroachment and the expansion of marketing in the sense of Kotler's “megamarketing”, on the other hand, are positively related to one another. Increasing encroachment facilitates the expansion efforts of the marketing area. Conversely, power-grabbing marketing increases the likelihood of encroachment.


[1] Dees, M. / Döbler, Th .: Public Relations as a Task for Managers ?, Understanding of Roles - Professionalization - Feminization, An empirical study, Stuttgart, 1997, p. 13

[2] see ibid.

[3] Bogner, F .: The new PR thinking, strategies - concepts - measures - case studies of efficient public relations, Vienna, Ueberreuter, 1990, p. 23

[4] ibid.

[5] see Bogner, F, loc. cit., p. 24

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid., p. 25.

[8] This relationship is discussed in more detail in Section 4.2.

[9] See section 1.1 of this thesis.

[10] Ronneberger, F. / Rühl, M .: Theory of Public Relations. A draft, Opladen 1992, p. 162ff.

[11] Brauer, G .: ECON Public Relations Manual, Düsseldorf, Vienna, New York, Moscow, 1993, p. 45.

[12] see Dees, M. / Döbler, Th., loc. cit., p. 17.

[13] see Brauer, G., ibid.

[14] Bruhn, M. / Zimmermann, A .: Integrated communication work in German companies. Results of a company survey, in: Efficient communication management, Bruhn / Dahlhoff (Hrsg.), Stuttgart, 1993, p. 147f.

[15] See Dees, M. / Döbler, Th., loc. cit., p. 18.

[16] Togotzes, J .: The future of PR from the point of view of an international communications agency, in: A look into the future. Communication management. Perspectives and opportunities in public relations, Dörrbecker, K. / Rommers-kirchen, T. (Ed.), Remagen-Rolandseck, 1990, p. 206.

[17] ibid.

[18] see Brauer, G., op. cit., p. 48.

[19] Even the usual German definition of “public relations” is extremely problematic.

[20] see Dees, M. / Döbler, Th., ibid.

[21] Jarchow, K .: Realities, Truths, Perceptions, Bremen, 1992, p. 17.

[22] Oeckl, A .: The future of public relations from the point of view of the PR pioneer, in: A look into the future. Communication management. Perspectives and chances of public relations, Dörrbecker, K. / Rommerskirchen, T. (Ed.), Remagen-Rolandseck, 1990, p. 19ff.

[23] cf. Borghs, H.P .: Entrepreneurial requirements for the public relations of tomorrow. A perspective of Adam Opel AG, see note 21, 1990, p. 82ff.

[24] see Bruhn, p.147f.

[25] see Dees, M. / Döbler, Th., loc. cit., p. 19

[26] Beger, R. / Gärtner, H.-D. / Mathes, R .: corporate communication. Basics, strategies, instruments, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, 1989, p. 25.

[27] Oeckel, A .: Public Relations - Politics, Düsseldorf, 1981, p. 12f.

[28] Lewald, G .: Sociopolitically oriented corporate communication. Draft of a management approach based on system theory, Diss., Münster, 1994, p. 7.

[29] ibid.

[30] Köcher, A. C. / Birchmeier, E .: Public Relations? Public relations! Concepts, instruments and examples for successful corporate communication, Zurich, Cologne, 1992, p. 12.

[31] see Dees / Döbler, op. cit., p. 25.

[32] Signitzer, B .: Overview of Public Relations Research. Attempts to systematize on the basis of new American studies, in: Publizistik, 33rd Jg., No. 1, 1988, p. 96.

[33] Long. L. W / Hazalton, V .: Public relations. A theoretical and practical response, in: Public Relations Review, 13th vol., No. 2, 1987, p. 6.

[34] see Signitzer, op.

[35] Stuiber, H. W .: Theoretical approaches for public relations. Comments from a social science perspective, in: Is public relations a science? An introduction, Avenarius, H. / Armbrecht, W. (Ed.), Opladen, 1992, p. 214.

[36] Köcher, A. C .: Management of Public Relations. An integral concept. Based on an empirical study at Swiss public companies, Diss., St. Gallen, 1991, p. 181.

[37] Cutlip, S.M. / Center, A. H. / Broom, G.M .: Effective public Relations, 7th ed., Engelwood Cliffs, 1994, p. 6.

[38] Dozier, D.M. / Broom, G.M .: Evolution of the manager role in public relations practice, in: Journal of Public Relations Research, 7th year, no. 1, 1995, p. 5.

[39] Luhmann, N .: Social Systems. Outline of a general theory, Frankfurt / M., 1984, p. 240.

[40] ibid., p. 193ff.

[41] Baskin, O. / Annoff, C .: Public Relations. The profession and the practice, 2nd ed., Dubuque, 1988.

[42] see Ronneberger / Rühl, loc. cit., pp. 53 - 80.

[43] Bentele, G .: Future prospects for public relations, in: Handbuch PR, Schulze-Fürstenow, G. / Martini, H.-J. (Ed.), 2nd edition, Neuwied, 1994, p. 8.

[44] see Lewald, op. cit., p. 57.

[45] cf. Borghs, H.P .: Classification of public relations in the company structure, in: Public relations and advertising. Instruments. Strategies. Perspectives, Kalt (Ed.), Frankfurt / M., 1991, p. 43ff.

[46] see Bruhn, M .: Integrated corporate communication. Starting points for a strategic and operational implementation of integrated communication work, Stuttgart, 1992, p. 31.

[47] see Lewald, op. cit., p. 59.

[48] ibid.

[49] It should be noted here that the functions of systems theory coincide with the requirements of strategic planning processes.

[50] Launzen, M.M. / Dozier, D.M .: The missing link. The public relations manager role as mediator of organizational environments and power consequences for the function, in: Journal of Public Relations Research, 4th year, no. 4, 1992, p. 205.

[51] see ibid.

[52] see Launzen / Dozier, op. cit., p. 213.

[53] see ibid., p. 215.

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