Monday, September 19, 2011

Misunderstanding MarCom - a Beginner's (and Veteran's) Guide

MarCom: probably the most MISUNDERSTOOD and abused buzz-word in the (new) English language. A decade or two back, it used to be "Pee-Arrr". And here's the reason - very, very few people in Commerce, Industry, High-tech, the professions - unless they are MARKETING COMMUNICATION (without the "s" please) professionals understand exactly what these terms mean. So, dear and constant reader, I will endeavour (note my ENGLISH SPELLING PLEASE...) to enlighten you.
First, why was the term "PR" misunderstood in the eighties? PR stands for Public Relations - it can stand for Press Release, but this is not its primary definition. Public relations is the art and practice of structuring attitudes, changing opinions, and shaping public views about a particular subject, policy or product to ensure general acceptance among the appropriate target audience. Acceptance can (and should) be translated into SALES...and sales can mean anything from actually selling a product or service, to gaining adherents to a political, religious or public platform, the support for a team or individual, through to just acceptance and understanding of a specific situation. This is achieved through a professional, planned and determined effort to get a specific message across: the media is largely used - and today there is a myriad of media opportunities - but there are other ways and means of achieving the predetermined objectives. So that's (loosely) what PR is - here's what it's not: a pretty young lady (or a hulky young man) peddling a product or demo at a trade show or exhibition - ah - wait, that can be PART of an overall PR effort, but the pretty young lady (or hulky young guy) CANNOT and SHOULD not be allowed to call themselves "Pee-arrs". That was then - but it persists today in the attitudes towards and understanding of MarCom. MarCom is perceived as the function of getting things together for a trade show; it is perceived as sending material to the printer and making sure it is delivered; it is considered to be the organizing of functions and events, more often just chasing up suppliers and making sure the invitations have been sent out.
HOLD, I hear you protest, isn't that what "MarComs" do? NO - firstly, there is no such thing as a "MarCom" - there can be Marketing Communication assistants, even Marketing Communication practitioners, managers or directors and I'll even allow you to use the term MarCom as a prefix to "...executive, manager, director etc." But,and here's the rub, Marketing Communication DEMANDS that the exec or practitioner is at a sufficiently high level in the organization to participate in product/service policy making; to help set goals and objectives for the Marketing Department - wait, isn't this the same thing? Oh ho no, he replied - Marketing is the discipline and practice of researching, developing, understanding, creating and taking a product/service to market: Marketing Communication, is the discipline and act of COMMUNICATING WHY that product deserves to be there in the first place. Of understanding target markets and attitudes, of developing positioning, vision and mission statements, messages etc etc. N o-o-o-o it is NOT advertising - that's just part of it. It is the entire package which accompanies that product on its journey from concept, through production, to sales and distribution and eventually to the shelves, or public platforms or voting booths of the nation...
Why, you may well ask, am I getting so hot under the collar about this subject? It's a simple answer actually. A week ago, I spoke to somebody who was trying to get some courses and seminars together. When I proposed putting together my course of Marketing and Corporate Communication, he stopped me in mid-flow and said: "Nobody wants MarCom anymore - they are only into SocialNetworking..." And that got my blood boiling . This person, who should know better, through this one statement, has demonstrated that he has absolutely NO understanding whatsoever of what MarCom (TRUE MarCom) is all about. Social Networking is only another tool in the MarCom work-box...a powerful tool, no doubt, but still just a tool. As are web sites, brochures, advertising, PR (REAL PR), public appearances, exhibitions, movies and the entire panoply of media and communication tools.
Now, perhaps, you understand what I'm on about. If you still don't get it, then you need my course! I'll be happy to put it together.

No comments: