Public Relations and Marketing Schools
Public relations and marketing often make a great team to help boost a company's sales. Marketing largely uses advertising through commercial channels in order to stimulate sales. However, consumers are increasingly skeptical of such obviously paid-for efforts and businesses are often finding that their paid advertising is having a harder time breaking through all the other advertising clutter to reach consumers' top-of-mind consciousness.
Public relations, however, helps allow businesses to manage relevant information and what other people are saying about them by appealing to the media or other influencers. And if other influential people or media lend their own endorsement to a particular product, service, or business, that business can greatly increase its credibility, legitimacy, and, in turn, its sales. All without apparent direct involvement. Which is why public relations is a good element for the marketing mix but does not replace advertising. Advertising can be carefully controlled, but public relations less so. But public relations can do things that advertising can't normally do.
Apart from complementing carefully-controlled advertising efforts, good public relations can help marketers build grassroots marketing efforts and gain brand evangelists. These help marketers build invaluable word of mouth equity that can boost any brand.
Ethics in Marketing: When Does A Marketer Cross the Line?
Ethics in marketing refers to the practice of marketing your business in an ethical and morally sound way. It means deliberately applying standards of fairness in how you market and how you choose to portray your company to others. While the goal of any business is to be profitable, if a company has to use false advertisement, or deceptive or objectionable marketing tactics to achieve it, it's really not running an effective marketing campaign. Sure, there may be short term gain to be had in doing something unethical, but the loss of trust and respect in the marketplace, not to mention potential lawsuits, will eventually catch up to any business owner.
More importantly, a company that acts in an ethical manner will reap long-term rewards for their actions. They will build loyal customers, enjoy word of mouth referrals, and will be building a positive image in their prospects' mind about their business.
Of course, not everything is so cut and dry. While some issues seem pretty clear, there are other matters which are really more of a slippery slope. Marketers have to be very aware of things that may be deemed cutting edge or buzz worthy, and those that may seen as offensive or deceptive.
Here are the three main areas where a business owner must carefully consider their actions.
Deceptive Marketing Practices: This can encompass everything from misleading information on what the product really does to things like paid celebrity endorsers who have never actually used the product. One extremely grey area is what companies promise in their sales material. There is a fine line between showing your product in the best light possible and over promising on the results. Selling the sizzle is fine, after all that's what copywriting is all about. However, there must be some substance behind the sizzle, and an accurate representation of what the customer can expect.
Another deceptive practice is deceptive pricing. This could be any number of things, from providing misleading sales prices, omitting important conditions of the sale, or presenting a misleading introductory offer. For instance, pushing customers into forced continuity programs is considered unethical. This is where a person gets something for free, usually with just a small shipping and handling charge, but doesn't realize that they've also signed up for an ongoing, fee-based program.
Offensive Marketing Tactics: Many marketers try to get creative in their advertising campaigns. There's nothing wrong with this, provided a company has looked to see if the campaign might be considered offensive. While it's true that you can't please everyone, there is a general consensus among marketers that some things should usually be avoided. For instance, overtly sexual advertising, stereotyping of races or gender, and aggressive, high pressure selling methods are usually never effective and often leave people with a bad impression of a business.
Most business owners are ethical people trying to run an honest business. Most deceptive or offensive practices are simply mistakes and aren't intentionally meant to hurt anyone. They're simply a result of an idea not given enough thought, an over zealous marketing campaign, or a misunderstanding of what should be included in marketing pieces. By keeping these tips in mind, you can save yourself an embarrassing, and potentially costly, mistake down the road.