Corporate Communication

Kotler and Mindak (1978 – take note of that date) recognised five main models that describe how companies operate their Public Relations and Marketing departments. (You could also interpret these models as indicative of how a company’s structuring reveals its management’s perceptions of the two functions’ relative importance, similarity, and relatedness of the requisite skill sets).

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In communications terms, companies operating this model prioritize marketing or consider marketing to be the natural and functionally optimal environment for PR to operate inside. In other words, PR is operated as a function of marketing.

Notionally, for the anti-silo integration it implies, this model may appear positive. Indeed, for companies whose strategy is best served by allocation of resources to marketing and/or whose need for public relations is infrequent or challenging to justify through a cost-benefits analysis, this model could be superior to any other.

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In the second model, the two are still mostly separate in functional terms. However, a small proportion of the workload is describable as both PR and Marketing - a good example would be advertising, especially advertising as an element of a multi-channel campaign involving a celebrity.

This model indicates that management consider the two functions as generally separable. Only a small number of jobs require collaboration. Those jobs maybe regular, i.e. identifiable as a set category of jobs, but never constitute a quantity sufficient to dominate the workload of either function. The activities that require cross-functional working are so few and in commercial terms so trivial, all but this (and possibly the "Apart" model) are invalid. Thus, the separation of the two functions remains. The separation generates efficiencies that facilitate the company's strategy.

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Let’s begin with what I term the "Apart" or “Silo” model. This describes organisations in which public relations and marketing communications are regarded as separate, non-overlapping, discreet, and functionally distinct activities. In organisations that apply this model, “Public Relations” are probably handled by one team in one office; “Marketing” is the work of another team in another office. And never the twain shall meet.

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Maybe it is the unseen consequence of being the designated "writer". Maybe every foreigner is a de facto "translator". Maybe the company does not know who should be doing what. Maybe the company sees little value in labeling departments – as long as the work gets done. Maybe there is only one person in the whole company who can do communications competently. Whatever the reason, individuals who thought they were one kind of communicator can find themselves dabbling in a variety of communications work, inevitably with equally varied results.

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Abstract

The article The Communication Advantage: A Constituency-Focused Approach to Formulating and Implementing Strategy (Argenti and Forman, 2000) addresses the issue of how senior management can utilize communication practice to ensure strategy is implemented. It presents a systematic methodology for conveying plans and visions to relevant audiences (“significant constituencies”). Such a methodology is necessary since foregoing studies have demonstrated how organizations fail or succeed depending on how they transform a strategy on paper into concrete manifestation. Many earlier studies do not clarify the link between strategy and communication. Furthermore, they present communication strategy obliquely, not as a central focus, and concentrate instead on communication as an element of strategy. The article responds to this deficit by theorizing as follows:

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