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PR: Reputation games

PR has been long-standing in the marketing mix, but is it important or even effective? The medium has often been criticised as being immeasurable and many clients have not been able to justify the expenditure. However, if 'all publicity is good publicity', surely PR is an important marketing channel?

Bill Gates reputedly said, “If I had one buck left in the world, I would spend it on PR”. To Microsoft, PR is evidently important, but what exactly is it and how can it be utilised effectively in B2B?

According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations' (CIPR) definition, 'Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline that builds and maintains reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.' However, definitions of PR are sometimes hard to concrete. Patrick Barrow, MD of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) sees PR as a “clumsy term, because it is hard to define”. He comments, “The Harvard Business School school of thought is that all PR is behavioural. PR is all about reputation and reputation is the sum of behaviour and communication. It is about brand and brand value and is the propagation and protection of all these things.”