Marketing versus Communications

From time to time practioners in the field of marketing and communication are at lager heads and confusion reigns so the following may be helpful.

Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. (Chartered Institute of Marketing)

Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals. (American Marketing Association)

Public relations is a strategic management function that adds value to an organization by helping it to manage its reputation. (Chartered Institute of Public Relations)

Once you cut through the business jargon that shrouds these definitions, what’s left?

Marketing has at its core a desire to reach consumers and make them think, believe or do what you want. Public relations is more focused on influencing reputation, whether corporate or personal. It makes the marketer’s job easier, while marketing activity affects a company’s reputation.

If you ever want to infuriate a public relations professional, suggest that public relations is part of marketing.

While the PR function in a company is often managed within a broader marketing division, this is usually for logistic management reasons rather than because PR skills are a subset of marketing skills.

Those organizations that have the most effective communications are those that don’t get hung up on what’s marketing and what’s public relations.

Instead they focus on choosing the most appropriate tool for delivering their objectives, regardless of which toolbox it comes from.

Here is the quote found on page 328 of the Andreasen and Kotler 6th edition Strategic Marketing for Non Profit Organizations

“The public relations function can be accorded high or low influence in the organization, depending on the board’s and chief executive’s attitude toward the function. In some organizations, the public relations manager is a vice president and sits on all meetings involving information and actions that might affect public perceptions of the organization. He or she not only puts out fires but also counsels management on actions that will avoid starting fires. In other organizations, public relations is a middle-management function charged with getting out publications and handling news, the annual report and special events, The public relations people are not involved in policy and strategy formulation, only in tactics.”

“Campaign –level P.R. efforts are typically structured in one of two ways. In some organizations, the public relations function or department has staffers who are assigned to particular campaigns and serve to advance their strategies. If the organization believes the campaign managers should have all the tools needed to carry out their objectives , the campaign hires their own PR person or a person from the PR Department will be assigned to the campaign on a full time , long term, basis.”

“There is a third approach to structuring the PR / Communications function, i.e., to put it within the marketing area. A major challenge to the chief administrators and board from time to time, is deciding what should be the relationship between marketing and public relations in a nonprofit organization. Clearly the two functions work well together in commercial firms with marketing focusing on the development of plans to market the company’s products and services to consumers, while public relations takes care or relations with other publics.. In Non-profit organizations, however, the relationship between the PR and marketing departments has often been marked by tension and lack of clearly defined areas of responsibility. This is because of the important role of PR at the campaign level. Many marketing efforts simply cannot succeed without powerful marketing efforts!”

“The tension is often an historical artifact. In many institutions the PR function was already established when marketing was introduced. Friction between the two areas subsequently arose, first because the marketing department was often assigned functions that were “taken away” from public relations. First, they did their media relations and events. Second, public relations directors often felt that they should have been given the better paying new position of marketing director when it was created. Third, many PR executives felt that marketing ought to be a division within their departments or that marketing as a separate function was not needed at all.”

“These frictions were often exacerbated by the lack of clearly specified separate roles for the two functions and a clear understanding of how they should be coordinated by each other. Our own view is that there is a need for an organization-level PR function but the campaign-level functions should be under the control of the marketing people because of the crucial role it must play in most campaigns. Indeed, when nonprofit organizations hire advertising and public relations organizations to help with the campaigns, they often specifically seek organizations that have both advertising and public relations capabilities.”

One of the key issues is with the web.  The web function in most public sector organizations are managed by Communications folks , however where it becomes a problem ( and we find this with many of our clients) is when the marketing function of an organization involved in revenue generation and or cost recovery activities want to use the web as part of a marketing strategy. The Communications function tends to control the web and are the  “gate keepers of the Internet”. The Communications function sees the web as a vehicle to provide information as well as enhance the image of the organization while the marketing folks want to use the web as an e-commerce / e-marketing function and are prohibited from carrying out this important commercial function because the Communications folks have the final say on what appears on the web.

Government needs to rethink how to recruit young people

According to a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen Canada’s youth are as interested in saving the world and serving the “public interest” as any generation before them, but they don’t connect with a slow, stodgy federal government symbolized by a “bunch of old, grey-haired white guys,”

Max Valiquette, president of the Toronto-based research and marketing firm Youthography, told a packed hall of senior federal executives recently the government is so “behind the eight ball” in its bid to attract youth that it’s time the public service, not the government, started selling “what you do, not what you are.”

“It’s not just about the brand of the federal government, it’s about the idea of public service,” he told several hundred executives at the APEX annual conference in Ottawa . “NGOs are more popular than ever before. More young people are going abroad to Africa or whatever … to serve what they view as the public trust. Why can’t this happen with CIDA or DFAIT?”

He states that they have many strikes against it. It’s a big, slow, rules-bound hierarchy, and it’s not going to attract anyone with the pay. Young people don’t connect to government and can’t fathom many departments would actually forbid employees from using Facebook, “the most important networking technology in their lives” at work. They expect to have control over their lives, rather than work under the thumb of top-down government.

As some one who has been teaching 3rd and 4th year university business students for close to 20 years  and have spent over 25 years marketing to youth , I feel that the actions taken on forbidding using social media is the dumbest move I have seen  in 25 years. While private sector corporations encourage their staff to be on-line and use social media the government bans them. How out of touch can you be? As I mentioned in previous blogs  government are slow to innovate in the technology area which discourages from young bright lights at university and colleges not joining the public service. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard  students tell me how backward government is in adopting technology to work processes. The refrain I constantly hear is that they are in “the stone ages”. Why would a smart young university student want to join an antiquated organization who not only uses social media but bans their staff from using it. What impact do you think that this has on branding the federal government who are desperately trying to recruit young blood.

For example the government just recruited 3000 students , I would love to see research done on how many stay after 5 years and if they do how do they feel about working in government.

The recruitment of young people is a key priority of the federal government as part of its “public service renewal strategy.” Mr. Valiquette argued that youth need to connect with the government like they do any brand, but they don’t see themselves in the face of politics dominated by middle-aged men. Valiquette  has to work on its brand and target youth much earlier so they will be attracted to work in the government.

According to Valiquette, today’s youth are growing up faster, but taking longer to settle into adulthood. They live at home longer, stay in school longer and start families later. They value relationships, communication, information, diversity and empowerment, and technology knits it all together for them. With the Internet and digital technology, today’s youth have created seismic changes in how society creates, consumes and manages culture and communications, from Google to Napster, MySpace and Facebook … all created by 20-somethings.

This control of content and culture means young people challenge the top-down hierarchies such as government, education and even religion, Mr. Valiquette said. He argued government has to change its “master brand.” Young people won’t respond to a campaign that sounds like a government advertisement, but will respond to a campaign that shows what it does.

I feel that if the government wants to recruit young people they should use the media of young people but how could they when they have no credibility in using the media because they ban its use in government.

Valiquette states the government should do a survey of its young workers, past and present, and new hires to find out what works and what doesn’t. He argued the government should be more “flexible,” from work policies and dress to language requirements. He warned that the government’s bilingualism policy was deterring many young people. (clearly this policy has to be updated… if anyone has noticed the population of Canada has changed significantly in the past decade)

“Young people have redefined the music store, the search tool, and the social network. They had the Walkman, the television and the credit card redefined for them because they wanted it. So what’s next for the public service? Will it change or will it be changed?” Mr. Valiquette said.

I can tell Max that the government may change as they will not have choice but that will only happen if their is some leadership in the federal government. It needs to start from the top and work its way down the system

Here are a few things government can do if they want to be in touch with young people

1.Instead of banning social media, encourage its use especially when communicating with youth. Lose the print material and the static and bureaucratic web sites. To find out how best use social media in marketing go to

Also check out my colleague Mike Kujawski”s  blog

2. Stop those useless dog and pony shows/displays that government uses to encourage students to join the government… they are hokey and the people who tend to do these in my experience do more harm than good as they can rarely questions students ask. They are loaded with unwanted print material ( students want their info on-line) Better to use social media marketing techniques.

3. When students send an application to join the public service their application goes into a ” black hole” and the vast majority never hear anything. Surely we an improve the administration of these applications.


What do you think. feel free to comment on my blog.  


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When Communications Campaigns are labelled Social Marketing Campaigns… you set up yourself for failure

I recently saw a social marketing list serve comment that caught my eye. Some one on the social marketing list serve had asked for examples of social marketing campaigns that have not been successful. As can be expected a number of people sent examples , some quite old that have not been successful but finally Elyse Levine from AED made a very important  point . Here is what she said

“I’m glad Bob brought up the Barrow & Biersteker article as an example of “when we get it wrong.” It’s a good account of how plans for developing an intervention get compromised (no time for formative research) and how plans for an evaluation get detoured (by the priorities of practitioners, among other things). We can all empathize with these challenges, and we appreciate when they get published and added to the discussion. But beyond this, what many of my colleagues found curious was that it was called a social marketing campaign. When the intervention is limited to ads, posters, web banners, and palm cards, i.e. when it touches only promotion from the 4 P’s, it is more correctly called a communications campaign. It seems what went wrong were expectations that a communications campaign without other interventions can change behaviors. More reasonable expectations from communications are to change awareness, increase knowledge and perceived risk! (which were demonstrated to some degree in the findings). When such efforts are labeled as social marketing campaigns and expected to achieve unrealistic outcomes, we set ourselves up for failure. “

One of the things we constantly see at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing are communications campaigns masquerading as social marketing campaigns.

In order to address this problem  the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing developed a social marketing workshop and work book Social Marketing Plan in ONE DAY workshop designed not only for social marketers, but for all those involved in the planning of marketing strategies. It is very relevant to those responsible for efforts focused on influencing attitudes and behaviours that will improve health, prevent injuries, protect the environment, improve money management practices, prepare citizens for emergencies, convince youth to stay in school, and a multitude of today’s issues. It also offers a solution to those looking to acquire value-added skills to improve their expertise in strategic marketing planning.

The workshop takes you through a proven planning process to develop a customized, structured social marketing plan for your organization. It will show you how you can develop a comprehensive social marketing plan on your own, resulting in an ability to implement your initiative immediately.

The information and tools you will acquire through this workshop will not only help you achieve your organization’s social marketing outcomes, but help increase the overall credibility of social marketing through the application of proven marketing concepts and processes.

This workbook has been designed to provide you with an end-to-end planning tool that lays the groundwork for a successful social marketing program. While there are many variations in the processes that can be used for developing a social marketing plan, the workbook is based on more than 30 years of direct experience in the social marketing arena, and will serve as a useful tool for marketing professionals that want a structured program that encourages critical thinking and action in key strategic areas. All examples used in this workbook are campaigns that we have  personally worked on.

For more information on the workbook and workshops go to


Marketing to Canadians of South Asian and Chinese Origin… a hot trend

One of the most difficult audiences for public sector marketers to reach are Canadians of South Asian and Chinese origin. A recent study by Solutions Research Group’s Diversity in Canada 2 study indicated that this group is accessible but you need to do your homework.

Here are some of the key facts from this study :

The 2006 Census enumerated nearly 2.5 million (2,479,500) individuals who identified themselves as South Asian or Chinese, representing a growth rate of 27% over 2001. This rate of growth was five times faster than the 5.4% increase for the Canadian population as a whole in the same period.

Two of the fastest-growing Canadian population segments are also among the most wired with 88% PC penetration in the household (above the Canadian general population average of 83%)

Canadian Chinese Consumers

Internet use is significantly above average among Mandarin-speaking recent immigrants from Mainland China—89% used the Internet in the last week, with 2.6 hours dedicated to online use versus only 1.6 hours with TV and less than 1 hour per day for radio.

Google is the top search destination, while Yahoo! is ahead of MSN for instant messaging for Chinese Canadians. YouTube and Facebook were in the top 10, as were 3 major Chinese sites.

Fairchild Radio was the top radio station in Toronto and Vancouver among Cantonese-speakers, while English-language news stations captured the top spot among Mandarin-speaking Chinese (680 News in Toronto and News 1130 in Vancouver).

Fairchild TV was number one in Toronto among Cantonese-speakers while Citytv, Fairchild, CBC and Omni 1 and 2 were in the top spots for Mandarin-speakers.

Sing Tao was the leading Chinese-language paper in both Toronto and Vancouver, and the Toronto Star and Vancouver Sun were the leading English-language dailies in Toronto and Vancouver, respectively Canadian South Asian Consumers

Among South Asian Canadians in the 15-29 age group, 89% are Internet users and 71% of those 30-49 use the Internet on a weekly basis.

Google, Yahoo!, Hotmail, MSN, Facebook and YouTube were the top portals among South Asians. South Asian sites and BBC sites were also popular.

In Vancouver, the recently-launched Red-FM emerged as the leading South Asian radio destination, with a 43% weekly reach. In Toronto, 680 News is the leading station while 101.3 CMR (Canadian Multicultural Radio) is in the #2 spot.

On TV, Alpha Punjabi was the leading TV brand in Vancouver, followed by ATN, Global and Vision. In Toronto, Citytv and ATN were tied for the top spot.

The Toronto Star was the leading paper in the GTA among South Asians. In Vancouver, The Province took the top spot. Ajit was the leading South Asian newspaper in both markets.

An important finding in the research was the extent to which Canadian Chinese and South Asian consumers find in-language advertising relevant. 80% of Canadian Chinese and 78% South Asian consumers say that they find ads by major Canadian companies in their first language in addition to English “useful” with over 50% finding them “very useful.”

For more information contact David Ackerman at or 416.323.1337 x 25.

From Ipsos Reid  Ethnic marketing has become one of the hottest trends  and Chinese and South Asian markets are particularly tantalizing.

The most compelling argument for considering ethnic markets is based on sheer numbers. The upcoming census show that the immigrant population in Canada has reached an amazing 5.6 million residents, of which more than one million live in Vancouver. Chinese/South Asian immigrants represent more than half of the total influx. Even more astounding are the projections for the future. Stats Canada anticipates that by the year 2017, there will be 7 to 9.3 million immigrants living in Canada, an increase of 24–65% over existing levels. This means that in 2017, roughly 1 in 5 Canadians will be a member of a visible minority (in British Columbia, that ratio will be more like 1:3). Vancouver and Toronto are major destinations for new immigrants: over two-thirds of new immigrants locate in these cities.

The trend is clear: immigration currently represents roughly 60% of Vancouver and Toronto’s population growth, and it will only continue to increase as a factor.

Ipsos Reid have drawn several conclusions from their studies. First, it’s clear that Chinese and South Asians are substantially different from mainstream Canadians, demographically, behaviorally, and attitudinally. By and large, they prefer to be communicated with in-language: 60–70% of them want to see marketing and communications messages delivered in their mother tongue. One survey showed that 65% of Chinese Canadians pay more attention to advertising if it is in Chinese rather than English; a further 63% were more likely to deal with businesses that were more involved in their communities.

The purchasing power represented by Chinese and South Asians is also significant. They are generally younger, with 70% under the age of 45. Income comparisons show that 54% of South Asians have household incomes of more than $60K compared to 46% of mainstream Canadians, and that 48% of Chinese Canadians have investible assets of $50K or more compared to only 36% of mainstream Canadians.

Second, organizations need to have an in-house expert who understands how to target this market. This expert must know the market, have contacts in it, and be able to get things done. Without this expert, a lot of time and effort will be wasted. Third, a sustained effort is critical. Results will not be achieved overnight; a long-term, multifaceted effort is necessary for an organization to establish a presence in the market. Community-based and sponsorship initiatives are important, as are forming connections with opinion leaders who can provide advice and influence. Most marketers will not forge a quick or direct path to market success, and will have to be patient to recognize meaningful ROIs.

Despite the challenges of penetrating a new and unfamiliar segment, there’s little doubt that marketing to ethnic groups like Chinese and South Asians is a must.

Finally at MARCOM there will be a very interesting presentation:

Demystifying the Chinese Canadian Market

Cindy Gu, President and Publisher
The Epoch Times
Shawn Li, Director, Marketing and Sales
The Epoch Times

With Census 2006, the immigrant population in Canada reached 20% for the first time. In Toronto and Vancouver, the foreign-born population now accounts for 40-50%.

This session will demonstrate how to effectively communicate and market to the Chinese Canadian community; the largest visible minority group with the third most spoken language after English and French,  through an insightful look at their profiles, demographics, language loyalty, psychographics, media habits, geographic distribution, culture and values.