Push versus Pull for PR and Marketing

Last week, I read two very good blogs posts from Tim Dyson (The end of Push PR/Marketing) and Beth Harte (Dear Marketing & PR Pros: You’re still pushing) regarding the broadcast tendency of public relations and marketing professionals.

In Tim’s post, he explores how social media is providing brands an opportunity to shape existing online conversations. As he writes, “shifting the debate is a way of shaping a conversation” and I agree with him.

The rapidly changing technology landscape has changed the way we consume and receive content. No longer can a brand buy air time on the big three TV networks and own the messaging. The ability to engage customers directly is an opportunity for brands to become part of the conversation. But this requires transparency and dedication to listen to what customers have to say versus reverting to our natural tendency to defend.

Or as Beth writes, “… marketing and PR practitioners still approach customers socially as if we are going into battle with them.” She raises the good point that PR and marketing professionals are still unfamiliar with the concept of “people relations.”


I would like to conclude with the comment that I left on Beth’s post:

“Whether PR practitioners or marketers, this is an interesting dynamic. The focus, for the most part, is on accumulating followers, fans and/or readers as a way to drive one’s own marketing messages. I’ve rarely seen true engagement on the level that Zappos does with its customers.

Which leads to another point to explore. We’re discussing who owns social media as part of the marketing or PR function. While marketing or PR can initiate the program, I believe that full participation of the entire organization is required to truly have a successful program.

For example, if your goal is to improve your net promoter scores, you have to get customer service involved. Otherwise, there will be a disconnect for consumers who are receiving one message from marketing and PR lead social media campaigns but experiencing something different with customer service.

So I would add to your point Beth – “Know why you are doing so and only do it when it makes the most sense. Stop with the shotgun approach.” And make sure that the right stakeholders are also on board and participating.”

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you agree or disagree?

Photo Credit: via Flickr by Robert S. Donovan


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