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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Role of Publications and Merchandise in Public Relations

We live in a day and age where the use of public relations tools and initiatives are gaining prominence because of their ability to engage the desired audiences. At the same time Public Relations initiatives allow two way communications between the company and its audiences, this not only generates important feedback that can be used for business intelligence, but it also generates stakeholder loyalty. It is important to remember always that there are always two types of stakeholders associated with the company, firstly the internal stakeholders which comprises of employees and shareholders, and external stakeholders which includes customers, as well as the wider community in which the company is operating.
Marketing material in the form of the publications and merchandise plays a significant role in public relations initiatives for organizations with respect to both their internal and external audiences. Publications usually come in the form of company profiles, magazines and newsletters. In today’s digital internet based world, a lot of such publications have moved online to keep up with changes to our everyday environment. The company newsletter or the e-newsletter in particular plays an important role in engagement with both internal and external stakeholders.
The role of company newsletters is to provide important information and news alerts to their relevant audiences both internal and external. The information contained them includes news regarding company events, achievements, new product launches and even information about the role that the company is playing in the wider community. For example, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that the company might have in place would be something that they would like their stakeholders to know about. This is more than just publicity, since through this channel the organization not directly communicating messages with respect to their products and services, rather with respect to wider role as an organization that they are playing. Information about such organizational initiatives can play an important role in generating good public relations and improving corporate brand equity. The newsletters are also far more economical to run as opposed to conventional publications such as magazines, since they are shorter, providing specific and relevant information that can be easily compiled and distributed by the relevant department. With magazines it becomes important to also provide the audiences with content that is at least mildly interesting and entertaining in nature. With a diverse set of stakeholders both internal and external, this might prove to be a rather daunting task. What also makes newsletters economical is that they can easily be digitised and distributed, for magazines not only does the content need to be rich, but also to go digital, they would require a proper web portal as per current popular trends in industry.
Company merchandise also plays an important role in engagement and motivation of external and internal audiences. This however would be dependent on the nature of the company and the type of products and services they offer. With the respect to external audiences, it might be more appropriate for companies to have a brand focused as opposed to a company focused approach when engaging with external audiences through merchandise. A good example of a brand which has successfully managed to engage both internal and external audiences is Coca Cola. Coca Cola is not just the world’s largest brand; it is also a beverage which is part of everyday life for the hundreds of millions of its users around the world. Fans of Coca Cola, whether they are internal stakeholders or the consumers of their soft drinks proudly use ‘Coca Cola’ branded merchandise. Coca Cola in particular is a very good example of a ‘Star’ company that has always leads the way in how to engage with their audiences. Not only have they been an important part of major global events, but they were also among the first companies to adopt online technology and other internet based tools. They were among the first brands to have a smartphone application which revolved around the theme of the Coca Cola user experience.
For employees among internal stakeholders, it also reinforces a sense of commitment and motivation for being part of that company or the brand as an everyday experience. It contributes also a great deal towards employer branding through word of mouth, making such organizations also a popular destination for the bright talent seeking out careers of choice. By being able to attract the best talent out there, companies and brands can successfully shape their future in the manner they seek and achieve their objectives.

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