Top marketer discusses marketing & PR with aspiring practitioners

Dr John Rudd
Dr John Rudd, Head of the Marketing Group and Senior Lecturer in Marketing & Strategic Management at Aston Business School

Marketing & PR – part of the problem or part of the solution?

Most businesses see marketing as a cost not an investment, according to one of the UK’s most respected marketers, who is based at Aston Business School.

And that’s why marketing departments, says Dr John Rudd, Head of the Marketing Group at Aston Business School, are “constantly under pressure to reduce budgets and be more efficient and effective”.

Dr Rudd was addressing a group of aspiring marketers and PR practitioners during an exclusive Masterclass, organised by PRCA FrontLine, a group dedicated to providing information, support and advice to practising PR professionals from graduate to account director level, whether in agency or in-house.

He explained by posing three questions:

  1. What value do you create?
    For example, if the £30k charged for your services last year was not spent on PR but on something else, how would your client know? More importantly, would they notice? If you don’t know then how do you expect your client or indeed your clients’ bosses to know?

  2. How do your clients know?
    If it is clear, and measured, how and where you create value for your clients, do you regularly review and report this? Reporting of this kind demonstrates a commitment to helping the client justify their Marketing expenditure to those that set the budgets. Remember, the money available to the client for Marketing activities is directly related to the amount of money available for PR activities, that’s ultimately your income.

  3. What are the strategic issues?
    (a) For your clients – clients have been known to act on whims. Of course, this is their prerogative and, one school of thought might be “well….it’s their money”. But, good agencies – and those that tend towards long-term relationships – will try to get the client to think strategically about PR. You might ask: What are you trying to achieve by doing this? If we deliver this, where strategically is the impact? It may very well be that the “strategic” outcome for your client is simply to plaster their angelic countenance on the front page of the local paper – and that is as far as thinking in this matter has got. However this is not strategic. Vanity possibly – but not strategic! The point I make is that, if you have a client that has a propensity for “the whim”, then try and suggest that some kind of plan (with outcomes and objectives) might be a good idea. With a plan it is very clear to all concerned, why things are being done, what is expected and by when. This is far easier to manage and also to demonstrate that, despite what whim the client may now be following, you delivered on your part of the agreement.

    (b) For your business and industry – social media is more important now than has ever been before. While it might be easy to write this off as a phenomenon or a fad, those agencies not embracing new media may find themselves going to some way as the dodo. Remember that business history is littered with the bodies of organisations who thought that new market trends were fads…and would pass. My advice: be open and welcoming of change and the new, but be evaluative too.

This Masterclass was delivered by Dr John Rudd and covered topics such as how PR can lead the marketing mix, what factors influence a relationship between a client and its roster of agencies, and what success looks like to an organisation’s senior management.

Dr Rudd is a Senior FME Fellow, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors who, before embarking on an academic career, spent nearly 10 years in commerce gaining significant marketing and operational experience in retail, wholesale and construction industries.

David Kuczora, regional vice chairman of PRCA FrontLine, which hosted the event, said: Although PR forms a vital part of the marketing mix, many communicators in the early stages of their careers may be less aware of the challenges faced by their clients or colleagues in the marketing department.

“Those with perhaps one or two years’ experience under their belts will either work in a ‘full service’ agency and have encountered some other marketing tools, or will work for a dedicated PR agency and may have attended some ‘all-agency’ meetings with professionals from other marketing disciplines.

“However their experience is likely to be limited to one particular campaign or sector, and be to do with the tactical execution of an organisation’s broader marketing plan. It’s a great opportunity for young practitioners to start thinking about wider strategic marketing issues – and what success might look like to a board of directors.”

To discuss, or to arrange an interview with Dr John Rudd, or for all media enquiries please contact Dhiren Katwa in the Communications Team at Aston Business School on 0121 204 4954 or email d.katwa1@aston.ac.uk

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