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Introduction to public relations

The study of public relations covers many facets, from theory, to the strategic, to the tactical. Yet, in many instances each aspect can inform or be linked to others. The aim of this essay is to focus on a specific facet of public relations and describe its importance and relevance for successful contemporary public relations. In doing so, this writer would be gaining a better understanding of the topic, and therefore, be better positioned to become a more successful public relations professional.

In order to get a better understanding of the relationship between corporate social responsibility and public relations, it is very important to define and explain both of these concepts. Public relations can be defined as “the management of communication between an organisation and its publics” (Grunig & Hunt 1984, p. 6). Similarly, Cutlip, Center & Broom (2006) explains public relations to be “the management function that identifies, establishes, and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends” (p. 6). The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a little bit more difficult to define, as illustrated by Wadell, Devine, Jones and George (2007) who explains it as being “an evolving term without a recognised set of specific criteria and as such it does not have a standard definition” (p. 174). However, an indication of what the concept involves is presented by Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter (2003) who discuss social responsibility as a term to mean “an obligation, beyond that required by law and economics, for a firm to pursue long term goals that are good for society” (p. 138). So it can be assumed that corporate social responsibility will be the social responsibility that is expected from an organisation. It would require the organisation to focus beyond its economic and legal objectives, but to also act ethically and be a good corporate citizen by contributing to society.

The definition of both these concepts, particularly that which is provided by Cutlip, Center & Broom (2006, p. 6) makes it clear that corporate public relations involves considerably more than simply communication between an organisation and its publics. As Long & Hazelton (1987) explain, public relations are a communication function through which “organisations adapt to, alter, or maintain their environment for the purpose of achieving organisational goals”. This requires the public relations professional to have a thorough understanding of the organisation’s operating environment. Broadly speaking, the organisation’s operating environment include political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, environmental and legal influences (Harrison 2011, p. 241). The public relations practitioner would need to ensure that they are competent in their understanding of the trends, if any, they can be identified in each of these environmental areas, as well as be sensitive to issues and many other concerns that an organisation’s stakeholders may have, which will affect the organisation’s future.

Understanding corporate social responsibility and what it entails is actually very important. This is quite a broad area and requires looking at the organisation from a non-financial perspective. It requires getting understanding of the various stakeholders in the organisation has, as well as their needs. Organisations have many stakeholders, who are defined as “any constituencies in the organisation’s external environment that are affected by the organisation’s decisions or actions” (Robbins et al, 2003, p. 92). Orlitzky, Siegel and Waldman (2011) outline that “multinational firms are increasingly pressured by numerous stakeholders to engage in social and environmental responsibility” (p. 6).

In the modern competitive market is no longer appropriate enough to simply focus on producing high-quality goods and providing a high standard of service. There is simply too much competition in the market and most of the industry participants provide high-quality goods as well as a high standard of service. In order to differentiate themselves, organisations need to do something more. It is now not a matter of what the organisation does, but how they do it. Those organisations who are seen as being better corporate citizens tend to attract more customers, as well as employees. A professional public relations practitioner can do a lot to assist the organisation to be more valued by their customers and other stakeholders. The public relations practitioner can be the organisation’s agent who works with the organisation’s stakeholders to identify, establish, and maintain mutually beneficial relationships, on which the organisation’s success or failure depends.

In conclusion, organisations do not operate in a vacuum. Their operations are affected by various forces, which may include legal, economic, political and so forth. Furthermore, an organisation has multiple stakeholders. Gone are the days where the key stakeholders with owners and managers. Today’s society is much more sensitive towards the way organisations and managed and operated. Consumers, lobby groups and suppliers have certain expectations of the organisation, and these expectations are not met then this could have a negative effect on the goodwill and financial performance of the organisation. The public relations practitioner is the bridge between the organisation and is very stakeholders. It is therefore very important, for the public relations practitioner to identify who the organisation is very stakeholders may be, what their needs and expectations of the organisation are, as well as the influential forces which make impact their reputation operations of the organisation. These various factors form part of a study of corporate social responsibility. It is therefore very important for the public relations practitioner to be aware of the concept of corporate social responsibility as well as have an understanding of what it entails.


Cutlip, SM, Center, AH & Broom, GM 2006, Effective Public Relations, 9th ed, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Grunig, JE & Hunt, T 1984, Managing Public Relations, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New Jersey.

Harrison, K 2011, Strategic Public Relations – A Guide to Practical Success, Palgrave MacMillian, Melbourne.

Long, LW & Hazleton, V 1987, “Public relations: a theoretical and practical response”, Public Relations Review, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 32 – 5.

Orlitzky, M, Siegel, DS & Waldman, DA 2011, “Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Sustainability”, Business & Society, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 6 – 27.

Robbins, SP, Bergman, R, Stagg, I & Coulter, M 2003, Management, 3rd ed, Prentice Hall, Sydney.

Wadell, D, Devine, J, Jones, G & George, J 2007, Contemporary Management, McGraw-Hill Irwin, Sydney.

Out-of-home advertising

The aim of his short essay is to outline and discuss the concept of out-of-home advertising and how advertisers can use it to support other categories of advertising as part of their advertising campaign. The essay will begin with a definition an explanation of out-of-home advertising. This will further progress by outlining the benefits, characteristics and the rationale and strategies for its use to support other categories of advertising.

In the past out-of-home advertising was simply called outdoor advertising, however, over time as new advertising formats and avenues for advertising were developed, outdoor advertising was no longer an appropriate term (Altstiel and Grow, 2006). Today, out-of-home advertising is a term that covers “all advertising that’s seen outside of the home but is not in the point-of-sale category” (ibid, p. 217). Out-of-home advertising incorporates a very broad range of various formats. Surmanek (1996) categorises a sample of out-of-home media according to a common reference. The common references that he lists include outdoor, transit, in-store, place-based and miscellaneous (See Appendix 1). When reviewing the various formats that out-of-home advertising can occur in, it becomes clear why the term outdoor advertising is no longer appropriate. Apart from advertising that occurs outdoors, out-of-home advertisingcan include advertising that is seen on the interior of the public transport system, inside phone booths, placards which are placed on the front of shopping trolleys, and various forms of advertising and shopping centres, as a few examples.

Out-of-home advertising offers the advertiser many opportunities and advantages, which is why it is becoming more commonly used as part of an integrated marketing communication campaign. This form of advertising has a relatively low cost per exposure, since it is classified as a type of mass communication in which the message is exposed to a very large volume of consumers in a particular region. Pride, Hughes and Kapoor (2011) support this view by stating that for a relatively inexpensive cost “out-of-home advertising allows marketers to focus on a particular geographic area” (p. 453). It needs to be noted, however, that while marketing texts use the term “low cost”, the actual numerical cost of the advertising can still amount to many hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the type of out-of-home advertisement and the level of exposure that it provides. The cost advantages of out-of-home advertisingare based on the actual cost of the advertising which is spread across the large percentage of the population which the message reaches. Stanton, Miller & Layton (1994) explain that out-of-home advertising allows the marketer to reach a large percentage of the population due to the mobile nature of our society. The cost advantages of out-of-home advertising is one of the reasons that advertisers use it. The Australian Outdoor Media Association, as displayed in Appendix 2, calculates out-of-home advertisingto provide the third best return on investment (ROI) compared to other advertising formats such as television, print, radio, online and cinema. Technically, cinema advertising is also classified as a form ofout-of-home advertising, since the cinema is clearly not at home. However, the Australian Outdoor Media Association categorises cinema advertising in a category on its own.

O’Guinn, Allen & Semenik (2012) consider out-of-home advertising as a form of support media. According to the authors “the traditional support media include billboard, transit, aerial, cinema, and directory advertising” (p. 569). The reason why it is best used to support other categories of advertising rather than be used as the primary means to advertise, is because it “must be limited to a few words because the audience is really moving” (Pride et al, 2011, p. 453).

Advertising can have a number of objectives. One objective is to “inform consumers about a new product or feature and to build primary demand” (Kotler, Adam, Brown and Armstrong, 2006, p. 438). This is termed informative advertising. Persuasive advertising is used “to build selected demand for a brand by persuading consumers that it offers the best quality for their money” (ibid). One form of persuasive advertising is termed comparison advertising which “compares one brand directly or indirectly with one or more other brands” (ibid). These three forms of advertising has fairly ambitious objectives, and as a result, require a fair amount of detail in the message that is presented in the advertisement. They may also require the message to be presented over a longer period of time in order for the consumer to absorb information. Integrated marketing campaigns will have at least one of these objectives that the campaign will try to achieve. As a result, an appropriate advertising medium is chosen which will be used in order to achieve the objective. There is a fourth advertising objective, and that is to ensure that consumers keep thinking about the product. This requires reminder advertising. Reminder advertising is used to enforce the message that has been presented previously with other elements of the integrated marketing communication campaign. It is here that out-of-home advertising is most appropriate. As stated previously, because the audience is on the move, the message provided on an out-of-home advertisementis limited and in most cases will not provide much detail. This is not a problem as a form of reminder advertising. Out-of-home advertisements are usually almost always on display, which is very helpful for reinforcing existing brands, and due to the large canvas can combine selling with entertainment. This form of advertising is relatively exclusive since it allows for a specific location to be selected. These are all very important factors which can help to support and reinforce the primary advertising strategies that make up the integrated marketing campaign. The effectiveness of out-of-home advertising to support other forms of advertising is illustrated in Appendix 3, which compares the return on investment of various forms of advertising with and without the support of out-of-home advertising as part of a campaign. The chart presented in Appendix 3 illustrates that in almost all cases, even with the additional investment required to incorporate out-of-home advertising in the marketing campaign, the return on investment on the whole integrated marketing campaign is increased by doing so.

Appendix 4 illustrates that out-of-home advertising is also quite effective as a form of advertising in itself. Due to the exposure that it provides to the audience, it increases the retention rate of the message. At a retention rate of 70%, only television advertising has a better retention rate than the 55% which is achieved as a result of out-of-home advertising, as given in research conducted by the Australian Outdoor Media Association (2011).

In conclusion, out-of-home advertising is commonly used by advertisers to support their other categories of advertising due to its ability to multiply and expand the return on investment of the other media channels that are used as part of integrated marketing campaign. By using out-of-home advertising, the marketer increases the memory of the rest of the advertising campaign, which can help to deliver an increased return on investment. Out-of-home advertising is also an efficient and effective advertising channel in its own right, and can reach an audience as large as that which is reached by television, at a fraction of the cost.


Altstiel, T & Grow, J 2006, Advertising Strategy: Creative Tactics from the Outside/In, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California.

O’Guinn, TC, Allen, CT & Semenik, RJ 2012, Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion, 6th edn, Cengage Learning/South-Western, Mason, Ohio.

Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”.

Pride, WM, Hughes, RJ & Kapoor, JR 2011, Business, 11th edn, Cengage Learning/South-Western, Mason, Ohio.

Stanton, WJ, Miller, KE & Layton, RA 1994, Fundamentals of Marketing, 3rd Australian edn, McGraw Hill Book Company, Sydney.

Surmanek, J 1996, Media Planning: A Practical Guide, 3rd edn, NTC Business Books, Chicago, Illinios.

APPENDIX 1 – Examples of Out of Home Media 

Common Reference Example
Outdoor Posters, paints.
Transit Bus and tram exteriors, bus and tram interiors, rail/subway posters, bus/train station posters and clocks.
In store Audio systems, shelf talkers, shopping trolley card cards/videos, hanging aisle posters.
Place-based School bulletin boards, bike racks, health club interiors, sports arena posters.
Miscellaneous Inflatable balloons, skywriting, in-movie theatre (Cinema), telephone booth enclosures.

SOURCE: Surmanek, J, 1996, Media Planning: A Practical Guide, 3rd edn, NTC Business Books, Chicago, Illinios, p. 129.

APPENDIX 2 – Return on Investment

Out of Home Advertising - Appendix 2

SOURCE: Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”, p. 5.

APPENDIX 3 – Return on Investment

Out of Home Advertising - Appendix 3

SOURCE: Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”, p. 7.

APPENDIX 4 – Retention Rate of Previous Week’s Activity

Out of Home Advertising - Appendix 4

SOURCE: Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”, p. 8.

Integrated marketing

The aim of this short essay is to explain why advertisers need to understand the concept of integrated marketing communication (IMC). The essay will begin by defining what IMC is, and explaining what it entails. The essay will further progress by presenting arguments which support IMC as a strategy for effective marketing campaigns, and certain weaknesses and challenges that surround IMC as a marketing strategy will also be presented an addressed.

The concept of integrated marketing communication (IMC) can be explained as being a “concept in which a company carefully integrates and coordinates its many communication channels to deliver a clear, consistent and compelling message about the organisation and its products” (Kotler, Adam, Brown and Armstrong, 2006, p. 412). Essentially, an IMC campaign has its basis on the foundations provided by the communications model. It is a concept, or strategy, which has gained popularity since the early 1990s (Kitchen, Schultz, Kim, Han and Li, 2004). However, there is still great debate about the value of IMC as a marketing communication strategy. Smith (2002) explains that an IMC strategy can help the organisation achieve a competitive advantage through a combination of increased sales and profits while saving money, time as well as stress. This is because the marketing message that is presented as part of an IMC strategy will have a greater impact than would a disjointed in myriad of individual messages. Others argue that IMC is another management fad which is very exciting and promising in theory, but its application in reality may be very difficult and lead to very disappointing and costly results. Researchers such as Hutton (1996) explain that there is nothing new about what IMC offers, since the concept of coordinating the various marketing functions and promotional activities has been described in various marketing literature for a long period of time. The only thing new about IMC is its name.

Integrated marketing communication, as the term suggests, requires integration of the various messages from different communication channels to come together to form a coherent brand and corporate image. The various marketing elements such as advertising, personal selling, public relations, sales promotion and publicity have to be coordinated in a way which makes them speak as a single voice. The critical success factor to ensure an achievement of a strong and unified brand image which persuades consumers to take action is coordination. The failure to closely co-ordinate all the various communication elements can result in duplication of efforts or contradictory messages. Coordination and integration is generally easier said than done, and there are many barriers which make integration very difficult. Moriarty (1994) believes that the greatest barriers to IMC are cross disciplinary managerial skills. This is supported by Kitchen et al(2004) whose research has identified that the various researchers on the topic agree on one thing, and that is that “for successful execution of marketing communications, various disciplines must be brought together with high efficiency and high resonance meaning to stakeholders, customers and consumers” (p. 1417). It is often not easy to bring together the various disciplines or even managers from different departments in one organisation, to work together in a way that benefits the organisation as a whole, rather than the individual departments. Organisational politics are major obstacles which need to be overcome during the process of integration (Duncan and Everett, 1993). These obstacles will make it very difficult to develop and effectively integrated campaign.

It is important for advertisers to understand the concept of integrated marketing communication due to its breadth and complexity. An IMC campaign involves various IMC media, tools as well as technologies each of which have certain strengths and weaknesses, as well as being more appropriate for different marketing objectives. Furthermore, because integrated marketing communication involves the use of multiple marketing media, even a small IMC campaign can be very expensive. Advertisers and marketers need to understand the various media, tools and technologies as individual elements, and then examined how this can be used together to create an overall IMC campaign. This is on top of the issues that have been outlined in the previous paragraph which need to be considered and investigated prior to developing an IMC campaign.

Semenik (2002) provides multiple arguments for the support of IMC in the contemporary business environment, and explains the following as being the driving forces which lead organisations towards the use of integrated marketing communication for their marketing campaigns. According to Semenik (2002) the contemporary marketplace is characterised with having a customer base which is fragmented, consumers who are empowered and desire more corporate accountability, where there is already a great deal of advertising clutter, a shifting in channel power and one which has a well-developed information technology infrastructure and Internet. Due to the complexity of the marketplace, organisations can no longer simplify marketplace systems and communication approaches, instead, they need to adapt their communication techniques in ways that are most appropriate for the more dynamic and complex marketplace. Duncan and Everett (1993) explain IMC as being a reflection of meaningful integrative and holistic thinking. According to the authors it requires advertisers to look at marketing communications as communication tools which “are strategically deployed in a complimentary fashion after careful analysis of customer needs and review of the market situation” (Kitchen et al, 2004, p. 1419). For this to be done with any chance of success, the advertiser needs to understand the various forms of communication, the various delivery channels and customer characteristics.

In conclusion, advertisers need to understand the concept of integrated marketing communication because it is quite a complex concept, yet one which requires a considerable financial investment as well as allocation of organisational resources. However, if successfully implemented, an integrated marketing communication can do a lot for the organisation in terms of informing consumers about the organisation’s product, its brand and this can help to considerably build brand equity. An effective integrated marketing communications strategy will be one that is not only informative, but it is also persuasive and will incorporate reminders to consumers about the organisation and its products. Due to the great deal that can be achieved through an IMC strategy and costs that are involved in an effective implementation, it is important to ensure that advertisers and marketers understand the concept. Failure to do so can be very disappointing and also highly costly for the organisation. This essay illustrated that there are many pitfalls involved with integrated marketing communication campaigns which need to be taken into consideration by marketers and advertisers. It is a relatively recent concept which has been developed over the past couple of decades. There is still a great deal to learn and understand about the concept, and those advertisers who are in a better position to do so will be able to provide much more effective and successful campaigns for their corporate clients.


Duncan, TR & Everett, SE 1993, “client perceptions of integrated communications” Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 30 – 39.

Hutton GJ 1996, “Integrated Marketing Communications and the Evolution of Marketing Thought”, Journal of Business Research, vol. 37, pp. 155 – 172.

Kitchen, PJ, Schultz, DE, Kim, I, Han, D & Li, T 2004, “Will agencies ever “get” (or understand) IMC?”,European Journal of Marketing, vol. 38, iss. 11/12, pp. 1417 – 1436.

Kotler, P, Adam, S, Brown, L & Armstrong, G 2006, Principles of Marketing, 3rd edn, Pearson Education Australia, Sydney.

Moriarty, SE 1994, “PR and IMC: the benefits of integration”, Public Relations Quarterly, vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 38 – 44.

Semenik, RJ 2002, Promotion and Integrated Marketing Communications, Thomson learning, London.

Smith, PR 2002, Marketing Communications: An Integrated Approach, 3rd edn, Kogan Page Limited, London.