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PR vs. BD: Dispelling the Misconceptions

February 19, 2013

Today’s post is courtesy of Courtney O’Regan, an account manager at Rhino Public Relations. You can follow Courtney on twitter at: @RhinoPR_Court.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1.pptxDo you feel a rush of adrenaline when your firm wins a big project? Like most of your SMPS peers, you probably do and were drawn to the field of marketing for the thrill of a win. Our roles as marketers are similar to those of competitive athletes; we harness our skills, work as a team, race against the clock to get a proposal in on time, and in the end we either win or lose. Part of your marketing game strategy is to know everyone’s roles on your team and how they can come together to win that next big project.

Two positions that are often confused are that of the public relations and the business development professionals. How are their roles different and how can they complement each other to work effectively? Having previously worked as a marketing director for an A/E firm and now as an account manager for Rhino Public Relations, I want to help clarify how PR and BD differ.

In a nutshell, the goal of a business development professional is to nurture relationships with prospective clients and use one’s network to help develop new opportunities for the company. Setting up meetings, representing the company at industry events, assessing the competition and helping the company form a “go/no-go” decision are but a few of the responsibilities of a BD professional.

PR professionals support these efforts by developing brand awareness and nurturing your company’s public image. Public relations commonly uses the following tactics to shape the public’s perception:

  1. Media Relations. While business development professionals maintain relationships with clients and prospects, PR pros maintain relationships with the media. Using our press contacts and news savvy, we help your firm get mentioned in the press – which carries with it the weight of third party validation. If your next big client is watching, reading or listening, a press mention can go a long way in helping support your business development efforts with that prospect.
  2. Messaging. What is your firm known for? What are its specialties and areas of expertise? If you surveyed your colleagues and clients, would they all have the same answers to these questions? A public relations strategy ensures consistent messaging to reinforce, reinforce, and reinforce some more what your company does best.
  3. Awards. Awards help boost a company’s profile. PR professionals research and submit award entries for your company. The recognition helps your firm rise above and differentiate itself from the competition.
  4. Speaking Opportunities. The unique opportunity of having an expert from your company speak at an industry event is one of the best ways to position your firm as a thought leader in its field. Just how do companies come across these coveted speaking opportunities? It is the PR professional’s role to research them, pitch the speaker and topic to the event organizer, and even help prepare the speaker for his or her big moment.

Marketing is truly a team sport. Each person – the proposal coordinator, the business development manager, the PR professional, and many more – is relied upon to do his or her part and work together to get the win. I sense there is a great football analogy here. The quarterback throwing the ball to the other guy so he can get the touchdown. Yes, I said other guy. I may not know football but I know PR! Make sure it is part of your next game strategy.

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