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Promotions, Public Relations and Advertising

Promotions, Public Relations and Advertising
The business of every business is to remain in business and to do this you need to gain and maintain your customers’ trust and confidence since sustainability is desirable to prevent the devastating and inefficient impacts of corporate premature death (Alex & Doane 2001). All firms seek to promote and sell their products and services profitably. Therefore, promotions, Public Relations and Advertising are vital to the growth and survival of such firms
Definition: Promotions refer to the entire set of activities, which communicate the product, brand or service to the user. The idea is to make people aware, attract and induce to buy the product, in preference over others. Promotion refers to raising customer awareness of a product or brand, generating sales, and creating brand loyalty (Belch & Belch 2009). It is one of the four basic elements of the market mix, which includes the four P's: price, product, promotion, and place.
Promotion is also defined as one of five pieces in the promotional mix or promotional plan. These are personal selling, advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing, and publicity. A promotional mix specifies how much attention to pay to each of the five factors, and how much money to budget.

Description: There are several types of promotions. Above the line promotions include advertising, press releases, consumer promotions (schemes, discounts, contests), while below the line include trade discounts, freebies, incentive trips, awards and so on. Sales promotion is a part of the overall promotion effort.

1.1 The Marketing Mix or four Ps

The marketer E. Jerome McCarthy proposed a four Ps classification which has since been used by marketers throughout the world.

A product is seen as an item that satisfies what a consumer demands. It is a tangible good or an intangible service. Tangible products are those that have an independent physical existence. Typical examples of mass-produced, tangible objects are the motor car and the disposable razor. A less obvious but ubiquitous mass-produced service is a computer operating system.
Product: Every product is subject to a life-cycle including a growth phase followed by a maturity phase and finally an eventual period of decline as sales fall. Marketers must do careful research on how long the life cycle of the product they are marketing is likely to be and focus their attention on different challenges that arise as the product moves.
Price: When setting a price, the marketer must be aware of the customer perceived value for the product. Three basic pricing strategies are: market skimming pricing, market penetration pricing and neutral pricing. The 'reference value' (where the consumer refers to the prices of competing products) and the 'differential value' (the consumer's view of this product's attributes versus the attributes of other products) must be taken into account.
Promotion: Advertising covers any communication that is paid for, from cinema commercials, radio and Internet advertisements through print media and billboards. Public relations is where the communication is not directly paid for and includes press releases, sponsorship deals, exhibitions, conferences, seminars or trade fairs and events.
Place: Refers to providing the product at a place which is convenient for consumers to access. Various strategies such as intensive distribution, selective distribution, exclusive distribution and franchising can be used by the marketer to complement the other aspects of the marketing mix.

1.2 Promotional mix

In marketing, the promotional mix describes a blend of promotional variables chosen by marketers to help a firm reach its goals. It has been identified as a subset of the marketing mix. It is believed that there is an optimal way of allocating budgets for the different elements within the promotional mix to achieve best marketing results, and the challenge for marketers is to find the right mix of them. Activities identified as elements of the promotional mix vary, but typically include the following:
  • Advertising is the paid presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor in a mass medium. Examples include print ads, radio, television, billboard, direct mail, brochures and catalogs, signs, in-store displays, posters, mobile apps, motion pictures, web pages, banner ads, emails.
  • Personal selling is the process of helping and persuading one or more prospects to purchase a good or service or to act on any idea through the use of an oral presentation, often in a face-to-face manner or by telephone. Examples include sales presentations, sales meetings, sales training and incentive programs for intermediary salespeople, samples, and telemarketing.
  • Sales Promotion is media and non-media marketing communication used for a pre-determined limited time to increase consumer demand, stimulate market demand or improve product availability. Examples include coupons, sweepstakes, contests, product samples, rebates, tie-ins, self-liquidating premiums, trade shows, trade-ins, and exhibitions.
  • Public relations or publicity is information about a firm's products and services carried by a third party in an indirect way. This includes free publicity as well as paid efforts to stimulate discussion and interest. It can be accomplished by planting a significant news story indirectly in the media, or presenting it favorably through press releases or corporate anniversary parties. Examples include newspaper and magazine articles, TVs and radio presentations, charitable contributions, speeches, issue advertising, seminars.
  • Direct Marketing is a channel-agnostic form of advertising that allows businesses and nonprofits to communicate directly to the customer, with methods such as mobile messaging, email, interactive consumer websites, online display ads, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters, and outdoor advertising.
  • Corporate image campaigns have been considered as part of the promotional mix.
  • Sponsorship of an event or contest or race is a way to generate further positive publicity.
  • Guerrilla marketing tactics are unconventional ways to bring attention to an idea or product or service, such as by using graffiti, sticker bombing, posting flyers, using flash mobs, doing viral marketing campaigns, or other methods using the Internet in unexpected ways.
  • Product placement is paying a movie studio or television show to include a product or service prominently in the show.
2.0 Public Relations
The Public relations Society of America defined Public relations in (2012) as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
In other words, Public relations can also be defined as the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics (Dominick 2007)
Here, the Public relations experts or professionals present the face of the organization or individual they represent, to articulate its objectives and official views on issues of relevance, primarily to the media. Public relations contribute to the way an organization is perceived by influencing the media and maintaining relationships with stakeholders.
The concept that is sometimes confused with public relations is press agentry. Press agentry involved staging events or planning enterprises that attract media or public attention to a person, product, organization or cause. Press agents now more commonly called publicity agents, are useful in some PR campaigns, public relations encompasses a much broader area and involves more than just attracting attention (Dominick 2007)
Another concept that is sometimes confused with public relations is publicity, the placing of stories in the mass media. Publicity is a tool in the public relations process, but it is not equivalent to Public Relations.
According to Dr. Jacquie L’Etang from Queen Margaret University, public relations professionals can be viewed as "discourse workers specializing in communication and the presentation of argument and employing rhetorical strategies to achieve managerial aims
2.1 Public Relations practitioner has the following as part of his functions:
2.2        Similarities and differences between advertising and public relations
·         Both are attempts at persuasion
·         Both involve using the mass media
·         Public is a management function while advertising is a marketing function.
·         Advertising uses the mass media and machine assisted communication settings. While public relations involve interpersonal communications.
·         Advertising is normally sponsored.  While public relations messages appear as features, news stories, or editorials and the space or time involved is not paid for. In many instances, advertising, particularly corporate advertising is used to help further a public relations program
Public Relations is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organization leaders and implementing planned programs of action that serve both the organization’s and the public’s interest.
2.3      Ethical issues in Public Relations and their Analysis
The use of public Relations experts as reporters must especially during Video News Releases (VNRs). The government most times makes use of public relations experts to communicate messages to the public and at the end of the message, the Public Relations person will act as a reporter while he is not. The public Relations person should as a matter of fact, state that the message is from a particular government department to avoid confusion.
For instance, there was a heated argument in the US about president Push Medicare prescription drug plan. Before signing the bill into law, there was serious publicity through Video News Release (VNR) on different channels. The story ran in over 40 TV channels in 33 markets. Karen Ryan was used for that story, at the end she said ‘I am Karen Ryan, reporting’. The question now is, should she be used as a reporter? Which media organization does she work? Now, she should have said, I am Karen Ryan reporting for the department of health and human services.
For example in Nigeria, during the Ebola disease issue, such messages were clearly stated if they were from the state or federal government 
2.4     SPIN
Spin has been interpreted historically to mean overt deceit meant to manipulate the public, but since the 1990s has shifted to describing a "polishing of the truth. Today spin refers to providing a certain interpretation of information meant to sway public opinion. Companies may use spin to create the appearance of the company or other events are going in a slightly different direction than they actually are. Within the field of public relations, spin is seen as a derogatory term, interpreted by professionals as meaning blatant deceit and manipulation. Skilled practitioners of spin are sometimes called "spin doctors."
In the work of Stuart Ewen, “Public Relations: A Social History of Spin” he argues that public relations can be a real menace to democracy as it renders the public discourse powerless. Corporations are able to hire public relations professionals and transmit their messages through the media channels and exercise a huge amount of influence upon the individual who is defenseless against such a powerful force. He claims that public relations is a weapon for capitalist deception and the best way to resist is to become media literate and use critical thinking when interpreting the various mediated messages

Advertising is any form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services usually paid for by an identified sponsor (Dominick 2007)
Advertising can also said to be Paid, non-personal, public communication about causes, goods and services, ideas, organizations, people, and places, through means such as direct mail, telephone, print, radio, television, and internet. An integral part of marketing, advertisements are public notices designed to inform and motivate. Their objective is to change the thinking pattern (or buying behavior) of the recipient, so that he or she is persuaded to take the action desired by the advertiser. When aired on radio or television, an advertisement is called a commercial.

3.1 Functions of Advertising

3.1.i Identifying Brands

Products, services and ideas are sold through businesses that are differentiated by their brand identities. Brand identity is communicated to the public via advertising. Consumers build emotional relationships with certain brands with which they become increasingly familiar through the years, thanks to advertising.

3.1.ii Information

Advertising supplies the necessary information to consumers so that they know what is available and where to buy it. It broadcasts information on products, services and ideas sold on the open market through a variety of media portals. It reveals the special features being sold, what color and size the product is and which stores carry it.

3.1.iii Persuasion

Powerful, visual advertising presentations compel consumers to purchase goods, services and ideas as a way to achieve emotional fulfillment. Persuasion is the core mission of advertising. Advertising tells you how the product, service or idea you are considering will improve your life. According to Jeremiah O'Sullivan R, author of "The Social and Cultural Effects of Advertising," advertising feeds on the concepts of ideology, myth, art, sexual attraction and religion. Advertising infuses images and ideas into products and services, just as the meanings of products and services are infused into images and ideas, notes O'Sullivan.

3.1.iv Previewing New Trends

Previews about the virtues of new products, services and ideas motivate consumers to obtain them because they don't want to be left out. Advertising lets consumers in on up-and-coming trends and new markets. They offer coupons, rebates and trial offers on new products, services or ideas to recruit new customers and induce existing customers to try things. Advertisers preview new or improved products, services and ideas to consumers in order to appeal to their sense of wanting to be in the know about leading edge trends. Previewing new trends is a technique employed by advertisers that capitalizes on consumers' desires to "keep up with the Jones" by owning the latest and greatest product, service or idea.

3.1.v Demand

The demand generated by advertising, public relations, and sales promotion "pulls" the goods or services through channels of distribution, notes "Reference for Business." One of the powerful functions of advertising is to generate consumer demand for specific products, services and ideas through ad campaigns that target the audiences that are most likely to buy them." Products, services and concepts are sold in volume, according to the consumer demand for them.

3.1.vi Customer Base

Consistent quality advertising increases consumer loyalty for a product, service or idea. Advertising seeks to maintain the current customer base by reinforcing purchasing behavior with additional information about the benefits of brands. The goal of advertising is to build and reinforce relationships with customers, prospects, retailers and important stakeholders.

3.1.vii Pricing

Advertising displays consumer goods with competitive prices relative to the current market, thus educating consumers about what things should cost. Advertising lets you know what the competition is doing, when the next sale is, and how you can receive the latest coupon or rebate and seeks to assure you that you are receiving the best value for your money.
3.1.viii Advertising online
Online advertising began in 1994 when HotWired, the digital counterpart to the technoship wired magazine, started a web site with about a dozen sponsors who paid to have advertising banners embedded throughout the site. Since that time, online advertising has though a number of changes.
3.2 Categories of internet Advertising
Banner advertisings, pop-ups and pop-under are still the most common forms of online advertisings, but other configurations are gaining popularity.
·         Splash pages are web advertising pages that appear before a web page loads and then disappear a short while later.
·         A skyscraper is an elongated vertical banner advertising that borders one side of a web page
·         Floating advertising is one in which an object moves across the page on a preset course of moves up and sown a page as the user scrolls.
·         Mouse-trapping advertising occurs when the user closes one advertising that is then replaced by a slew of others that keep popping up.
3.3      Hierarchy Models
Hierarchy models is one of the earliest theories about advertising effects Elmo Lewis suggested, a theoretical idea that turned out to be fundamentally important to all theories about advertising. “Attention to a message led to Interest in the focus of the message, which led to Desire for the idea/object, which led to Action to comply with what the advertising advocated.” The AIDA model was the first of what have come to be called “hierarchy” models of how advertising works. That for a good advertising, it should be able to get the attention of the people, the people should be able to develop interest, there should be desire for such product and action should be taken which has to do with patronizing the product.
Consequently, Advertising is supposed to have an effect on people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. “Wasted advertising” has no effect. It doesn’t increase interest or motivation toward the brand, doesn’t bring attention to the message itself or, even worse, may cause some negative feelings such as annoyance about being exposed to an advertisement of no relevance. Therefore, advertising should be properly planned so that it can gain the people’s attention, then they will develop interest and that will create desire and make them take action.

3.4        Issues in advertising and their Analysis
Critics of advertising are of the view that advertising does nothing rather than creating greed, envy and avarice. Critics of Advert hold the view that advertising does nothing than to promote materialistic values and lifestyles. That advertising persuades us to evaluate others not by who they are, but by what they possess. Here material objects are portrayed as desirable goals.
To others, selling to children is not right. They argue that children are unsophisticated audience and are vulnerable to the flashy, persuasive techniques of the advertising industry. They argue that not many parents will allow salespersons to come into their homes and talk about products and services. The question now is why should they allow television to target their children?
The proponents to this act argue that, a child’s early exposure to such adverts, will give him better understanding on the product and that will go a long way to affect his decision making process on such product and he will be knowledgeable on such products.
On the part of the government, the issue has legal as well as ethical overtones. The government has weighed in on the side of kids. The television Act limits the amount of commercial minutes on TV shows that can be directed at children. There is also a proposal to ban or limit beer, wine, and liquor advertising. Despite these efforts, it is clear that parents will be the ones to confront the issue.
4.0 Conclusion
Promotion is an activity taken up to create awareness and boost the sales of a product. It includes a host of activities like advertising campaigns, public relation activities, distribution of free samples, offering free gifts, conducting trade-fairs, exhibitions, competitions, offering temporary reduction in price, launching door-to-door selling, conducting demonstrations at schools, telemarketing. While, Public relations is a planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its public. The role of PR is to identify the relevant public and influence their opinion. Publicity is a sub function of PR that acts as a bridge between the organization (its products) and its public. Advertising on its own part, is the paid form of most widely used personal mass communication. It can be in oral, written or visual form and is sponsored by an identifiable source. Advertising is carried out in various mass media like the TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, out-door displays, the Internet.
It is important to figure out how to use advertising, public relations, and promotional activities such as coupons or special shopping days as strategies. Decision must be reached on what media channels to use, such as television, print, Internet, or mobile devices, to reach the target audience.
Just as functionalism theory states that, every unit or structure in the society functions to complement each other. That is, each structure performs a particular function in the society which brings about growth. So also promotions, public relations and advertising function side-by-side to ensure proper awareness and on the long run bring about more sales and in return improved revenue and greater returns.

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