MSc in Digital Marketing Week 9

By Paul Morris

Note: these notes are aimed as a memory mnemonic for my MSc in Digital Marketing 

This session was taught by Ayesha Owusu-Barnaby.

The goals of the session were to review key concepts in Public Relations, explore the concept of co-creation whilst using real world examples.

Many “public relations” definitions but a key British one = “The deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.” Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

…And a US of A one: ‘Public Relations is a planned process to  influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-way communication.’ Seitel 2004

Organisations are not free floating bodies unaffected by what is around them which leads them borrowing from Systems Theory.

The role for PR is to develop and maintain good relationships to help the organisation achieve its objectives.

PR Publics defined =

  • The mosaic of the many different ethnic, racial, religious, geographic, political, occupational, social and special interest groupings that would be included make the general public concept of little, if any, value in public relations  Cutlip, Center  & Broom (2006)
  • There are Four types of Publics (All issue publics, Apathetic publics, Single issue publics and  Hot issue publics by Cutlip, Center & Broom; 2006)

It is a good idea to identify Publics so you can establish priorities for budget and scope, select appropriate media & techniques and prepare acceptable and effective messages.

If publics are not selected this can lead to a waste of funds, messages not being relevant and objectives not being achievable.

Jefkin’s Ten Publics = The Community, Potential Employees, Employees, Suppliers, Investors, Distributors, Consumers/Users, Opinion Leaders, Trade Unions, The Media. The role for PR is to understand and manage these relationships

Increasingly the focus for (corporate) PR is reputation management

  • Corporate reputations contribute 32 per cent to the market capitalisation of FTSE100 firms (Echo research, 2011)
  • There is also evidence that maintaining a positive reputation will directly increase a company’s market cap. On average, a five per cent improvement in the strength of a reputation will lead to an increase of 1.8 per cent in the market cap of a FTSE100 company.
  • Reputation Institute (March, 2011) found 50 per cent of the public would give a reputable company the benefit of the doubt during a crisis.

Digital context: User Generated Content (UGC)

  • A vehicle for brand conversations and consumer insights
  • Individuals can express themselves through sharing ideas with others
  • “extreme negative reviews (had) a greater impact than extremely positive…” (Taken Smith, 2011)
  • Even moderately negative reviews negate the positive
  • Harmful implications for brand equity


  • Producing content by sharing voices and ideas from a wide audience
  • All situations where consumers collaborate with companies – e.g. online content

(Christodoulides, Jevons & Bonhomme, Journal of Advertising Research, March 2012)

Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004 as cited in Sarker et al)

  • Highlight the essence of co-creation
  • “not the transfer nor out – sourcing of activities…nor a marginal customisation of pro- ducts and services.”
  • They emphasise the importance of “personalised interactions” between a firm and its stake- holders.

Some nice PR advice:

Be sincere: What is your brand’s character? Whatever it is, stick to the script & Don’t try to be something you are not because of circumstances or personal inclination.

Be respectful: Start communication with more brand related messages as opposed to product-related ones.

Listen: See what brands around you are saying and how they are being received by the public and take note.“

(Cambie S, Communication World Jan-Feb 2012) 

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