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The good news is commercial construction companies recognize the value marketing brings to their businesses. In fact, most construction companies have a marketing department that handles everything from marketing strategy to website updates.

But how many marketing departments have a professional—or work with a firm--that can handle their public relations (PR) needs? In many instances, PR is lumped in with marketing, even though they are two different, but complementary, functions. 

The not-so-great news: All too often, construction companies tend to think of marketing and PR as the same. Even worse, some companies tend to define marketing as responding to RFPs, while PR is reduced to sending out news releases randomly and securing media placement.

What is the Difference?

Marketing ultimately comes down to developing a demand for a specific product or service, analyzing data to determine what is or isn’t working, and fulfilling customers’ needs. Public relations, on the other hand, is the strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their audiences.

Most likely, construction executives can see how PR and marketing tend to (or should) be joined at the hip, with both supporting a construction company’s sales efforts and advancing an organization’s overall business objectives. To forego the PR component does a disservice to the company. The most successful construction companies tend to be the ones with cohesive marketing and PR programs working side-by-side to promote the business. Think of marketing and PR like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies—they just go together.

What, then, are the benefits of a coordinated communications program that incorporates marketing and PR?

1. Credibility

Using marketing activities such as compiling and analyzing data informs public relations to create meaningful content. Having hard data from the marketing department can help PR to sharpen its audience focus and refine the tactics it employs. In turn, that brings added credibility to the PR effort and a direct correlation between activities and results.

2. Consistency

Business prospects and clients are bombarded with a seemingly limitless stream of information and an endless number of options. The average individual is hit with between 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages per day. As a result, psychologists have determined it takes a minimum of seven mentions for a brand even to begin to register with the intended target. To cut through all that noise, businesses need to constantly remind their key audiences who they are, what products or services they offer, and why those products/services are preferable to those of competitors. No initiative will have true success without consistency.

3. Greater Awareness

Complementary marketing and PR tactics will yield greater visibility for the business, helping it to stand out from the competition. While marketing’s tactics are often focused on self-generated activities, such as company newsletters, public relations activities are focused on earned opportunities, such as media coverage, awards and speaking engagements. A cohesive communications strategy using marketing and PR will expand awareness of an organization’s products or services.

4. Allow for Synergy

Marketing and PR should work together to better reach an intended audience. Because marketers and PR professionals already work in many of the same areas, it makes sense that their work should be done cooperatively. Marketing and PR need to share strategies, messaging and information, and then coordinate on the tactics moving forward.

5. Unifying Messages

Marketing and PR departments need to use the same messaging to optimize efforts and initiatives intended to reach current and prospective clients. What is the point of pushing out an e-newsletter or updating the website if the PR team is using messages that are outdated, focusing on the wrong aspects of the business or describing the company in completely different terms?

Here’s a case in point: Several years ago, a commercial construction firm began developing a strategic communications plan. The top two executives could not understand why no one in their market seemed to know what they did. Some even mistook the company for a law firm, given its name.

However, neither executive could quickly identify what their company was about. When they did start discussing these topics, they disagreed with each other. Clearly, if there is no agreed-on internal messaging, how will key audiences—who are bombarded daily with other brands—be able to understand what a company does and the services it offers?

The bottom line: Marketing and public relations need each other to provide optimum results. It is not a line item that is negotiable. In today’s competitive construction industry climate, a comprehensive, ongoing marketing and public relations program is a must. The words of Bill Gates are worth remembering: “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR.”

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