Whose job is it Anyway..PR or Marketing? – Recap

by Brittany Tepper

On May 11, 2017 the American Marketing Association’s Sunrise Executive Series first debate hosted five industry experts who tackled the age-old question: whose job is it anyway, marketing or public relations?

During the debate, some of the industry’s most controversial questions were raised. Here’s a summary of what went down:

Question #1: Social media has become a powerful tool for brands, but who should own it?

Marketing perspective:

Erin Williams, Director of Marketing at Bright Pink, shared how her non-profit organization utilizes social media as a touch-point for consumer connections. Williams opened the debate by asking the audience, “who owns your brand experience?” She then went on to emphasize that the consumer’s journey is in her hands, as a marketer.

Williams continued to stress on the important role of social media advertising to Bright Pink, citing examples of various tactics used by her organization over time to optimize on their advertising ROI. For example, through Facebook advertising, Bright Pink was able to get hundreds of women to take part in its breast and ovarian cancer assessment quiz, at 13 cents a quiz – a highly cost-effective tool by most standards.

PR perspective:

Luke Cushman, Vice President at Wilks Communications Group, pivoted to the role of PR in message management on social media. He argued that PR is responsible for taking objectives and molding them into compelling stories to increase engagement and improve media relations.

Cushman illustrated the role of PR in social media through a case study on TGI Fridays’ “endless appetizers” campaign that covered a competitive eater’s effort to “eat TGI Fridays out of business”. Cushman further explained how TGI’s social media presence amplified the promotion’s impact and strengthened engagement to the point that the campaign was picked up by several media outlets including Newsweek, something that the promotion alone may not have done.

Question #2: Content is king, but who should develop it?

Marketing perspective:

“When it comes to developing content, the beast is always hungry,” said Susan Szymanski, Vice President of Marketing at SPINS. According to her, “Marketing should always have a panoramic view of content and be responsible for everything the brand touches.”

Szymanski then proceeded to explain how SPINS’ main KPI, like that of most marketers, is to increase sales. She debated that it’s the marketing team’s responsibility to align objectives with sales and produce content that is ingrained in the company’s bottom line.

PR perspective:

Kelly Shannon, Vice President of University Marketing and Communication at Loyola University said that no matter who owns content, everyone should have a seat at the table. Adopting such arrangement helps uncover newsworthy content no matter the source. Shannon then proceeded to illustrate with an anecdote about a mother and daughter walking in the same commencement, stressing that such stories would not be possible without the collaboration of several teams across an organization working together as storytellers.

She further discussed the importance of channel integration and seamless transition of content; “Brands can’t afford to be 100% channel agnostic. Surely, no one has unlimited resources at their disposal to experiment at the expense of efficiency and effectiveness of their content marketing efforts” Shannon concluded.

Question #3: Who owns crisis management?

As was evident in the discussion, 100% of experts agree that crisis management falls under public relations.

Sam Randall, Director of Communications at Cook County Sheriff’s Department, certainly knows a thing or two about crisis communication. To him, the key to handling a crisis is all about being first and being truthful:

  • Being first allows you to get ahead of the story and prepare for communicating it.
  • Being truthful is simply the right (and essential) thing to do!

So, Who Won?

We’ll let you decide! Before you do though, keep in mind that our experts unanimously agreed that the most successful organizations have an integrated strategy and think of marketing and PR as a partnership that aligns under one goal.

About the author: Brittany Tepper is a Marketing Manager for Chicago Loop Alliance and a volunteer at the Chicago chapter of the American Marketing Association. You can find her blogs on Loop events and activities at LoopChicago.com/blogs. 

ROI of Executive Media Training

by Noeleen McGrath 

I took an interesting meeting with a CEO recently. Within five minutes, it became clear to me that I walked in with the wrong assumption i.e. that he understood the value of executive media training. He didn’t.

In fairness to me, media training is such a given in most company’s executive development programs that it didn’t occur to me that this CEO wouldn’t appreciate its worth.

The CEO wanted to be able to measure his return on investment. I explained that executive media training is not like SEO— an easily measured metric. I can’t promise you that it will deliver you x number of customers or this many impressions.

What I can tell you is that the ability to communicate your message in the media—across all platforms—is invaluable. And the inability to do so is at worst—catastrophic– and at best– a missed opportunity.

For example, if you’ve gone through an executive media training program– and you do well during a three minute interview on a top morning network news program— you can communicate your message to five million viewers for free. If you wanted to buy three minutes of advertising during that show—it would cost you at least $300,000.00.

If you have NOT been media trained–and you don’t do well during that interview—you’ve not only missed an opportunity to connect with millions of people in one fell swoop, but your performance might cause some people to think negatively about you, your company and/ or your brand. (Example: BP’s CEO Tony Hayward, “I want my life back.”)


Intangible Results

How do you measure confidence? You can’t. But you know it when you see it. And you know when you feel it. Nothing will build your self-esteem more regarding interviews than being media trained. There’s something powerful in knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way. The best executive media trainers make sure that you are prepared for every scenario.



Lastly, the CEO asked why he should work with me. I shared my favorite compliment from a client.

“While other media trainers I’ve worked with have left their students with a list of “do’s and don’ts” to worry about, Noeleen left them with the two things they really need: new skills and the confidence to use them.”

And that is what makes my executive media training services… priceless.


Learn from Noeleen at Career Smart 2017

Breaking Through in Today’s Workplace – Media Training Workshop with Noeleen McGrath
May 15, 2017, 6:00-7:15pm, Job Fair Studio Session 1 – Workshop 1

Register today!


About the Author

Noeleen McGrath is the Founder and President of McGrath Comm. They specialize in executive media training and executive presentation skills coaching. Noeleen was an award-winning television news journalist for 12 years at the network and local levels. Her years of interviewing executives convinced her to develop programs that emphasized messaging, on-camera and crisis communication skills. McGrath works primarily with executives in Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies.

Website: http://mcgrathcomm.com/.

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” – Miles Beresford Kington

by Gary Kash 

The combination of enhanced marketing knowledge and the wisdom of how to execute smartly will help you get where you want to be in 2022. Be at Brand Smart 2017.

“Too busy.” “Too many deadlines.” “I know what I need to know.” “Not enough return on my investment.” My sentiments before attending Brand Smart 2016. Wrong. What happened was I complemented my marketing arsenal with words of wisdom from the select few who had successfully navigated the roaring seas of change to make an impact. Hearing the case studies, the underlying strategies and how these were translated into superior execution that resulted in brand growth made me a smarter and better consultant.

Critically, I heard the same story from younger as well as more seasoned marketing professionals as we shared war stories, lies and cocktails. We learned. We grew. We got smarter. We were going to be better. It made me want to give back.

And, so I shall.

This year I will share a presentation in which I provide a new perspective on the critical importance of a powerful, emotional, positioning platform. And, you will have a blueprint so you can develop your own platform; one that connects consumers to your brand. Correct, it is not about connecting your brand to consumers; rather, having people wanting to connect with you.

Knowledge and wisdom gleaned in a single day from some of the best marketing minds in the world. Not a bad ROI. And, there may even be a fruit salad.


Brand Smart 2017

“The New Brand Journey: A Day of Master Classes”

April 27, 2017, 7:30am – 5:00pm

Gleacher Center at University of Chicago, 450 N Cityfront Plaza Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 




Gary Kash’s experience spans consulting, brand marketing, advertising and marketing research. As President of Insights in Marketing, his counsel was sought by companies like MillerCoors, CDW, Gerber, General Mills, Liberty Mutual, Pepsico and S.C. Johnson. Gary’s ability to guide and counsel others has resulted in him being mentor to many and a sought-after speaker. Recently retired from corporate America, Gary now leverages his wealth of successful consulting experiences to help businesses of all sizes and industries prosper. You can email him gary@gkmarketinginsights.com or reach him at: 847-217-4500.