Check out the interview with Seth Godin at Global PR Week 1.0 where he comments on the integration of blogging, branding and PR. Here's a snip that resonated with me:
PR MACHINE: McDonald’s vp of marketing, Larry Light, introduced a new marketing strategy which entails using many stories rather than employing one message to reach everyone. He called this new strategy “Brand Journalism.” How do you think this will affect McDonald’s public relations outreach and media management...will the company tell different stories to different media outlets if it wants?
SETH GODIN: I think the vision is just fine, IF McDonald's also changes the product. Spin isn't going to be enough. The challenge is going to be to make stuff worth talking about, and then giving the PR people the freedom to follow through.
PR MACHINE: ...If you say that the brand journalism conversation is going to happen with or "without you” don’t you think PR folks should attempt to manage it [the conversation] by continually staying involved with it (by interacting with it and perhaps attempting to proactively direct it)?
SETH GODIN: I think (but what do I know) that PR pros can add a huge amount of value by focusing on P, not R. By working with the company as the voice of the public, helping them understand how to make stuff worth talking about. Moving upstream ever closer to the core of the factory.
The last statement referred to PR pros, but it's applicable to marketers, sales, brand strategists, agencies... anyone working to promote a brand. Too often, companies without a remarkable core turn to PR, marketing and sales to drive the brand; but this is a band-aid approach that enables the execs to avoid the real issues. It's like the fad diets that promise weight loss without exercising. Sure, you might lose weight initially, but it's neither healthy nor sustainable. There are no quick fixes in life... not in health, and not in business.
There's often a hestitation on the part of sales and marketing to push back and say, "Sorry, but you guys need to create something remarkable before we can promote it." And for good reason. Because according to the standards of the day, this kind of push-back implies a lack of ability. Executives have been trained to think, "If you were really good, you could sell anything to anyone." Good promoters can sell ice to an eskimo... Right? So out of pride and ego, sales and marketing and PR take up the challenge... resulting in spin jobs and overpromises.
I admire the professional marketer, salesperson or account supervisor who is willing to stand up and say, "Sorry, but I can't promote this right now... but let's learn from customers how we can best improve this product and make it worth talking about."