Public Relations is not marketing. It may seem like a new career stemmed from advertising and current social media. It may seem like a shield to counter the sword of bad press. Public Relations is more like the white blood cells of a company, keeping it healthy inside and out. Some of our Humphrey Fellows are pursuing this career.
The Humphrey Fellows were visited by Janice Sweeter and Scott Pansky on Monday. Both of these individuals come from advertising backgrounds, but they were able to share their leadership experience in the world of public relations and marketing. Pansky is co-founder and a senior partner of the Allison and Partners, a PR company founded from idea’s on a cocktail napkin. The Fellows were given some insider scoop on the success of cause-related marketing, a way for companies to let their customers feel good when they buy a product. Out of three water bottles on the conference table, Pansky asked which water would a customer buy. The answer was the company that makes the consumer feel good about themselves. How to do that? Donate a dollar to place in need. Customers will buy the product at the same price or a little more to help the cause. Cause-related marketing is much more complicated, but for the time given, it was a good summary.
Janice Sweeter talked about the history of public relations in the United States. It was actually started by a nephew of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud named Edward Bernays. Bernays defined the role of the PR representative, becoming a guru over the century of his life. Janice spoke about the power of propaganda, being able to get millions of dollars for efforts in World War II and having every American turn off their lights for one night. He also convinced women that smoking Lucky Strikes was to carry “Torches of Freedom.” Sweeter is doing extensive research to fill in gaps in Bernays life.