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Integrated marketing communication and tools of public relation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 4385 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is a planned method for marketing and communication coupled with the basic Public Relation tools which includes sales promotion, direct mail, press releases, newsletters advertising and media. Tench and Yeomans (2006:502) proposed that Integrated Marketing Communication as a comprehensive, consistent, goal oriented, focused method for marketing and communication. Marketing industries often incorporate terms like advertising, PR, Sales promotion or Events promotion to explain what they do. In marketing, communication tools used to reach the target audience or a large number of audiences include the media which is in terms of TV, Radio, Newspaper, but it has come to include cinema, print media, direct marketing, phone marketing e.t.c. this ensures all forms of communication and message sent across are carefully linked and convey one message to the audience at large.

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This essay is aimed at exploring the use of integrated marketing by any two recent PR campaign, with regard to the use of different section of the media, and how successful they are in shaping the corporate image of that company and the limitation that will restrict their success, and I intend to use Garden Burger and Warner Bros as my case study.

Public Relations according to Jefkins (1998) consist of ‘all planned communication, outward, and inwards between an organisation and its public for the purpose of achieving specific objectives concerning mutual understanding’. This means public relation is there to change negative result to a positive one, they are there to effect change through lobbying, campaigning and through effective communication. Marketing in relation to PR according to the British Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM: 2004) ‘is the management process responsible for identifying anticipating and satisfying customer requirement profitably’ which is kind of a big challenge because it calls for an innovative, creative and imaginative mind. This is where the PR mindedness, skill and creativity are needed. For marketing to be successful responsible and goal oriented, the management needs to use PR tools to balance with modern market techniques this brings us into integrated marketing.

Integrated Marketing Communication according to Schultz and Kitchen (2000:25) ‘is a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute, and evaluate co-ordinated measurable, persuasive brand communication programs overtime with consumers, customers, prospects and other targeted, relevant external and internal audience’. Which makes the concept of communication wide, because the message is not only to consumers alone but to a wider audience, talking about more than a million of audiences depending on the media use and what is being marketed?

Black (1995) proposes that ‘the concept of integrated marketing communication is based on the idea of mixing together the various strands of marketing communication mix into a cohesive and seamless entity’. This is because advertising is not only the tool for communication but with the incorporation of PR, direct marketing and sales promotion is been mixed with advertising to ensure better understanding of message, experience and awareness with individuals.

Smith (1997) widens this concept and gives three definitions but all three definitions have one thing in common which is communication.

‘ Those that refer to all forms marketing communications

‘ A strategic management process based on economy, efficiency and effectiveness

‘ The ability to apply communication in any department of an organisation

In relation to this Black (1995) asserted that ‘strategic communication is a tool for successful integrated marketing implementation which ensures the development of consistent and mutually supporting message strategies and this can only be done with the incorporation of PR’. In his own ideology, Black believes that PR stands and will continue to stand as a corrective tool to marketing approach. The reason for this is because PR brings a balance between the management decision and marketing decision and weighing it to avoid terrible consequences. Pitta and Weisgal (2006) emphasize that ‘it is the benefit of harnessing synergy across multiple media to build brand equity of product and services.

Still on Integrated marketing communication, (MMC: 2007) multimedia marketing communication concludes that for the harmonization of communication, promotional tools should be integrated. Promotional tools such as Advertising, Sales promotion, Direct mail PR.

In other to achieve an integrated approach to marketing communication, it is important to have some kind of frame work around which strategies or tactics would be developed. A number of models where developed by professionals and the adoption of the model suggest the success of the business because they are based on the approaches to market planning.

Marketing communication framework: created by Fill (2002)

The plan in the above chart is the promotional plan embarked on by organisations according to Fill (2002) they are usually two which are, SOSTAC and MCPF, the diagram above is the MCPF and it consist of the following plan,

‘ Context analysis

‘ Promotional goal, aim and objectives

‘ Promotional/ Marketing Strategy (Push, Pull, Profile Strategy)

‘ Communication Mix (the 4p’s: product, place, price, promotion)

‘ Implementation and evaluation

To structure a good marketing plan, management should know

‘ Where they are.

‘ Where they want to go to.

‘ And how they want to get there.

IMC Process Model describes how the messages are sent from the sender to the receivers. There are four basic components; all of them are vital elements of the marketing communication process. The sender, the message, the media (which carries the message e.g. prospectus, news paper) and the receivers the audiences for the message. The process is quite complicated one can involve miscommunication through distortion and noise as the sender decides on the message to be send (encoding) and the receivers trying to make sense of them (decoding) . The message is prone to face some problems when transmitted, it may not be received, it may be received but not from the targeted audience, it may be received from the targeted audience but no action from the recipients follows.

RABOSTIC planning model it is an acronym for: Research and analysis, Audience, Budget, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Implementation, and Control. These elements are part of the Research and Decision-making Cycle. The model consists of two important parts, the research and decision making cycle which includes the initial stage of analysis and proceeds to decision making, action and evaluation of outcomes. The second one important part is the information stream which is a constant flow of information through out all the model stages and in this way it ensures a prompt monitoring, evaluation or modification of actions. Objectives, Strategies and Tactics included in the model can be used to shift audience towards the hierarchy of effects. People are being moved through the stages of awareness, interest, desire, action (AIDA model) (David Picton et al., 2005).

IMC Mix Model it forms a link between all the marketing communication elements. There are many marketing communication activities which they are called marketing communications mix or promotional mix. There are various approaches to classify the mix, the most basic four classifications (David Picton et al., 2005) are:

Advertising: The use of paid mass media, by an interested party, to deliver marketing communications message to target audiences.

Public relations: The planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.

Sales promotions: Is covering a plethora of promotional activities, excluding advertising, PR and personal selling. Sales promotion is associated with free offers, price deals, premium offers, and other promotions including merchandising, point-of-sale displays, leaflets and product literature.

Personal selling: Is oral communication with potential buyers of a product with the intention of making a sale. It focuses initially on developing a relationship with the potential buyer and continues with the attempt to sell.

There are many overlapping marketing communication activities, what is important to the mix is these activities to be integrated.

Marketing communications development

In order to develop an effective marketing communications eight steps have to be followed:

1. Identification of the target audience

2. Determination of the communication objectives

3. Formation of the message

4. Communication channels selection

5. Determination of the total communications budget

6. Selection of the communications mix

7. Measurement of the communications results

8. Re-plan and manage the IMC process.

The communications process management required for IMC is a concept that recognizes the added value of a consistent plan that underpins the strategic roles of a variety of communications functions and bonds these functions together in order to provide precision, uniformity, and maximum communications impact through the flawless integration of distinct messages (Philip Kotler, 2002).

Marketing communication effects models

Many marketing and promotional managers recognize the need to set detailed communications objectives and their vital role as operational guidelines to the testing, planning, execution, and evaluation of the promotional campaign. Communications objectives are the criteria used in the DAGMAR (Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results) (Russell Colley, 1961) approach to set important advertising goals and objectives, which has become one of the most influential approaches to the advertising planning process. Many marketing planners use this model as a basis for setting objectives and assessing the effectiveness of their campaigns.

DAGMAR also diversified advertiser’s attention on the value of using communications instead on the sales-based objectives to determine advertising effectiveness and facilitate the measurement of the response to assess a campaign’s impact. This leads to less subjective results and helps to establish better relationships between the client and the agency (George. E. Belch, Michael. A. Belch, 2003).

AIDA model (Elmo Lewis) stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. This model suggests that buyers move from one stage to another in order to reach the final act of consumption. In sequence stage models like this there are difficulties in reaching the desired level of awareness in order to proceed to the next stage and therefore in consumption too (David Picton et al., 2005).

Promotion Mix Strategies

The two primary promotion mix strategies are push promotion and pull promotion. A push strategy implicates ‘pushing’ the product through distribution channels to final consumers. The producer manages its marketing activities through distribution channels to persuade them to bring the product and to promote it to final consumers.

The introduction of the IMC has affected both agencies and their clients. During the 1980s many of the large agencies realized that their clients were shifting their promotional budget away from traditional advertising to other forms of promotion and began developing IMC capabilities. Some did this through mergers and acquisitions and became superagencies consisting of advertising, public relations, sales promotion, and direct-response agencies (George. E. Belch, Michael. A. Belch, 2003). Omnicom a worldwide advertising agency also underwent some circumstances which forced an evolution due to the fact that ‘the world has changed, the nature and forms of communication have changed, and, therefore, the practice of developing and managing marketing and communication must change as well’ (Kitchen and Schultz, 2000).

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Omnicom and other advertising agencies invested and organized to provide all communications capabilities in addition to traditional advertising services, such as sales promotion, public relations, collateral materials, and direct mail. This shift was motivated by economics since budgets were moving away from media advertising to other resources, and agencies wanted to retain that income. Although clients were not confident that agencies could provide satisfactory specialized services and preferred to turn to experts for special services. Also if the client decided to replace the agency which provided specialised services as well, the transition process would be considerably more complicated (George. E. Belch, Michael. A. Belch, 2003). Omnicom success relied mainly to its client centric approach and strategy of building a geographically balanced network of operations and entering into different business sectors in various regions.

Companies advertised have also been affected from the introduction of IMC. Skoda, which is now fully owned by the VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group), had to integrate its functions and communications since Skoda cars were perceived as cheap low quality cars and now VAG wanted Skoda cars to be considered as quality, safe and good for value. When Skoda launched the first car in association with VAG, the sales where disappointing since the sigma of owning a Skoda has not been yet eliminated, even though this was a higher quality built car. A new IMC campaign was necessary to change that perception, advertising media like TV, press and posters agencies pursued above and below the line push and pull strategies also opinion forming journalists were targeted to increase media coverage and direct marketing. Skoda expanded to other marketing communication activities, a website was developed which became very popular and techniques like exposure marketing involved displaying cars in shopping centres and events. Retailers also upgraded their premises and showrooms in order to line up with the new image of the company. Before the launch of the new IMC campaign Skoda took a research which helped to form marketing communications objectives, strategies and tactics (David Picton et al., 2005).

Another motor company BMW Mini cooper also faced problems while launching MINI cooper and MINI cooper S in the US market. Cars like SUVs dominate in the US market; a small car like Mini cooper had little chances to reach high volume sales with traditional advertising. An IMC campaign took place, MINIs where placed on top of huge SUVs and toured around the country which meant to mimic a giant roof rack carrying weekend toys such as bicycles, canoes, windsurfs, snowboards. Also in sports events MINIs where placed inside stadiums and printed brochures were handed out with a web address where people could customise the car and sign up to participate in other promotional events. Also traditional media was used, like magazines TV and news papers in a non-traditional way. The campaign attracted more than 115.000 people through the web site and thousands of MINIs were pre-ordered even before they were available in dealer showrooms. BMW combined different marketing communication elements to build an IMC mix model which had to create an image of the MINIs under a different spectrum. This image was transmitted as a plethora of messages through different communication channels. Although these messages were different they were consistent with the image of the product and with the positioning strategy of BMW (Philip Kotler, 2002).


In this part I will be exploring the use of IMC by two recent PR campaign, the media use and how it was successful in shaping the corporate image of each company. I will be using Garden Burger and Warner Bros as my case study.


Client: Garden Burger

Challenge: Garden Burger is a vegetarian restaurant/ company it was founded in 1983 in Oregon America. It is owned by Paul Wenner, for a long time now the company has been assumed to produce meatless product for vegetarians who are mostly women. The problem here is to change that perception of their product being for women alone but for men too. With the engagement of a PR agency they tried achieving this aim.

Strategy: The process for going about this is not really a big one since it is a small company, what should be in mind is that it should be in a cost effective manner, and the company should have the following in mind

‘ A good marketing plan

‘ Employ the 4 ‘p’ as a communication strategy which is product, place, price and promotion.

Target Audience: The promotion was targeted to men, between 25-40 years of age.

The campaign style used by the PR firm was a user generated content and participation, and in a short while a good result was reached and they achieved their aim. The campaign was named ‘Real Men Eat Garden Burger’ how it was done; it was like an in house promotion for everybody that came into the store was told about it, the media used was the internet and direct marketing. Customers that come into the restaurant were told about the promotion, about sending in pictures of the real men that they knew and they stand a chance of winning a prize at the end of the promotion. They meant real men in the sense that a man that is capable of doing everything from cooking, doing household chores, e.t.c. With the use of the internet (media) lots of pictures of men were sent and each had a reason for why they think the contestant is a real man. That was not all they incorporated interactive website competitions, which included games, questions and answer into the contest so people can log on to their site for a long time and answer questions which will give them a results between manly man and girly man.


The campaign and promotion was a success, particularly for the customers because they were enthusiastic about the prize at the end of the day. The winner of this promotion was a marathon runner whose leg has been amputated, according to him; he takes care of his ailing wife at home and he has been eating garden burger before the brand promotion started. His prize includes 1year supply of garden burger, flat screen a gull and party for 25.

The PR tool/ media used here was the traditional type. The direct communication (website and direct in-store promotion) used here added to the success of the campaign because sometimes direct marketing or promotion stands the chance of convincing people rather than the other communication tools. The promotion got up to 200 photos which were more than what was expected, and the website had about 150,000 pages viewed, they had 75,000 votes and a 1000 people commented on the pictures and promotion. With the website marketing and publicity from TV, branding newsletter and Radio Kellogg’s acquired this little company. (Brand week: 2008)

Warner Bros PR Campaign:

Client: Warner Bros

Challenge: Warner Bros is one of the world’s largest producers of films, cartoons and television entertainment for kids; it is a subsidiary of Time Warner in which it’s headquarter is in UK. In December last year Warner Bros launched a film into the cinemas called I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith, on the 26th of December in which was proved the 6th best film in the world in 2007. The challenge here was how to promote the film before it gets to the cinema and how they will get their target audience to visit the site to download and watch the movie trailer for free.

Target Audience: the audience for this promotion was people from age 15-25 years and the reason for this is that they are the ones most likely to visit the cinema to watch movies.

Media Used: Direct Media, through the phone (mobile marketing), the reason for this is because people move about with their phones.

In UK Warner Bros went about the process by incorporating something experimental using Bluetooth technology. They had an arrangement with Vue and Cineworld the major cinemas in UK by distributing movie contents to cinema addicts. It was like if the Bluetooth of a phone was on when an individual was at the cinema foyer the phone automatically receives a notification about what is about to happen and if the message is accepted they get information of the movie, a free download, a 20 seconds free movie trailer and a link to the mobile internet site of the film. This got people in the cinema at that time really excited; they turned their Bluetooth on and received free download plus everything that came with it.

All this accounts to a good communication strategy to the target audience for the campaign yielded like 400,000 downloads during the course of the movie that night. The success of this movie promotion was successful because of the tool integrated in the communication with the desired public and the delivery of the content in which was considered as fun to that age group, by researching into what motivates them. The success of the campaign will make this company want to do more in the future. (Brand republic: 2008)


Image connotes reflection. The corporate image of a company means the reflection of that company, how this particular company is viewed by all, and the public especially. How has PR helped to shape the corporate image of these companies? PR has helped in shaping the images of the company with its strategic communication, and creativity. It also incorporated the communication tools, the push, pull and profile strategy and the 4p’s effectively and efficiently (product, price, promotion, and place). The reason for effective communication is to change how the organization is viewed by the internal / external stakeholders and public. How is this done? They take the companies story and objectives to the right audience, the story and achievement is told through a mix of creativity and taken to the right channel and media. Like the case of Garden burger the in-house staffs had a responsibility of building the company’s image by doing everything that counts in satisfying the customers, they promote the company’s image by working effectively.

Vicki Staveacre president of, International Association of Business Communication (IABC) UK stated four ways of excellent PR tools which can help improve the image of the company.

‘ PR tools help to manage and support strategic objective of the company although it may threaten already existing objectives and approaches it stands a chance of producing a constructive result.

‘ It creates and nurtures good relationship with the public both internally and externally. This is the basic contribution PR can do; they also try to broaden the scope of their job beyond communication.

‘ It makes a direct contribution to the bottom line by preventing the cost of conflict

‘ It helps the company make money by enhancing relationship with its customers (as quoted in White and Mazur, 1995:33).

In relation to this a good PR tool should uphold the interest and views of the audience to create good understanding and a good corporate image. The two case studies I used shows how PR has helped in shaping the image of the companies with the different strategies and the interpersonal relationship with the customers at all levels.


‘ Based on the international level, there is cultural sensitivity. Recent studies by Kwintessential Limited show that culture sometimes stands as a stumbling block to the success of a PR. For example Pepsodent tried selling its toothpaste in southeast Asian and emphasized that it whitens the teeth, but they found out the locals of that country actually use it to blacken their teeth. If they had done proper research before the promotion of this product, it would have been a success instead of a failure.

‘ Lack of communication strategy, or misleading strategy. This can happen when messages sent through different channels are perceived differently or misunderstood; this is called lack of uniformity of message. Harrison (1995: 112) affirms that for communication to be successful it has to be appropriate, to the organisation, audience and culture. For if the method chosen is inappropriate, the message will lack credibility and will simply be ignored.

‘ Lack of adequate research. For a campaign to be successful there is the need to know where you are going, the target audience for a particular brand or product, and how they will be reached. A campaign can only be successful if adequate research is carried out based on the target audience. On research Harrison(1995: 65) suggest to achieve a good campaign proper research has to be carried out to know what perception the target audience has about that organisation, and what their attitude and behaviour are. Or else the company will risk having a bad campaign. For example Warner Bros had a good campaign due to the fact that they researched into what motivates their target audience.

‘ Lack of funds / or backup plan: for example if a company embarks on a brand campaign an along the line they suddenly run out of money, that can actually crumble the campaign or the brand image. Usually when a company embarks on a campaign a large sum of money should be laid out for the campaign for instant out of 100%, 20% should be laid aside in case of mishap.


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