Social Marketing and Its Successful Application in Public Relations Campaigns


Behind the seemingly pushy and money-focused exterior, salespeople often utilize thoughtful, strategic methods to market their products. Automobile market researchers, for example, closely analyze the wants and needs of a particular audience, using the audience’s preferences and attitudes to craft a product and its subsequent campaign. This detailed environmental research, also known as social marketing, is as commonplace in public relations as it is in the business and marketing worlds. If used properly, public relations practitioners can target specific audiences, creating focused, well-researched campaigns.

Social marketing’s purpose is to encourage audiences to adopt social concepts or values. A concept or value is pushed and marketed the same way a car would be by utilizing the “Four Ps”: product, price, promotion and place.

  • Product = desired behavior of the target audience
  • Price = costs related to adopting desired response
  • Promotion = compensation for the costs of adopting the desired response
  • Place = availability of information regarding the desired response

Traditionally, social marketing applies for-profit marketing tactics to pro-social health development programs. For example, The Way to Clean Air campaign aimed to reduce air pollution by telling Toronto residents how to lessen their carbon footprint. After detailed environmental research regarding several different audiences, educational programs were implemented in schools, online and in the workplace. The “Four Ps” of The Way to Clean Air campaign were clearly outlined and accessible to residents, making the campaign’s outcome both successful and easily measurable.

  • Product = decrease air pollution
  • Price = use of energy efficient methods versus traditional energy methods
  • Promotion = application of tangible incentives (e.g., prizes and awards)
  • Place = availability of educational materials (e.g., brochures, leaflets and school curriculum activities)

The Way to Clean Air example illustrates social marketing at its best. It is through detailed research and an organized, strategic method that public relations practitioners can design focused campaigns. In addition to being well-constructed, The Way to Clean Air campaign contributed to significant energy and pollution reduction in the Toronto area. Social marketing is just one of many methods known for garnering such results and widespread practice.

(Information provided in this blog post is from “Useful Concepts from Other Theories,” chapter four of “Effective Health Risk Messages: A Step-by-Step Guide” by Dennis Martell, Gary Meyer and Kim Witte. Image provided by Francis Anderson’s blog, “Making a Connection.”)


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Welcome to Strategic PReparation

100_0242My name is Adrienne Webb, and I am a senior at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. I graduate in December, marking the start of a new era with new aspirations. It was not so long ago that my main goal was to graduate, and now that I have nearly accomplished it I feel both liberated and hungry for a much larger, demanding goal. Understanding social media should do the trick.

Recently, I went to Chicago for several informational interviews with PR firms and agencies. It was from these interviews that I developed a new awareness and appreciation for social media, as every one of my interviewers gave me the same bit of sage advice: “One of the biggest things we look for in entry-level applicants is social media experience. We want to see that you know your way around the digital world, and we will want you to prove it.” With this in mind, I saw a new challenge in sight. I decided to dive into the world of social media, actively engaging in blogs and following the realms of delicious, LinkedIn and Twitter.

This blog will not only facilitate my desire to utilize social media platforms, but it will also allow me to explore my interests within the PR industry. I aim to examine theories and strategies commonly practiced in PR and how they are properly applied or fatally ignored in campaigns. This blog’s content is intended for budding PR practitioners who are eager to join the ranks of their current or potential colleagues.

I look forward to the research and analyses ahead, as well as to my leap into unfamiliar territory: the world of social media.

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