Sharpen Your PR Pencils!

August 26, 2007 Public Relations 10 comments

Uber marketing guru Professor Philip Kotler

I had the fortune of attending a recent conference featuring one of the world’s top management guru Philip Kotler. Apparently, he is a museum fan too and may feature the National Museum of Singapore in his next book. Woo hoo!

At the lecture, Professor Kotler shared about the rising importance of PR versus advertising and gave us a new acronym – PENCILS – in which to desribe the dimensions of PR. What does it mean?

P – Publications: These are your brochures, annual reports, newsletters, yearbooks, corporate kits.

E – Events: Organising the kind of events to get folks interested in your company.

N – News: Getting a lot of good talk in the various media channels (both old and new).

C – Community relations: Companies tend to be better regarded if they are accepted by the community.

I – Identity media: Business cards, stationery, boilerplates, tag lines, uniforms, and codes of conduct.

L – Lobbying: This would relate to issues of government relations, activism, meeting of legislators.

S – Social investment: PR should be a conduit for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities for issues that a company cares about. A prime example is Body Shop.

To bring it all into context, do note that PR is one of the key tools in the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) strategy of any company. It falls under one of the Push-Pull-Profile Strategies of IMC, which are namely:

Push – Marketing communication largely through channel partners (B2B). This is largely through incentivising your distribution channels through trade discounts, Point Of Sales materials, sales tools etc. Largely done through the sales force.

Pull – Marketing communication largely to end consumers (B2C). This is usually traditional advertising as we know it, as well as roadshows and direct sales targeted at consumers.

Profile – Communications to key stakeholders, and this is where PR comes in. PENCILS will come in handy here.

I thought that its neat that PR now has a greater focus compared to advertising. Traditionally, most firms have considered PR (or corporate communications) as a poor cousin to advertising, which gets the lion’s share of the budget. A greater focus on PR and its accompanying focus on the reputation and integrity of an organisation will only do organisations good in the longer run. Its no longer just what you say, but what you do that matters.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Hey Walter! Thanks for sharing! Its true that even until today, most companies (especially new startups) focus on product and advertising that they leave out the PR element that is required for long-lasting customer loyalty and relationships.

  2. woah nice one brudder, i am going to show my bosses this man. Think they will pass me a pencil and paper shortly and take notes while they think through our comms plans using PENCIL…keke 😉

  3. bitbot,

    Its an age-old tussle that has daunted companies. Businesses after all thrive to make money, and sometimes a commercial point of view isn’t necessarily good for PR (unless you are a big public-listed firm). In the years to come, I hope that more companies will pay attention to their reputation in parallel with their revenue. Customers are getting smarter each day!

  4. natasshea,

    Yep I do attend seminars, and have gone for quite a few in my whole lifetime. I wouldn’t say that this was the best but at least I did learn a thing or two.

  5. Hey thanks for sharing abt the Kotler lecture, bro! One of my bosses was there too. I heard the entrace ticket to this was quite expensive but that it was packed nonetheless!

  6. Hey, I have been wanting to comment on the Pencils since you last told me. This is cool post! thank you for sharing!

    Although PR is gaining more recognition and slightly more money from marketing budget, there are, unfortunately, a lot of companies that wants to do “PR” but has absolutely no idea what PR can or cannot do.

    Agencies should attempt to send those clients for media/ PR training to understand (1) how to manage an agency (2) what is PR about.

    Haa. this is separate topic altogether now. 🙂 keep sharing, you! Enjoy reading your posts!!!

  7. priscilla,

    Agree with you about the age-old PR versus marketing debate. Increasingly more and more people realise the merits of PR but unfortunately treat it just like another advertising tool. Clearly it isn’t. I see its value more in reputation management and profiling, which is gaining importance in this day and age.

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