What the $*%#$ is a Communications Firm?

by Brian Burns on 24 July 2010

in Uncategorized

As a writer, I’m cautious to use proper terminology. When I describe my company, in person or on paper, I’m careful to call it a communications firm, rather than better-understood terms such as a marketing firm, or a PR firm.

What does a communications firm do?

A communications firm helps companies hone and communicate their message, better reaching the target market for their products and services. In the case of this company, SpeakWell Communications, we focus almost exclusively on online communications.

How is a communications firm different than a marketing firm?

While a communications firm works to hone and communicate a company’s message, it rarely does the foundational work to establish where in the marketplace a company fits, or exactly who (and how) it aims to reach. These tasks — often done in the formation phases of a company — are best assigned to a marketing firm.

A marketing firm holds the expertise and resources to do extensive research, thorough competitive analysis, and complete business and marketing plan construction. While a communications firm can help clarify these concepts as needed — such as editing the content of a business plan — they most often come into the picture only when the plan is in place, and ready to execute.

How is a communications firm different than a PR firm?

While a marketing firm can lay the foundation for a company’s marketing outreach, and a communications firm can produce the content and drive for this outreach, a PR firm most often comes into play to provide the promotion and publicity to disseminate the content.

PR firms excel at tasks such as creating and maintain press and influencer relationships, distributing and promoting produced content, improving customer relations, and doing damage control. While a PR firm, in other words, acts as an ideal megaphone for the work of marketing firms and communications firms, PR firms do not replace the value they provide.

Do I need a communications firm?

The simple answer is yes; you do need the help of a communications firm if you want to reach your target market(s) as effectively as possible. However, you probably also need a marketing and PR firm, for the individual value they provide. In ideal cases, you can afford for the three to work in concert, combining to define your product and market, form and communicate your message, then disseminate and promote your message.

However, in the real world, if your name isn’t General Electric, you can probably only afford one of these, and ask them to do their best to fill in the gaps. While you might find this approach limiting, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it. The main challenge becomes finding the right firm, and having a productive ongoing discussion about their limitations (as well as their value).

If you’re unsure of how to proceed, or still require clarification about what a particular firm is best able to provide, contacting a reputable representative of one is a good first step.

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  • jamie keener

    very informative….well defined.

    • http://speakwellcommunications.com/ Brian Burns

      Thank you, Jamie! Definitions are the name of the game!

  • Pingback: Communication is Not Confusing()

  • Raven Cherisse

    extremely helpful, especially for those who are tying to determine what type of firms they'd be interested in working in

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