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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract
Introduction
Literature Review
Methodology
Analysis
Discussion
Bibliography

Integrated Marketing Communication: A Public Relations Perspective

Abstract

Integrated marketing communication is evolving as a viable concept primarily on the premise that “customers and stakeholders automatically integrate brand messages” (Duncan & Moriarty, 1998, p. 4). According to James Hutton (1996), “Of the three key disciplines involved in the debate—advertising, public relations, and marketing—it might be said that advertising has taken the offensive, public relations has been on the defensive, and marketing, for the most part, has been on the sidelines … The greatest conflict has been felt by public relations educators and practitioners who claim that IMC [integrated marketing communications] represents a form of marketing imperialism insofar as it seeks to subordinate much or all of public relations under the IMC umbrella” (p. 155).
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Introduction

Public relations practitioners often oppose the use of integrated marketing communication, although excellent public relations inherently should utilize aspects of integrated marketing communication (Strempel, 2001, p. 7). This response is most notably recognized in the statement, made by Ehling, White and Grunig in Excellence in Public Relations and Communications Management, “the public relations function of excellent organizations exists separately from the marketing function and excellent public relations departments are not subsumed into the marketing function” (Miller & Rose, 1994). According to Clarke L. Caywood (1997) in the Handbook of Strategic Public Relations and Integrated Communications, “public relations is the integration of an organization’s new and continuing relationships with stakeholders including customers by managing all communications contacts with the organization that create and protect the brand and reputation of the organization” (p. xi). In this sense, the advertising, marketing, sales promotion, management, investor relations, and internal communications should impact the decisions made by the public relations practitioner and vice versa. Integrated marketing communication has not been uniquely defined and is often viewed by public relations practitioners as assigning all communication functions to the public relations or marketing departments in order to cut costs, downsize, or reorganize, diminishing the importance of the independent roles of advertising, marketing and public relations (Warner, 1992, p. 15). “This shift in focus is needed due to the following developments: audience fragmentation, emerging media technologies, improvement in one-on-one media and the continued proliferation of mass media” (Brody, 1994, p. 20). Therefore, the question should not be whether integrated marketing communication is right for a particular organization, but rather how integrated marketing communication can best benefit and utilize available resources, power, and control (Schultz, 1996, p. 139).

Public relations practitioners are involved in two types of integration, on a micro level within the public relations function, integrating stakeholder relationships and communication methods, and on a broader macro level in terms of organizational structure, objectives, policies and publics. Although, the public relations practitioner must identify, build and maintain organization-public relationships, especially those that may not be effectively or efficiently developed through integrated marketing communication, public relations can greatly benefit from the integrated marketing communication process. Reich (1998) emphasizes, “It is this [the organization-public] relationship that provides the glue for bonding [customer] loyalty and sustained long-term revenues” (p. 26).

Dr. Michael Turney (2001), a public relations professor at Northern Kentucky University, notes the emerging trend of IMC as evident in the popular textbook The Practice of Public Relations by Fraser Seitel: The fifth edition (1992) had two separate chapters, one called Public Relations Marketing and the other called Public Relations Advertising … They clearly treated public relations and marketing as distinct fields even though their interests occasionally paralleled one another and their practitioners might on occasion, use one another’s tools. The sixth edition (1995) had a single chapter entitled Communications Cross-Training which emphasized the public relations practitioners’ need to understand and be able to work with marketing concepts, tools, and concerns. It also pointed out that marketers who wanted to be on the cutting edge of their field needed to learn about and be able to use public relations concepts and tools. The current seventh edition (1998) has a single chapter entitled Integrated Marketing Communication which warns that future practitioners will need to use a far wider array of communication tools and strategies than in the past if they are to survive professionally. These subtle changes illustrate the 30-year debate over integrated marketing communication.
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Significance of Study

According to Staubhaar and LaRose (2000), “the vast number of technological options has helped to create a phenomenon known as integrated marketing communication which encourages the use of virtually all communication channels” (p.353). This study challenges the theoretical assumptions and common beliefs of integrated marketing communication. As business processes and management styles evolve, the theories on which these processes are based must be reevaluated so that they too may evolve. Integrated marketing communication is approached very differently in practice and in academe and often undervalued in public relations. According to the Journal of Integrated Communication, integrated marketing communication is “the management of all organized communications to build positive relations with customers and other stakeholders.” In this sense public relations is critical to the success of integrated marketing communication, but integrated marketing communication may be neglected in public relations due to the varying and vague assumptions made about integrated marketing communication practices.
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Organization of Thesis

Chapter 2, the literature review, provides insight into the current environment in which integrated marketing communication is practiced and a summary of the literature discussing integrated marketing communication prior to 1990. It was at this time that various groups of communicators began to work together to define the integrated marketing concept. Chapter 3, Methodology, explains the qualitative research design, the unit of analysis, the collection of data, and the method of analysis of the data. Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the study. And Chapter 5 discusses several issues that arise from the literature including legal and ethical implications inherent in integrated marketing communication and how the excellence theory of public relations enhances integrated marketing communication.
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Literature Review

This chapter traces the early understanding of integrated marketing communications as discussed in published academic journals, trade magazines and textbooks prior to 1990. Although Felton defines integrated marketing in his 1959 article “Making the Marketing Concept Work,” it was not until Young & Rubicam Inc. developed a more tangible image of integrated marketing with its “whole egg” concept during the 1970s that the integrated marketing communications concept gained significant attention (Smith, 1993, p. 28). In late 1989, the faculty of the Medill School at Northwestern University was contacted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) to begin developing a definition of integrated marketing communication from the 4As point of view (Schultz, 1993, p. 17). Their study found that 70 percent to 80 percent of top management and executives “support the concept of integration and believe that it would increase the effect and impact of their marketing communications programs” (Harris, 1993, p. 4). It was this study that started both the academics and professionals throughout each communication discipline talking about the importance of understanding integrated marketing communication.

The definition developed by the Medill School and the 4As became a commonly used definition by members of each discipline when discussing the concept of integrated marketing communication. The literature during this period is very limited and the authors often do not directly state that they are addressing integrated marketing communication. The practices, strategies and techniques described prior to 1990 in this literature were those that evolved into the integrated marketing communication concept and the heated debate surrounding the topic today.
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Integrated Marketing Communication Prior to 1990

Arthur P. Felton, a marketing professional, defines integrated marketing in his 1959 article “Making the Marketing Concept Work:” A corporate state of mind that insists on the integration and coordination of all of the marketing functions which, in turn, are melded with all other corporate functions, for the basic objective of producing maximum long-range corporate profits (p. 55). This definition set the foundation for future discussions of integrating and coordinating marketing and communication efforts. Felton (1959) describes the growing complexity that competitive marketing demands. He states that successful integrated marketers must be able to think analytically and have the ability to identify problems for research while developing plans and policies.Integrated marketers must also be able to integrate and coordinate all marketing functions with other business activities and sit down with the organizations management team, board of directors, attorneys, financial officers, and “put the interests of the corporation first, while representing the broad marketing aspects of the business” (p. 57). Felton (1959) describes that the failings of integrated marketing are derived from incomplete integration and the lack of coordination and teamwork.

The next prominent discussion of an integrated marketing program is illustrated through the works of Henry A. Bullock, a marketing professional, in his two-part study on consumer motivations in 1961. Bullock (1961) creates the framework for and challenges businessmen to create integrated marketing programs to incorporate the buying patterns and motivations “that appeals equally to blacks and whites” (p. 89). This study is one of the first to incorporate the consumers’ needs and opinions into the integrated marketing process. Although Bullock’s study focuses on the distinction between marketing to whites versus blacks and not integrated marketing communication, he builds on Felton’s idea of integration and coordination by adding the element of the distinctive consumer concerns; thus starting the evolution of integrated marketing communication as what is known today as the outside-in process. This process starts with the customer or stakeholder and “works inwards toward the marketer, brand, product, or service” (Schultz, 1994, p. 35).

Technology has also spurred the evolution of integrated marketing communication. In 1963 James R. Bright, a marketing professional, authored an article that discusses the impact of technological change on the society, especially marketing and other business processes. He states “opportunities in marketing will increase greatly … to capitalize on the marketing potential requires an aggressive, active attitude” (p. 85) on the part of the company. Norman H. Anderson (1971), also a marketing professional, explores the theoretical aspects of the technological advancements as they relate to the society. He does so by exploring the theory of information integration and the effects on the attitudes and social judgments of individuals. Anderson’s study concludes, “that integration theory has had reasonable success in the areas of learning, perception, judgment, decision making, and personality, as well as attitude change” (1971, p. 171). These conclusions support the evolution of integrating and coordinating the marketing and communication functions including both advertising and public relations.

By 1978 the debate as to the roles of marketing and public relations within an integrated marketing program and the organization as a whole was heating up. Kotler and Mindak (1978), public relations professionals, discuss these growing concerns: Where does marketing end and public relations begin? Where does public relations end and public affairs begin? The increasingly fuzzy boundaries have led to conflict among these departments. Usually they choose either to operate independently with little teamwork or to bicker over resources and strategies (p. 13). Kotler and Mindak (1978) explain that both marketing and public relations are external functions of an organization—primarily concerned with external audiences. The authors describe marketing and public relations as both fairly new disciplines; but as they reach maturity they evolve into five different relationship models:
  • The Separate but Equal Functions is the most traditional view in which marketers remain profit-oriented and focus on the satisfaction of consumers while public relations “exists to produce goodwill in the company’s various publics” (p. 17) so as to not interfere with the organization’s profit-making ability.
  • The Equal but Overlapping Functions is a view that marketing and public relations are separate functions that share some commonalities and interests such as producing publicity for new products.
  • Marketing as the Dominant Function is a view in which some marketers believe that public relations should exist within the marketing function. These marketers “argue that public relations exists essentially to make it easier for the firm to market its goods … [not] simply to do good deeds” (p. 18).
  • Public Relations as the Dominant Function is a view in which marketing is a subset of public relations. Some professionals believe that an organization’s “future depends critically on how it is viewed by key publics, including stockholders, financial institutions, unions, employees, community leaders, as well as customers” (p. 18).
  • Marketing and Public Relations as the Same Function is a view that the two functions are converging: “They both talk in terms of publics and markets; they both recognize the need for market segmentation; they both acknowledge the importance of market attitudes, perceptions, and images in formulating programs; and the primacy of a management process consisting of analysis, planning, implementation, and control” (p. 18).
  • Kotler and Mindak (1978) state, “the neat and tidy divisions separating marketing and public relations are breaking down” (p. 19). The authors believe that both functions are essential to any organization, but how the functions interact is still up for debate.

    According to George S. Day, a marketing professional, the lack of cohesion and commitment cause organizational strategy failures. Day (1986) states, “Strategy failures often boil down to the whole being less than the sum of the parts. Too often we have seen individually competent departments working at cross-purposes with one another, and behaving as though their success were coming at the expense of some other department” (p. 62). Integrated marketing communication should be ingrained in the overall organizational strategy. Day believes that ultimately the lack of cohesion results from the absence of integration.

    Kenneth G. Hardy (1987), a marketing professional, builds on Day’s discussion by explaining “that specialization allows people to develop more skills which should enable more effective performance … any specialized tasks creates a need to reintegrate these specialized tasks back into the overall activity and objectives of the firm” (p. 10). Although Hardy focuses on sales versus marketing, he provides a solid understanding of the importance of integration. Hardy suggests that these tasks (publicity, positioning, branding, etc.) fall on a continuum, not solely with one function or another. According to Hardy (1987), “Specialization by sales function and market function is established to get a job done; however, without coordination and integration, the sales/marketing gap defeats the purpose of the specialization” (p. 13). The ideas of specialization and the task continuum seem to lend themselves to Kotler and Mindak’s “the equal but overlapping functions” view of the marketing and public relations relationship within an organization.

    Accordingly, in an editorial published by the Harvard Business Review, public relations scholar Doug Newsom discusses the evolution of the megamaketing concept into the integrated communication campaign. Newsom (1986) states, “A unified communication campaign tying together public relations, advertising, and marketing enhances credibility. It presents the institution as one voice and coordinates corporate objectives” (p. 170). Elizabeth Toth and Nick Trujillo, also public relations scholars, concur that corporate communications must be “re-invented” in order to keep pace in the information age. They state, “that changes have occurred and continue to occur in corporate America which call for new ways of conceptualizing and operationalizing the process of corporate communications” (Toth & Trujillo, 1987, p. 50). Robert D. Gilbreath (1987), a marketing professional, explains the downfall of the megamarketing concept, “Rather than succumb to the allure of fixed constants, astute businesses are now more than ever synchronizing their strategies and their operations with the phenomenon of change itself. The new strategic focus is on flux, not fixity” (p. 44). Gilbreath explains that the organization’s image is equally as important as the product or service being offered. Image is typically a concern for public relations, more so than marketing, supporting Newsom’s claim that integrated communication is more effective than magamarketing within the corporate communication strategy.

    Ralf Thomas Kreutzer, a marketing professional, discusses the concept of integration within the marketing mix on a global scale. Kreutzer (1988) emphasizes the need to evaluate and examine the targeted publics and their society and that the issues at stake include, but are not limited to, “the positive and negative effects on the countries and customers you have considered and the possible consequences to your company” (p. 28). Kreutzer believes that only through the integration of corporate marketing communication can the marketing mix be successful on the global front. Lewis C. Winters, an advertising scholar, further discusses the impact of integrated communication on both local and global audiences as well as latent and active publics. In the article “Does it Pay to Advertise to Hostile Audiences with Corporate Advertising,” Winters (1988) states, “people form their attitudes toward [organizations] based more on their perceptions of its products and service than on perceptions of its social conduct or monetary contributions” (p. 11). Winters found that in order to create a successful advertising campaign toward hostile audiences the attitudes and beliefs of the hostile public toward the organization and its product or service must be changed. Working with Chevron, Winters illustrates how the lines between advertising, marketing and public relations are blurred to create this type of attitudinal change, becoming an integrated communication campaign.

    P. Rajan Varadarajan and Anil Menon, marketing professionals, also illustrate the blurring of these lines in their article on cause-related marketing. The authors (1988) state, “Firms have long attempted to enhance their corporate image, cultivate a favorable attitude in the minds of consumers, and/or realize incremental sales gains prominently advertising their acts of philanthropy and sponsorship of worthy causes” (p. 60). Corporate image is typically a concern of public relations while brand image is typically a concern of marketing, however, cause-related marketing often increases both the corporate image and sales. Is cause-related marketing public relations or marketing? Varadarajan and Menon (1988) explain that there is not a single objective of cause-related marketing, but several, including “gaining national visibility, enhancing corporate image, thwarting negative publicity, pacifying customer groups, generating incremental sales, promoting repeat purchases, promoting multiple unit purchases, promoting more varied usage, increasing brand awareness, increasing brand recognition, enhancing brand image, reinforcing brand image, broadening customer base, reaching new market segments and geographic markets, and increasing level of merchandising activity at the retail level for the brand” (p. 60). These objectives are varied and would best be achieved through a combination of advertising, marketing and public relations tactics. Public relations professionals are primarily concerned with the organization’s reputation, stakeholder relationships, and media interaction (Guth & Marsh, 2000, p. 6). The first five objectives described by Varadarajan & Menon (1988)—gaining national visibility, enhancing corporate image, thwarting negative publicity, pacifying customer groups—each deal with these very specific public relations concerns.

    According to Herschell Gordon Lewis (1988), an advertising professional, integrated marketing would be the “red-hot buzz phrase of 1989” (p. 52). Lewis (1988) states’ “the mixture of conventional advertising and direct marketing is absolutely logical” (p. 52), and stresses the importance of “senseless advertising.” He believes that advertising creates product awareness while direct marketing creates the sale (p. 52). Stan Rapp, a marketing professional, also discusses the integration of advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing in what he terms as “MaxiMarketing” or the “marketing revolution.” Rapp (1988) describes “three distinct phases of the MaxiMarketing revolution” (p. 92). These phases include the development of an end-user database, the implementation of a strategic approach to advertising, sales promotion and database marketing, and the battle of the databases. According to Rapp (1988) “the database … becomes a launching pad for gaining repeat sales, developing new products, building brand loyalty and cross-selling other products” (p. 92). Although Rapp believes that the integration of advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing are inevitable, he warns that this type of integration may lead to a “make a sale now at any cost to the company’s image promotion” (p. 94). Both Lewis and Rapp omit public relations entirely from the marketing mix. However, both discuss the impact of mixed marketing in public relations terms including awareness, image, and brand loyalty.

    MacInnis and Jaworski (1989), advertising professionals, discuss advertising in an integrative framework that they regard as “necessary given developments in related research streams” (p. 18). This framework addresses the effects advertisements have on individuals and the individual’s ability to process the information presented in the advertisements. This research study illustrates the need for integrated communication messages to be concise, uniform and easily understood. William D. Novelli, a public relations professional, builds on this idea of the individual’s ability to break down complex communication messages in his article “One-Stop Shopping.” Novelli (1989) believes that critics view integrated marketing communication as being propelled by advertising agencies to prevent money from being spent on other communication disciplines and not necessarily for the benefit of communicating clearly to the various stakeholder publics. However, Novelli (1989) states, “IMC [integrated marketing communication] is clearly in the best interests of the client. The synergy that results from genuine integration can help clients” by both cutting costs and gaining effectiveness resulting from the strategic coordination of communication efforts (p. 7). Novelli also addresses the early role of public relations in the integrated marketing communication process. He (1989) states, “The PR [public relations] business is growing. Companies are turning more than ever to public relations for product and service marketing, for major corporate positioning and repositioning programs and to create broad changes in the social, economic and marketing environments to make the climate more hospitable for industries, companies and their goods and services” (p. 8). Finally, he believes that failures occur within integrated marketing communication, not because of flaws inherent in the process, but primarily due to the inability of organizations to understand or organize such integration.

    Glen M. Broom and Kerry Tucker (1989), public relations scholars, state, “The boundaries between public relations and marketing continue to blur. Public relations firms and departments do ‘marketing communication’ and ‘marketing public relations.’ Advertising agencies and marketing departments offer ‘public relations’ services” (p. 40). Broom and Tucker attribute this integration to the lack of definition and the desired outcomes of each discipline (e.g. increase sales or publicity). They (1989) state, “both public relations and marketing build and maintain relationships necessary for organizational survival. Identifying which function deals with what kinds of relationships distinguishes one from the other” (p. 41). Yustin Wallrapp, a public relations professional, addresses the buying up of public relations firms by advertising firms as a method to creating integrated communication teams. Walltrap (1989) discusses the need for integrated communication strategies beginning with the statement, “the solution to every client problem or marketing need is not a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl” (p. 40). Walltrap stresses that in order to create successful integrated marketing communication campaigns each function must value the other and be able to illustrate this value to the client organizations.

    Grunig and Grunig, public relations scholars, published an article during the same year establishing the validity of public relations as a form of communication research and not just a practice. According to Grunig and Grunig (1989) “public relations departments often supply marketing departments with the necessary technical skills to communicate about products through means other than paid advertising” (p. 28). Grunig and Grunig believe that marketing communicators are only concerned with the consumer public while public relations professionals are concerned with all other publics that have a stake in the organization. They (1989) state, “public relations programs generally provide two functions for organizations: public affairs and marketing support” (p. 28). Although Grunig and Grunig do not support the concept of integrated marketing communication, the activities they describe as common public relations procedures—writing press releases, conducting informal and formal research, holding open houses, and preparing publications—are becoming common practices of advertisers and marketers and further blurring the lines among these communication functions (O’Leary, 1996, p. 39).
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    Research Question

    Although the early discussions of integrated marketing communication do not clearly define the concept or the process, each of these articles address strategies, aspects and elements of the integrated marketing communication concept. Throughout the 1990s integrated marketing communication becomes more than just a buzzword, but a constant debate among its critics.

    Several terms have been used to describe the “one sight, one sound” concept: marketing and advertising continuum (Reich, 1998, p. 26), communication time piece (Reich, 1998, p. 26), integrated communications: advertising and public relations (ICAP) (Miller & Rose, 1994, p. 13), communication convergence, integrated communications (Stanton, 1991, p. 46), marketing public relations, marcomm (Eagle & Kitchen, 2000, p. 667), product public relations, open marketing (Smith, 1993, p. 29), integrated direct marketing (Suchecki, 1993, p. 43), integrated orchestra (Lindell, 1996, p. 62), marketing communication mix (Keller, 2001, p. 819), coordinated marketing communication (Nowak & Phelps, 1994, p. 51), and integrated marketing communication. Although the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Medill School developed a working definition of integrated marketing communication during the early 1990s, integrated marketing communication still has many definitions and interpretations. It is the lack of a clear definition and universal understanding of integrated marketing communication that has made this concept the heart of a continuing debate over its usefulness or lack there of.

    This study uses qualitative research to sort out the definitions of integrated marketing communication through published literature from 1990 until today. The research question is as follows:

    Research Question 1:What are communications practitioners and scholars saying about integrated marketing communication?
  • How do the trade publications and academic journals discuss integrated marketing communication?
  • What are the general categories to emerge in a review of the articles?
  • What themes emerge through an analysis of both the latent and manifest content within these articles?
  • How is integrated marketing communication defined from the perspectives of the four primary disciplines: advertising, integrated marketing communication, marketing, and public relations?

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    Methodology

    Grounded theory is a general methodology in qualitative research for developing theory that is grounded in data systematically gathered and analyzed (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, 3). According to Daymon and Holloway (2002), “ by choosing to follow a grounded theory approach, you [the researcher] opt to operate as an interpreter of the data, not just as a reporter or describer of a situation” (p. 119).
    Additionally, Merriam (1998) writes that the constant comparative method of data analysis was developed by Glaser and Strauss (1967) as the means of developing grounded theory; “because the basic strategy of the constant comparative method is compatible with the inductive, concept-building orientation of all qualitative research, the constant comparative method of data analysis has been adopted by many researchers who are not seeking to build substantive theory” (p. 159). In this method the data is open coded to generate categories and hypotheses.

    The literature review traced the evolution of the integrated marketing communication concept prior to 1990. The 157 articles used throughout the research study will focus on the evolution of this concept since 1990 when the concept began gaining substantial attention from the public relations profession and professionals began attempting to define the integrated marketing communication concept.

    The literature was analyzed by the then relevance and descriptive nature of the texts—whether the article defined integrated marketing communication or described the use of integrated marketing communication. Coding the literature by manifest and latent content was done for this analysis. The analysis was completed in two distinct phases. Phase 1: the manifest constant comparative analysis was limited to 54 articles citing specific definitions. Phase 2: the latent content comparative analysis included these 54 articles, as well as 103 additional texts discussing the concept completing.

    All of these articles were coded by latent content and the 54 articles stating definitions were coded by manifest content as well. Manifest analysis searches “the concrete terms contained in a communication” (Babbie, 2004, p. 319), these could include nouns, proper nouns, and parts of speech and was used to code the 54 definitions. Babbie (2004) states that latent content is “the underlying meaning of communications” (p. 319). Through this method of analysis the first themes identified were negative content and objective content in order to determine the overall attitude toward integrated marketing communication according to the tone and language used to describe the integrated marketing communications concept. Objective articles discussed both the positive and negative aspects of the integrated marketing process while negative articles included those that only discussed this process in terms of failure or neglect. The other latent themes were derived from the literature through the constant comparative method.

    According to Bruner, Goodnow, and Austin (1972), “To categorize is to render discriminately different things equivalent, to group the objects and events and people around us into classes, and to respond to them in terms of their class membership rather than their uniqueness” (p. 16). At first, the literature was coded into four primary categories derived from the discipline in which the text addressed integrated marketing communication: advertising, integrated marketing communication, marketing, and public relations perspectives. Within these categories the literature was coded a second time by the type of published articles: academic journals and trade publications.

    Thirty articles written from an advertising perspective were consulted: 16 articles from trade publications and 14 articles from academic journals. Thirty-three articles written from an integrated marketing communication perspective were consulted: 11 articles from trade publications and 22 articles from academic journals. Forty-three articles written from a marketing perspective were consulted: 35 articles from trade publications and eight articles from academic journals. Fifty-one articles written from a public relations perspective were consulted: 45 articles from trade publications and six articles from academic journals. These articles created the research pool of 157 published articles selected from a wide variety of publications.
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    Analysis


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    Discussion


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