A latte with Dawn Salter
Episode first aired on August 03, 2023
Season 01 Episode 08
In this episode, Matisse chats with Dawn Salter, MSc., CM, CMgr., about the fine line between marketing, advertising and PR. They discuss how the three areas work together, how they differ, and what the future may look like for these disciplines.
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About our guest
Dawn Salter is currently a program co-ordinator and professor of advertising and marketing communications for the Faculty of Media, Art & Design at Durham College. She has an extensive marketing communications and account management background, having worked at various advertising agencies on national and global brands.
She holds a Master of Science in Global Marketing Management from the University of Liverpool and a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education from Brock University. She also received a Diploma in Advertising Administration and Certificates in both Aligning & Building Curriculum and Online Course development.
Her primary research areas include: monitoring changes in consumer media consumption across cultural segmentation variables to measure the impact on global marketing initiatives; and analyzing advertiser and consumer attitudes towards current gender targeting and role depictions within consumer packaged-goods advertising.
Connect with Dawn:
Website: Advertising and Promotion Program at Durham College
Website: Advertising – Digital Media Management (graduate certificate) at Durham College
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (00:00):
Hello, and welcome to another episode of PR & Lattes, where you can fill up your cup on everything PR and communications. I’m your host, Matisse Hamel-Nelis, and I am so happy to have you join me again today. Before we get started, make sure you subscribe to our podcast wherever you’re listening to this right now to get notified each week about a new episode when it drops. You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter by visiting our website, prandlattes.com. On the website, you’ll find our podcast episodes plus our amazing blogs, with new ones being uploaded every Monday morning. And, of course, make sure you’re following us on Instagram at @PRAndLattes, and on LinkedIn, PR & Lattes. On today’s episode, I’m chatting with Dawn Salter, program co-ordinator and professor of advertising and marketing communications at Durham College. Dawn has an extensive marketing communications and account management background, having worked at various advertising agencies on national and global brands. She holds a Master of Science in Global Marketing Management from the University of Liverpool and a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education from Brock University. She also received a diploma in advertising administration and certificates in both aligning and building curriculum and online course development. It was my pleasure getting to chat with her about everything, advertising, marketing, and pr. So grab your latte, sit back and enjoy.
Thank you so much for being on the show today, Dawn. I am really excited to talk about this conversation, uh, this topic of marketing, advertising and public relations, and you are the IT person to have this conversation with, I have to say,
Dawn Salter (01:39):
But oh, I like that title. The IT person, <laugh>…
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (01:41):
The IT person for it <laugh>. Um, but before we dive into all the good stuff, um, can you tell us a little bit about your journey in advertising?
Dawn Salter (01:48):
Certainly. So I’m a graduate of the advertising program from Durham College. So dating myself, this is way back in the, uh, early ’90s. I took the program coming out of university not knowing what my next step was. And in university, I had taken a marketing course, and that’s what led me into advertising, because I liked this whole idea of being able to understand, uh, influences of behaviour, what motivates people to take action. And I consider myself a creative person. So I wanted to get more into that idea development. How can I come up with kind of big ideas and figure out the influences to motivate, uh, people to make certain actions. So from university, went into college, took the advertising program, loved the program. Uh, from my internship, landed my first kind of career job at an advertising agency. It was Saatchi and Saatchi, so a big international, um, agency.
And my first brand was Tide Detergent. So right out of the gate, right, you get to work on a mega brand. So everybody kind of touched Tide, um, within the agency. And so it was great learning experience. And from there, it was kind of like five different advertising agencies throughout my agency career. So I had the opportunity to work on consumer packaged goods, on retail brands, um, automotive, you name it. So it was very well-rounded background. And then an opportunity came up to teach, uh, advertising, and I jumped at that. Surprisingly, not really liking public speaking. I was very fearful of jumping into the world of, uh, post-secondary education and teaching. But it’s amazing how when you’re so passionate about a subject, um, and you feel like you’re able to give back and educate that next generation, I tried it out and I loved that too. So now I’ve kind of gone from working in, um, advertising and communications full-time to now developing curriculum and teaching advertising and communications full-time, <laugh>
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (04:03):
<laugh>. And as part of your teaching you, uh, at Durham College, you also have something called the Collaboragency. Do you wanna chat a little bit about that?
Dawn Salter (04:10):
Sure. So what the Collaboragency is, it’s the campus communications agency. So it’s an opportunity for students from different media, art and design programs to collaborate and come together and work on actual client projects. So we work with community-based partners, will help them determine what their communication needs are, set some realistic goals for the academic year so that the, the students can help the, um, the businesses deliver. So it’s just a great opportunity for students to kind of get outside of their discipline that they’re studying, but apply the knowledge and skills from that one discipline in a collaborative team. So it’s just integrative, so it’s a great experience for them.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (05:02):
I couldn’t let you pass up all about the Collaboragency because I think it’s such an amazing initiative, so I had to throw it in there.
Dawn Salter (05:08):
Wonderful. Thank you.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (05:09):
You’re welcome. All right, so let’s dive into it. And I have an iPad with questions in front of me, because this one’s a bit wordy in what I was thinking and what I wanted to talk about. So, PR, marketing, advertising, lots of confusion, misconceptions about what they are, if they’re the same, if they’re different. My mother for one thinks they’re the same, even though I’ve told her they are not, but they work together. So could you explain the misconception that PR and advertising are interchangeable and clarify where they differ and where they complement each other?
Dawn Salter (05:42):
Okay. So yes, um, I would say you kind of touched on it in the question itself. They are different, but they’re complimentary. So they have to work together. So I think from the perspective of an everyday person, whenever they see a message from a company, from a brand that is advertising to them, it’s a sponsored message because they feel like the company is putting that message out there. So when you think of advertising, advertising is really paid for communication by the sponsor. That’s the, the core difference between advertising and pr. So the company creates a message, but they pay for its distribution. So they’re paying for that message to be communicated via, you know, like online, whether it’s through a search engine, whether it’s through a specific website, whether it’s on a social channel, whether you see it out of home, like on a billboard, or a transit shelter or interior bus or exterior, um, bus advertising that’s paid for placement.
So that’s primarily the difference between I think, advertising and pr, the sponsors paying for the communication, whereas PR is really more, it’s publicity. It’s like the, the dissemination of the information is getting out there in the public space, but there’s not necessarily the paid for placement of that message. And I think where it gets confusing is companies do hire agencies that specialize in pr. So the, the agency is getting paid to create the messaging and the content, but the placement of that messaging then becomes, the agency is going to be talking to say the media, can you come out and cover this story for us? Right? So the, the client is paying the agency to manage and create. So there is the paid form, but it’s more for the service. It’s not actually for the dissemination of that, that message. But I feel like at the end of the day, it’s all about building a brand and managing a brand.
And that’s why the two have to work together. Because anytime, as I said before, you’re creating a message and putting it out there, you’re controlling that message and making sure that that message identifies with the people that it’s intended for, and it follows maybe the standards or guidelines that have been set for that, that brand. So you have to always think about, um, the, the communication, like where is it going? Who is it going to, how can we control this to ensure that it’s going to be interpreted the way that we wanna interpret it? So all of these other kind of specialists or experts in other communication areas might have to get involved. So really advertising is just whenever it’s paid for placement. But advertising agencies might be leading the development of establishing a brand and its identity and identifying who it’s going to be working with, like all these other communication suppliers. So an advertising agency could be the lead at creating the brand, but might then partner with a PR specialist to create an event and be able to advertise that event to the various publics, not just consumers, but to the media, to employees internally at the, the company and and beyond. So they very much work together. Yeah, they’re strongly integrated.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (09:29):
It’s true. And I think that the terms would be, one is to advertise, the other one is to promote. When, when you’re in PR you’re always looking for that third party, um, acknowledgement and promotion versus it being directly from the brand itself. The brand shares the information, it’s up to the journalists, and that’s where the, the journalism side of things comes into play, right. To promote and, and share that information. Do you think that portrayal of advertising, marketing, and PR in media have caused that misconception or misunderstanding or understanding of what people think?
Dawn Salter (10:02):
I, I think so, because even the, um, when you’re watching news and the media, they talk about it, or this brand did this, and they say that it’s advertising. Yeah, right. But it’s like you’re a news program and you’re communicating information about this brand that’s actually publicity, that’s pr what you’re doing right now, but you’re, and then when they use the word advertising, it’s almost in a negative context as though this is something that’s just being pushed and forced onto people. And as though it’s manipulative and it really isn’t, it’s still about sharing information, and it’s still up to, this is the thing, it’s always up to the receiver. So whether that’s the, the media or the consumer, the individual, they get to make the choice on whether they’re going to allow that message in, how they’re going to interpret it, and whether they’re going to let it influence their behavior or their action. So the control is still always with the individual. So, you know, when advertising sometimes gets a bad rap as being manipulative, it’s the message has been created to almost encourage an action to force that individual to go out and do some further investigation, find out if this is right for you. Compare alternatives, the inf I mean, in today’s world, it’s all the information’s out there, it’s easy to <laugh>, get other opinions.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (11:25):
Do you think there is any, uh, fictional character TV or movie that does a really good job of promoting what advertising is versus what it isn’t, or
Dawn Salter (11:36):
<laugh> That’s hard to say, because I was a madman <laugh>. I loved that show, but I think that’s the way it was in the, the, you know, the fifties through the, the late sixties. Um, but I think that again, that was kind of like glorified to mm-hmm. <affirmative> for, for a lifestyle and not really how it was. And even back in the, the nineties, I’m probably dating myself here, but there was a show Melrose Place Yes. That I absolutely loved. And that’s one of the things that got me, um, into advertising because I was a, a student in university when that that came out. And I loved that. Like, I liked this idea of just building a brand, a reputation and image and being able to communicate that and influence a, a behaviour. But I think that, um, to make it not seem deceptive, I think people have to understand that marketers, I mean, they have to hold to standards.
They have to be ethical in their practices. So really, when they’re communicating information about their brand, their product or service, they’re sharing information because they know that they can deliver something that does satisfy a need. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> for individuals. Like ultimately it’s a need or a want, but it’s something that’s supposed to help improve a circumstance for an individual. Yeah. That’s why people buy products or services, right. For improvement. So, um, it’s all in to sometimes maybe some of the tactics that they use to break through clutter and get notice seem a bit deceptive, perhaps. But the thing is, it’s still, I go back to ultimately the control of the receiver of that message, what they’re gonna do with that information and do their own investigation. But clients, I mean, marketers have to follow standards. And if they are found in breach of those, they have, they’re, they’re in trouble.
They get their communications pulled. I know in, in Canada with the advertising standards, Canada, it takes only one complaint from a consumer to get, they have, they, they treat it seriously and they notify the marketer right away. And it’s, how do you wanna proceed with this? And they have to address it. Yeah. And take the response back to whoever the complaint it wa complaint was. And if it’s not kind of satisfied, it can become a, a bigger thing. So most, you know, advertisers, um, with that one complaint, it will kind of force them to make change or reevaluate how something was coming across because they don’t want it to become a bigger issue. Yeah. So there’s lots of like, kind of checkpoints that happen to make sure that they’re following standards and not being, you know, deceptive <laugh>
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (14:17):
The, the not so, uh, pretty stuff to show on a TV show or a movie, it’s like, oh, that’s the boring stuff. Yeah. Like, but it’s the important stuff.
Dawn Salter (14:25):
The important stuff that, you know, just, I mean, as an aside, like, um, advertising to children, which cannot be done in Quebec. Mm. So in all the other provinces, you are able to create communications and advertise through various platforms directly to those under 12 years old. But you cannot in Quebec. Hmm. But even in, um, Ontario, for example, if you’re creating a television commercial that’s going to be targeted to a minor, so someone under 12 years old, you have to get approval to the script from, um, a governing approval body before you even advance it and would move into production. If you actually produce that commercial, you have to wait and get approval from a board on the final cut of that commercial before it would go to air. And the, the board only meets twice a month. Oh. So you have to plan things like that in your schedule. Yeah. Like this is the not attractive side, right. Like you, I don’t think people realize, and this is for broadcast television, but it’s not like just filming something on a smartphone and then putting it up on someone’s like personal feed. And it gets out there and it goes viral. If you’re actually an advertiser and you’ve paid for placement on some highly rated networks and you’re creating a commercial production, there are the lead times of what goes into that development, the production, like the approval process before it actually comes to air. It’s pretty substantial.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (15:54):
<laugh>, <laugh>, again, not the stuff you wanna see on a TV show, right? No. You’re just like, just show me the good stuff. Show me the drama. Yeah. So there you go. Yeah.
Dawn Salter (16:01):
Yeah. That’s something you’d read about to fall asleep. Yeah. <laugh>,
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (16:04):
I find when people ask me that question around pr, well, isn’t it like Samantha Jones from Sex and the City? I’m like, no. Can be. It can be.
Dawn Salter (16:11):
But the parties, yes, <laugh>.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (16:14):
But I also look to, um, people like press secretaries and the West Wingand that sort thing. I’m like, you want a good communicator who shows the profession in a good light. There you go.
Dawn Salter (16:24):
Anytime a politician delivers a speech. Right, right.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (16:27):
Dawn Salter (16:27):
Think that, you think that’s all their words. <laugh>, <laugh>. It’s not.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (16:31):
No <laugh>. Um, okay. So moving over to the client side of things. What are some of misunderstandings that you find clients might have around the role of advertising and the function of PR before working with professionals like yourself?
Dawn Salter (16:46):
Some of the misconceptions the clients might have?
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (16:49):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So they hire you thinking maybe they’re gonna be doing PR work versus they hire a PR firm thinking they’re gonna do advertising ’cause they think they’re one in the same, that sort of thing.
Dawn Salter (16:58):
Well, I think for the most part, um, depending on the client, like if they’re, uh, a larger client like a, a regional or national brand, they kind of have that education. Now where they might hire, in the industry, they call them an agency of record, right? ve>. So they have a dedicated agency who’s responsible for their overall kind of brand management. And what might come out of, um, the briefing for a program. The lead agency might say, we will need to get PR specialists involved in this, because it could be they’re creating, say, uh, an event. You know, it’s a brand’s 50th anniversary, and they wanna do a huge spectacle around that. So maybe the, you know, the lead agency kind of controls the brand management might hire a PR specialist to help with the, um, the event development. But again, it’s about control.
It’s about ensuring that anything that gets created to deliver information about a brand, that it’s consistent. So sometimes you just need to remind, you know, clients, this communication specialist works in this area. This one, you know, the other area. But usually whoever the lead agency is, they’re the thread that kind of controls and manages all of it. Clients don’t often care who’s doing what mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they just wanna make sure it gets done. Yeah. And that when it gets out there and, um, to the public that it’s consistent and that it’s going to be understood. So, um, yeah, sometimes you just have to do a little bit of education to make sure they understand who does what and why certain things have longer lead times than other things. Because clients sometimes will say, well, when I had this done last time, it only took two days, and you’re telling me it’s gonna take two weeks. Well, why is that? And it could be because of other projects that the agency is working on for that client, and they’re prioritizing things or educating them on the fact that this one thing has to be done first before we can get to that next stage of the project. Clients sometimes just don’t understand the, the process. The process, yes. <laugh>.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (19:06):
Now you talked a bit about ethics, um, in advertising. Do you feel that there’s still that misconception or, uh, thought that PR and advertising are basically a bunch of manipulative spin doctors? Or have you found that that has sort of diminished over time?
Dawn Salter (19:23):
Uh, I still think the general public perception is, you know, businesses advertise because they wanna make money, right? So that, with that comes that element of trickery, right. Deception that they’re telling us information that’s misinformation because they wanna get us interested and purchase this product so that they’re making money. But I think, you know, the general public, they need to understand that businesses have to be accountable to, they have partnerships, they have government regulations, they have to, um, you know, keep in mind, like even when it comes to the manufacturing of their, their products or services. Like, there’s all these other stakeholders that are involved. Consumers are only one stakeholder. So they have all these other kind of standards that they have to uphold to. So really, you know, yes. Uh, I think for a business, they wanna make money. That’s why they’re in business.
It’s not to stay the same, it’s to improve and make more money, um, get better and more efficient at what they do. But what they’re making money in, it’s to improve the circumstance for individuals, for community, for, you know, maybe a, a nation at large. Like they’re being, they have to be held accountable for how they manufacture products and services and the goods and services that they’re putting out there. What good are they serving? Are they actually helping and improving circumstances for people? Are they creating jobs in a community and doing minimal damage to, you know, with their manufacturing process? Like consumers are, they wanna know this product that I’m buying, like, how is it manufactured and produced? Um, who are the labourers that are working on the production of this product? Does this company adhere to ethical standards in their hiring practices?
Like, again, it comes back to the individual, and if they wanna know, the information is out there. Yeah. So I feel like nothing really can be hidden today. There’s always a way <laugh>, there’s always something to get uncovered, right? Yeah. And I think the, the, the smart companies, they know this and they’re making sure that the more educated consumers become, they have to have answers to sometimes these tough questions. And I think it’s calling companies out and them saying, yes, this is how we do this, but we’re looking to make changes. I mean, I look at Tim Horton’s too, like changing their plastic lids. It’s, yes, we wanna be able to, by this date, no longer use this, and it’s going to take this much time, but by the, and I forget when it is, if it’s 2026 or something, they’re saying, we will no longer manufacture our lids this way. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and we know this, and this is our bit of how we feel like we’re helping reduce waste. It’s like, because they’re, they’re calling, they know you’ve called us out. We know this is what we do. We know we have to change, and here’s our timeline for how that’s going to happen. Yeah. It’s just being honest and being transparent.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (22:15):
Do you think there it, in, let’s say in the last year or so, there’s a campaign that you looked at and you said, that is advertising done, right? It, it hit all your checkboxes, you’re like, yes.
Dawn Salter (22:27):
Oh gosh, you put me on the spot. <laugh>. This is funny because I always say to my students, you are going to get asked this in an interview, and you have to be able to
What you’re noticing right now. What’s out there. That’s good. I’ll have to come back to that one. Because <laugh>, this is the thing. It’s so funny. It’s like I got into advertising because I’m the person that actually watches television for the advertising, not the program.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (22:49):
<laugh>, fast forward to the show. You’re like, come on. I know. I wanna
Dawn Salter (22:52):
See, because I’ll watch, I’m the one who watches advertisements and says, oh, the client made them put that in. Yeah.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (22:57):
Dawn Salter (22:58):
That’s what I did. The way that product was shot, or, you know, that, that last, that tagline, it was modified to include that because that’s an actual functional benefit, not an emotional one. Things like that. Yeah. You just know.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (23:11):
Yeah. I’m the same with comms, particularly during crises. And you’re like, oh, the comms person didn’t want you to say that one. No, no. That’s gonna edited.
Dawn Salter (23:19):
Excellent. How did that get in there? <laugh>?
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (23:21):
<laugh>. So when it comes to businesses, and we’ll come back to the best campaign. I have to think, think about that one. Yeah. Best think about that one. Um, when it comes to advertising, uh, there’s this understanding or belief, I guess, that it’s only meant for big companies, large organizations, big companies, but really it’s for anybody and everybody. Same with PR. How do you overcome those challenges in helping small companies or startups embrace advertising as a way to go, because money is tight and that sort of thing. So they might think, oh, I don’t know.
Dawn Salter (23:56):
You know, it’s, you, you have to say like, people aren’t going to purchase your product or service unless they know about you Yeah. And who you are. And how does a brand, how does a company get known? They have to be noticed. They have to be talked about. They have to have been reviewed. Um, so it’s, you, you sometimes you need to put money behind in order to get that recognition or awareness out there, like in a community that this is a, this is a viable alternative. I, I need a product or service that solves this need for me. Have you heard of this? Yeah. And they don’t just stumble upon it, like everything’s strategic. Right. Where, where things are placed. So yes. So you have to, and for not-for-profits and small businesses, yes. Like budget is usually a challenge. How do we find the money to do this when we know there’s value in it?
So that’s where you, you know, you work with them and you put together strategies for them. And it’s, it’s small steps. It’s like, even if sometimes it’s doing, and you know about organic creating things organically. So putting things out there on the owned channels, the owned properties, like the, the company’s own website or, um, social channels and just posting, and then through the post, encouraging that to be shared. Yeah. Right. And that’s all through, you know, publicity. You’re not paying for that. But eventually, just through that reach and then growth, if the company becomes a little more profitable and they begin to get some more money, you start to say to them, then you should earmark that. For paid advertising. Right? Yeah. So now that we’re starting to get this following, and you’re growing your, you know, your customer base, you do have to earmark money for advertising because it all works together. Like, if you’re gonna do a big promotion and an event, you still need to advertise that event. Yes. So people will know what’s the event, when’s it’s happening, <laugh>, what are all the details? Yeah. Right. Like, it’s not all just gonna get out there publicly free for free <laugh>.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (25:59):
Yeah. It’s true. Do you think they’re, so thinking about a small business who’s just starting up, they don’t necessarily have big funds for pro, let’s say proper advertising? I use air quotes for that, but they’re thinking social media; I wanna use social media. But they start then looking at, and I’ve seen this before with some clients, I have to put money behind every single social media channel out there because they don’t realize, you know, you need to think of a buyer persona or who, who you’re targeting, that sort of thing. Yeah. What advice do you have for those types of startups who are just, they’re just trying to figure it out right now?
Dawn Salter (26:31):
I love, so that’s a great question because when you’re working with, uh, a client, some of the first things they say is, I know Instagram’s huge, so I’ve gotta be on Instagram or TikTok, my kids watch it, so my brand needs to be there. And the first question I ask is, why? Yeah. Tell me why, why do, does your brand need to be on Instagram? Why does your brand, why do you think it needs to be on TikTok? And that’s where the education comes in. Like, you tell them what that platform is designed for and who their primary, you know, target audience is, who do they have reach among? And you have to make sure that what the client wants for their brand aligns with that platform. And it’s not always the case. Right. So you might not need to be on Instagram or TikTok if it doesn’t align with the goals of what you’re trying to do for your brand. Like, if you want to reach, you know, 13-year-old girls, Snapchat, <laugh>, you know,
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (27:28):
Dawn Salter (27:29):
If you want. Now I know TikTok, like that’s a phenomena that kind of exploded. And it, it’s, uh, audience is much more broad now. But again, that’s a video kind of platform, right. So it’s kind of like, does it make sense for your brand to be there? Like, what are, what do you wanna demonstrate? Yeah. Do you have a product benefit that you wanna show? Is that what you’re gonna be creating videos or if you’re on Instagram doing reels about like, what do you wanna do? What is ultimately your goal? And that’s what’s going to determine if a platform is right. It’s not just about, well, I know that, you know, women in 18 to 24 really use this platform. It’s okay. Yes, they do. But what are, if you’re gonna use that platform, what do you wanna be telling them? Yeah. So if you capture them, what’s your message? And then maybe the message that they wanna say, it’s like, that’s not really the platform for that then. Yeah. Like, you have to make sure that everything has a purpose and it’s aligned, always aligned with ultimately what you want your brand to stand for. And some platforms just don’t make sense.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (28:31):
Yeah. I know my mom, who’s an artist, she didn’t realize this ’cause because she thought, alright, well I’m gonna post on Instagram, which is fantastic being an artist. That’s where you post and you use hashtags to build up her audience. But she had mentioned something about, well, a lot of buyers aren’t there. And I said, well, look at the demographics. And realistically the demographics, the, the demo who has the money to buy your paintings or artwork are on Facebook. Is something that she had
Dawn Salter (28:58):
Facebook marketplace. Right.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (28:59):
Marketplace. Or even just, you know, having your professional page and advertising there and getting the, um, people coming into that side of things because that’s where they are. And it’s not about, you know, maybe the galleries are on Instagram, great, that’s focusing on one target audience, but the buyers are on Facebook or somewhere else. And it’s figuring that out. And I always say having those buyer personas, not just one. But who are all the targets you’re trying, like the ideal person that would want to buy it, buy your artwork or buyer product for this reason, for that reason, and then figure out where are they. Right. And that’s when you put the money behind it.
Dawn Salter (29:35):
And I think sometimes that’s where education again, comes in for clients, is they go too broad with, well, here’s what I want to achieve. And then when you have them really look at, well, you, then you really don’t wanna be talking to this one group specifically. Yeah. Because they’re currently, you know, the, the audience you’re going after, they’re gonna be the one that is more likely to buy your product. So let’s focus our energy and efforts on dealing with that one segment of your, you know, your broader target market. Yeah. We’re gonna focus just on this particular audience, but they always, well, I don’t wanna alienate this one or that one. So, and that’s the mistake they make because then in their communications, it get wa it gets watered down or cluttered because suddenly that one, you know, audience that you really should have been focused on, you don’t wanna forget about these other maybe smaller niche groups.
And then suddenly you start filtering in information in your communication to satisfy that other group. And it’s like, okay, now this message just doesn’t make sense or it’s gonna lose some of its impact or relevant. So that’s the thing. And it’s, it’s hard sometimes to say, you know what, we are just looking at this one group Yeah. With this communication. And again, this might come to, you know, the, this world of, because of exclusivity and everything, we’re thinking we wanna be everything for everyone all the time and show that we’re this, um, inclusive organization. But sometimes you might only be talking to one group. Yeah. Like if you’re, you know, a brand for males 18 to 24 who, you know, you’ve done the persona, and you need to talk to that group a certain way and you don’t want to alienate them. Right. So you, there’s just, there’s so much to think about.
Um, but there, there’s hard conversations that have to be had and sometimes risks that have to be taken. And a brand will have to decide, do I want to do that? Because I always run the risk of maybe isolating another group or not being thought too, too favourably, favourably by this group. And they’ll have to weigh that because sometimes the group that maybe they’re not going to be thought too favourably about, they’re not the ones that buy the product or service anyway. Yeah. And might not have any influence over the purchase decision, so you can’t worry about them. Yes. You can’t satisfy everybody all the time. I think we know this.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (31:48):
So what if a client comes to you and says, those famous words make me viral, <laugh> <laugh>. How, how do you broach that conversation and, and basically say,
Dawn Salter (32:04):
Well, and I would say, well, you tell me something interesting about your brand that people should really know about that they don’t always know. And then you have an agency come up with a way to create a really unique and different positioning around that. But you can’t promise going viral. No. You just don’t know. Like a lot of times, it has to do with what’s happening externally, um, in an environment. And sometimes your message just being really topical at that time that it just connects and it goes viral. Yeah. It’s a lot of times, things go viral by chance, A pure chance. Right. That’s, that’s what it is. And you know, like, I remember it was a few years back, right? I, I feel like it was, anyway with, um, at that stadium where there was the power outage and everything went dark and then Oreo cookies or something capitalized on
I’m, I’m drawing a blank now about, but I just remember it’s like, that was just a fluke. And then they were one of the first to take advantage of, Hey, let’s create a moment out of this and bring our brand and connect it and it be at the forefront of this kind of event and it went viral. Yeah. You know, that’s what happens. It’s just, I think again, this is just being alert and having resources dedicated to be paying attention to these, these things to say, oh my gosh, this just happened. We can put something out right now because this is a direct connection with our brand. Let’s, let’s try and capitalize on this in some way. Yeah. Right. Yeah.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (33:32):
Because you, like you said, you never know what’s necessarily going to go viral because it’s all about who’s consuming it. Um, because who would’ve thought that a pug in a floaty would go viral? Uh, A.K.A. the late Noodle, the pug, um, that’s what started off him just floating in a pool and it went viral and his owner then became, you know, this big TikTok star, with Noodles, so on and so forth. Um, you never know what’s gonna take off and yeah…
Dawn Salter (34:02):
And you can’t necessarily ask for it, I think, and brands can’t, and companies can’t beat themselves up and think, oh, we weren’t the first to react this was a missed opportunity. You have to give yourself time because in hindsight, was it really, like, really, is that what you wanted to stand for? Did you wanna be connected with that event or that individual? Like, take some time? Because it can be the opposite and fail too. Something can go viral, but in a negative way for your business. Yeah. So you just have to be very careful and, and approach everything as a learning opportunity too. Don’t always look at it as a missed opportunity. You gotta look at, okay, had we been part of this, what could it have led to? But maybe for next time and then you’re just, you know, you’re more on the the ready to, to be able to respond. But again, I think so much of it in this world, like moving at the speed of light, right. Sometimes we just have to take a breath in a moment to think, do I hit that send button, or do I <laugh> just stop and go back and review? Does this align with what we wanna do as a brand and stand for?
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (35:05):
Yeah. Do you think, um, when it comes to the concept of going viral, there’s this misconception that if you go viral, that means people are buying your product or signing up for your services? I tend to see that it goes viral. People know your name, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re
Dawn Salter (35:20):
Gonna purchase doing the next thing. Okay. Yes. And that brings, that’s a really interesting point because we have this thing in advertising that we call the carryover effect. Yeah. That advertising has a long-term effect. So perfect example, you could be an 18-year-old who’s thinking about your first vehicle, right? You don’t have the budget to purchase it yet. You’re actually not in the market for it yet because maybe you’re a post-secondary student, and you don’t have to, you know, travel to a career job yet. So, but you know, you’re going to need a car eventually. So you might be seeing advertisements for a particular brand that’s presenting that brand in a favourable light so that it’s making it top of mind for you. We call it, um, you know, you wanna be, uh, in someone’s evoked set, you wanna make up their top three, go-to brands so that when you’re ready to make that purchase, you will think of those one to three brands that are top of mind for you.
And how did those one to three brands get top of mind throughout your life? It’s the exposure that you either had from that company through their advertising or other communications or maybe it was through, um, external sources like family or friends that had purchased that brand and had a positive experience. Maybe, you know, back to the automobile, it was the only automobile brand that your family purchased. So automatically, you have that kind of emotional connection and attachment to that brand, and that’s okay. But it’s, again, it’s about this long-term carryover effect. So you wanna make sure that as a company or a brand, that you’re always putting out a consistent image and message that aligns with what you stand for as a brand. And sometimes if you do something that’s a little different for your brand and it goes viral, you could lose that, that customer that you might have been nurturing for, you know, years.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (37:22):
Without even realizing it.
Dawn Salter (37:23):
Right. Right. And it was just because you acted to, you know, reactive, impulsively.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (37:30):
How do you ensure the consistency of brand messaging and the balancing of priorities and objectives of advertising and marketing with those of public relations, especially in situations where they may conflict?
Dawn Salter (37:43):
Well, I think again, it comes down to if you’re working on, and most, um, companies will have their communication plans established for the year. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like they know what we’re going to achieve or what we’d like to achieve in this calendar year. And maybe it’s we’re going to do three or four national campaigns, or we’re gonna do one or two events in certain regions. Like they have their overall plan already figured out, and they might have their, again, their lead agency that they’re gonna be working with to do those communications. It’s getting everybody together at the start of that, that planning phase. So you have your lead agency, but maybe you have some of your PR partners or other people that might need to be involved. You have them all involved at the planning, so everyone understands, here’s what we’re gonna be over the next kind of like calendar year.
Here’s who’s gonna take the lead on this. But together you kind of review. So what do we stand for again, as a brand? You, you kind of go through the brand’s, you know, identity, you have the, the brand guidelines. So you know that this is the way we consistently use our logo, or we have to use our always this tagline, or when we’re using images or casting certain talent in our communications, here are the guidelines for that. So it almost doesn’t matter who might be the one that actually is creating for a specific, you know, program or delivery through a different media tactic. It’s if everyone who works on or touches that brand has the guidelines for how that brand is supposed to be represented in communications, they should be set. Like they have to follow those standards, those guidelines. And companies should be hiring profess professionals that will be adhering to those standards or guidelines. And, and even internally if a client is doing a lot of their communications internally, they have those standards and guidelines established, and there’s an approval process to make sure that have all these things that we said need to be included, been factored in.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (39:55):
Yeah. No, that’s very true.
Dawn Salter (39:57):
Safeguard. It’s safeguarding, right? It’s having your guidelines and standards and your internal, you know, kind of processes for approval. Again, it’s not the sexy stuff. It’s like wow. Process and timelines, <laugh>, and, but it’s gotta be followed and adhered to, to ensure that you’re not making a mistake.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (40:12):
It’s true. It’s true. And you’re noticing, we’re noticing, sorry, we’ve had this conversation before the dynamic shift in the naming of agencies. Instead of it being an advertising agency or PR agency, it’s more compar, uh, communications,
Dawn Salter (40:25):
Strategic communications, strategic
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (40:26):
Communications, or you know, integrated communications agencies.
Dawn Salter (40:30):
And I think of Edelman, right? Yeah. So they’re like the global leader in PR communications, but they’re now just Edelman, you know, they used to be the, the PR agency and now they’re Edelman strategic kind of communications. Right? So it means that they handle everything. So whatever a, a client’s communications need is, they are saying that they can deliver and meet that need. And it may be a PR need, but it may be completely rebranding. Yeah. Right. And having to come up with a new image and positioning for a brand. Right. And you, again, it’s like the, the, the area between advertising, pr, they all communications, all of it has an audience. Yeah. Whether it’s a specific consumer group, whether it’s the media or whether it’s internal employees, like they’re all just different publics. That’s the way I look at public relations. It’s different publics, but advertising is usually specifically targeted to the public. That’s a potential consumer or an existing customer. And you’re trying to maintain that relationship with that customer. So they will continue to buy in your product or service <laugh>.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (41:44):
Do you think the future will see the removal of specific PR agency, specific ad agency, specific marketing, and instead more merging of the like.
Dawn Salter (41:55):
I think, you know, we’ve been, we’ve been seeing that for a while. Like it’s agencies position themselves as full-service agencies, and to them, it just means if we need to deliver something to our client that we don’t offer, we will find a partner that will allow us to work together and be able to deliver that for our clients. So I still think like, as things evolve, like with social media, right? There are a lot of, we would call them, boutique agencies. There are a lot of agencies that just specialize in social media. Yeah. And a full-service agency might have a social media agency as a partner. To be able to deliver those services to their clients. So I still think there’s going to be this crop of like boutique agencies, like as things evolve, um, like with ai, right?
Like, how do we incorporate AI into our practices? And it’s like, okay, well we need to talk to specialists in this area to see, right? Yeah. And there’s gonna be, there’s always gonna be specialists and experts that you kind of bring in and see how it might impact for the better what you deliver, right? Yeah. So I think you’re still always gonna have some specialists. Um, but again, I think you’ll see the perception for the general public and for consumers will be that it’s a communications agency. Yeah. Like, we’re gonna hire this agency to handle our advertising and marketing communications. And under that umbrella, right? Like it is actually advertising and marketing communications. PR is the a promotional tool that falls under communications.
All, it’s all promotion, right? There’s just so many different ways of it. There’s advertising, there’s PR, there’s experiential marketing, there’s shopper-based marketing, there’s events, sponsorship, direct marketing, <laugh>. Yeah.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (43:45):
There’s just so many facets.
Dawn Salter (43:47):
Those are all PR tools aren’t PR those are are all promotional tools.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (43:51):
Yeah. And I think that’s where there’s that misconception and misunderstanding is that they all fall under communications. You’re communicating with the public in some way, shape, or form where that you’ve paid for it, earned it, hosted an event, sponsored whatever the case is. But it’s those specialties within the communication facet. That is where people need to understand I’m a communicator. What kind of communicator? I’m an advertising communicator, a PR communicator, that sort of,
Dawn Salter (44:15):
And what, at the end of the day, what’s the goal of that communication? Like, so what do you want the takeaway to be as the goal that you just want someone to think more favourably of you? Then you set your measurement around that. Are you going to do surveys with people who attended event and find out did they enjoy that event? And do they now has their perception of the sponsor of the event changed pre-event to post? And you set a measurement criteria, and you’re always looking for improvement. That’s not about purchasing a product or service, right? It’s just getting measurement on did we somehow move a needle? Has perception changed in that area? And if it has, I mean, ultimately the goal is down the road, maybe longer term, that if you think positively, you know, favourably of a brand, hold it in a good regard, you’re likely gonna do business with that Yeah. Company and purchase the products or services from that company, right? It all works together. <laugh>, all of it.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (45:13):
<laugh>. And you mentioned AI, which was a perfect segue into my <laugh> my last question for today, which is, what do you think are future trends or technologies that you believe will impact, uh, the integration of advertising, marketing and public relations?
I just think because the, the speed of communications moves so quickly. Honestly, I feel like AI tools are just going to allow people to work more efficiently, more productively in what they do. I don’t see it as being a replacement for specific roles. I see it as complementing or supporting or helping people in their roles be more productive. Because there’s just so much more that one individual is expected to do in kind of any role that if there’s somehow AI tools to support them. To me it’s kind of like, I mean, we joke about this, like sometimes I’m the team of one, right? Yeah. <laugh>, like, I’m working on 10 different things. How many hats am I wearing today? It’s almost like you have an AI support team member <laugh> in a way, right? Like, there’s going to be tools that can help you just be, you know, more efficient at your job.
That, that, that’s the way I see it. And I did see a quote, um, come out a couple of weeks ago. It’s like, will marketers fear? You know, will they be replaced? Will certain roles in marketing be replaced by AI? I don’t think so, but I think if you’re a marketer that doesn’t have knowledge of tools in AI or how to use them to simplify a process, then you will be replaced as that in they’re gonna hire. A company will hire a marketer who embraces AI. Not someone who fears it out of replacement. It’s, it’s how it’s going to be able to support and make, um, things more efficient.
And I think that’s gonna, you’re gonna see that more in education as well, a course or a module where it’s gonna say how to create proper prompts for ideation, for, you know, uh, helping you build a strategy or a layout or something like that to help you get started to avoid the writer’s block or the creative block.
Dawn Salter (47:21):
Right. Because sometimes we’re just all overwhelmed with things we’re doing. Yeah. And, and, but suddenly if you just put something into a prompt that that’s a great idea. I’m gonna start with that. Let me build on it. I have a thought starter now. Exactly. Right. And that’s what I think it’s, it’s for, it’s not to replace people, it’s to help people get better <laugh> at what they do, <laugh>, help them work smarter, not harder.
Yes. Right? Yes, yes, yes. That’s what it’s all about. Before we wrap up, did you think about a campaign <laugh>?
I did! And I’m trying to think how to summarize it. So, um, and it’s not, uh, a national one, but, and I think it was, I think it’s, I wanna say Latin America, maybe it’s a, it’s a famous one that, um, McDonald’s did years ago where they partnered up with the not-for-profit, uh, peace for one day.
Have you heard of that organization. And I think it’s, I forget what day it is. It’s the 21st of something. What month? I wanna say maybe June. But it’s this International Day of Celebration for Peace. And I remember McDonald’s very smart. They said, you know what, on this day of peace, let’s have peace with one of our main competitors. Let’s have peace with Burger King. Is this ringing any bells? Yes. It ring, ring. And I remember they said, let’s create the McWhopper. Yes. So we take what’s best, like our Big Mac and the Whopper. And for one day, on this day, International Day of Peace, we want to sell this McWhopper. So it’s combining the, the two best things about our signature products. And they put together a proposal, and they sent it to, um, the CEO. This is McDonald’s that sent it to the CEO, um, at Burger King.
And Burger King rejected and said, absolutely not. We don’t wanna be a part of this. But McDonald’s took that response and created a media frenzy around it. I remember, I remember it sent it out to the, and people were saying, this is crazy. This is what they wanted to do. And this would be absolutely awesome. And it would just be for one day, for one-day sales of McWhopper, but the sales, the proceeds would be going to that organization. Yeah. So it was all in the spirit of peace. It wasn’t, you know, but it, it actually fared quite well for McDonald’s because it made it look like Burger King, uh, didn’t wanna participate. And then it went viral because everyone, they were encouraging people to create their own versions of McWhopper and try it. So, you know, burger King didn’t allow us to do this, but people went out and bought their own and tried it themselves and made it.
Yeah. And then they were making their own videos and saying how great it was. Like, to me, that’s great, because the underlying reason behind why they were doing it was emotional. Yeah. But it worked to their benefit too, because it ended up tainting and making Burger King not look so good. No, look. So great. That’s so great. Something like that, but so smart. So it’s just, again, as a brand, attaching yourself to another brand mm-hmm. <affirmative> that aligns with your same values and coming up with an idea, and then in a way, it, I’m sure that that supported, uh, McDonald’s a lot more. <laugh>, <laugh> did. Burger King. I
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (50:31):
Love that. I love that. That’s the example and how we’re gonna wrap it up. But before we go, okay. This is PR and lattes, so I have to ask, what is your favourite go-to caffeinated beverage that gets you through the day?
Dawn Salter (50:43):
Do you see me with my Tim Hortons? And, and the joke is like, coffee is how I get my water consumption. <laugh>. Like, if I’m supposed to have eight cups of water a day, I get my water and my coffee. So it’s, it’s definitely Timmy’s <laugh>, Timmy’s.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (50:57):
Is there a special order at Timmy’s or just anything?
Dawn Salter (50:59):
It’s, it’s a double-double, double-double.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (51:00):
The classic. The classic.
Dawn Salter (51:01):
It’s, it’s my fuel. Yep.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (51:03):
Amazing. Thank you so much, Dawn, for being on the podcast.
Dawn Salter (51:05):
It’s been my pleasure. Thank you. It’s been great.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (51:08):
If anybody wants to reach out to you or get ahold of you about the advertising program that you teach and, and are the program co-ordinator of, how can they get a hold of you?
Dawn Salter (51:15):
So they can get ahold of me? I would say through, um, the Derm College website and looking at the advertising program. So there are two programs at Durham College. There’s advertising and promotion, and there is digital media management. And I know that, uh, contact information is listed there for the coordinator.
Matisse Hamel-Nelis (51:34):
Perfect. Thank you so much.
Dawn Salter (51:36):
Not a problem. My pleasure. It’s been fun. <laugh>,
You’ve been listening to the PR & Lattes podcast. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you can get notified each week when a new episode drops. You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter by visiting our website, prandlattes.com. On the website, you’ll find our podcast episodes as well as amazing blogs with new ones being posted every Monday morning. And, of course, make sure to follow us on social, on Instagram at @PRAndLattes and on LinkedIn. I’ve been your host, Matisse Hamel-Nelis. Thank you so much for listening, and we’ll see you next week with a new latte and guest. Bye for now.
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