For several years, sales promotion and public relations have been often misunderstood, mis-measured, and misused by a great many marketers. Unlike advertising and personal selling that can claim formal structures and point to obvious accomplishments, sales promotion and PR have neither. Although this situation is changing somewhat, there is still a great deal of room for improvement. In the case of sales promotion, there exists some confusion as to which activities actually fall under this heading. Are packaging, couponing, and point-of-purchase displays all sales promotion? Because the answer to this question varies from organization to organization and across situations, sales promotion is often viewed as a catch-all category that includes everything that an organization does not label advertising or public relations.
Public relations, too, is difficult to define as it deals with the ultimate intangible creating a positive image of the company. Not only is this difficult to accomplish, but it is also virtually impossible to ascertain if you have succeeded and to what extent. An organization, for instance, might sponsor a free barbecue for a Fourth of July celebration in the US and never really know if the money spent produced additional business. Management has a difficult time appreciating an activity that produces indirect results.