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How Effective Are Your Integrated Communications Programs?

Vocus recently surveyed public relations professionals to gauge their perceptions regarding integrated communications. The results of the survey will be presented and discussed during a free webinar I am participating in today. While we’ll explore the survey findings in detail during the webinar, I wanted to share some highlights from the survey I found particularly interesting:

  • Silos? What Silos? – the majority of marketing and PR professionals work together to develop common communication strategies, though either side doesn’t regularly include the other in cross-functional meetings. There appears to be less division between PR and marketing professionals than in years past. From my standpoint, this is all the work of social media. Social media has increased the need for collaboration among all communications professionals, as everything is out in the open. Organizations can no longer ignore what is being said about them and they need to work as a team to listen, monitor, engage and interact with audiences.
  • The Ownership Debate Rages On – who owns social media? Am I the only one that rolls my eyes when I hear this question? While I think it’s the wrong question, it’s clear that the issue is important among survey respondents. Not surprisingly, PR professionals are more passionate about owning social media. Organizations should focus more on how to leverage and integrate social media strategies to further improve sales and marketing performance. That said, the ‘turf wars’ aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Integrated Communications Works – survey respondents report sales and ROI as the single most important factor in measuring the results of an integrated communications strategy (and they report more of it when things are integrated). The key takeaway for me on this one is that measurement remains a focal point of any marketing endeavor. If there’s anything that will make integrated communications a reality, it’s driving towards improved measurement of results across all sales and marketing investments. When organizations go down this path, they have no choice but to integrate their communications – because everything is linked across the sales and marketing supply chain.
  • Centralized Management – PR and Marketing report to the same boss in most instances. This is a good sign that supports integration. Centralized management makes it easier to orchestrate collaboration between teams. To take things a step further, get senior management on board with integrated communications – if they don’t understand, you’ll constantly be fighting to justify your communications strategies.

The key lesson from this data is that we’re still hung up on labels and titles quite a bit. Ownership of social media could very well be the ticket to job security and career advancement – but that shouldn’t be your justification to want to take things over. In reality, it should be the professionals best suited to listen and talk with audiences with specific communications strategies and marketing objectives in mind.

In most cases, public relations professionals already have an idea, transferable skill set to adapt quickly to social media marketing. That said, I’ve seen more than my fair share of advertising, branding, marketing communications, and interactive marketing professionals become social media superstars to think there’s any single magic formula.

Every organization is different. Every team is different. Every campaign is different. Every person you interact with is different. How you deal with the reality of that situation is up to you – but rather than do what some other company is doing, you might want to try something different.

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