Change is in the air as the walls that so neatly separated paid, earned and owned media are slowly coming down. Is your communications team or agency ready for what’s ahead?
As I mentioned in my last blog post, the framework for all of my contributions here will be the concept of integrated marketing, a customer-centric, data-driven approach to marketing that ensures that all marketing activities – both social and traditional – work together to create a seamless brand experience.
Let’s take a tour of some recent developments that illustrate the importance of integrated marketing. In April of 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission gave the OK for companies to use social media to disclose material information, as long as you’ve given the public advanced notice of which social media outlets you’ll be using. What does this mean for integrated marketing? Your investor relations team better be speaking with your corporate communications and social media teams. Timing is critical – what if the news clears on Facebook before the press release or the tweet hits?
Also that same April, FedEx promoted Patrick Fitzgerald to a new role that integrated both corporate communications and marketing. His job is to lead “the full integration of communications, brand, advertising, and sponsorships for one of the world’s most admired companies and brands.” This will be a daunting task given the breadth of FedEx’s communication and marketing activities, but offers huge potential if all of these functions can work together.
I can’t speak for all the changes that integrated marketing poses for advertising or digital agencies, but I can tell you what I’m seeing on the PR side. Public relations agencies have responded either by making dramatic changes to their business models, or by cutting back drastically due to lost revenue. I’m seeing agencies buy up digital shops, staff up on digital marketing and social media professionals, partner with marketing automation vendors, roll out new self-service or staff-powered online tools, and yes, even embrace paid media.
Why is PR trying to muscle in on advertising’s territory? Because the nature of today’s most popular social networks – and more specifically the amount of noise that companies need to rise above – is forcing marketers to pay for messages to be seen by more people on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
When the leader of one of the world’s largest independent PR agencies says our industry needs to embrace advertising, I listen. So far, this has been limited to sponsored content (like tweets and Facebook posts), but I am curious how this will evolve.
Public relations is at a crossroads, and if it is to survive, it must adapt. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Todd Van Hoosear is vice president of public relations for Eric Mower + Associates' Boston office, where he helps clients in the engineering, mobile, cloud, networking, consumer technology and consulting spaces bring new ideas – and new takes on old ideas – to the market. He also teaches new media and public relations at Boston University, and serves as a Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Find him on Twitter at @vanhoosear.
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