It’s the reason why 82 per cent of CMOs plan to increase their investment in social media in the next year
So for a topic shrouded in controversy… that is, the ongoing struggle between PR pros and their Marketing brethren. Like a Shakespearean tragedy, it’s a tale full of twists and turns as the two attempt to play nice. Mimicking jealous siblings separated in age, both believe they’re misunderstood by the other, still they covert the other’s attention. Marketing, being the more mature of the two, has some right to feel PR should just slide under its umbrella. On the other hand PR, the Johnny-come-lately, feels like it should own the brand as the custodian of its messaging, and therefore the strategic impetus.
Ok, yes! Yes, I make generalisations on my Blog for the purposes of drawing illustrations, but just because it is not a universal rule, doesn’t mean it’s not a big problem!
The issue I see is deeply seeded in a Tertiary Education system that doesn’t equip students with an appropriate understanding of what Marketing and PR is really about. In the real world (outside of academia), the theory goes out the window. When you enter the workforce, you are only as good as the wars you’ve lived through. But, I won’t go down that path – that would be more a thesis than a Blog post! Instead, what I want to share is my thoughts about how through social media you can avoid these statements:
Marketing Pro: “Hey PR guy, we’ve got this program we are launching next week to support the product we launched last quarter, can you PR it!?”
PR Pro: “Hey Marketing peeps, sorry but we can’t really help you with your product launch, journalists aren’t interested in product launches, unless you’ve got a customer!?”
Both of these things, I’m sad to say, I’ve heard too often in my career. It’s frustrating because with a little empathy, with some perspective, the power of clever marketing in combination with PR is second-to-none in delivering tangible business outcomes that are organisationally defining and market disruptive. In fact, one without the other is pretty useless. The issue is the perpetually defeatist cycle. People put up walls when they think what they do isn’t respected, understood or appreciated. With each recurrence, the bricks pile higher. So what is the solution in the short term, knowing that reinventing the scope of academia and its associated syllabus is a distant goal?
For me it’s social media and this is why:
Activation: It’s important to note, Marketing and PR are inextricably linked. They are both about identifying opportunity to exert influence. They do it in different ways, but fundamentally, they are about activating an individual or audience, so as to engineer a supportive response. With the likes of social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, organisations now have a direct and transparent way to activate community. Both PR and Marketing must work together on this front, firstly to decide what the primary vehicle should be for specific campaigns; Facebook for promotions, Linkedin for Whitepapers for example, but also, who owns the process. There should be a clear content calendar, centrally managed and it should forecast a year out! Of course this will be fluid and change on a regular basis, but it is the first step towards having an aligned and integrated way for both PR and Marketing pros to strategically position the corporation and its wares at a micro and macro level in a consistent, believable way, to engender the highest level of market buy-in. PR shapes perception over time, so MARKETING PRO, give your PR PRO some time to do it!
Speed: The single greatest challenge we all wrestle with is the pressure of time. We all feel like we could do with some more of it. With social media becoming a micro-publishing tool for organisations to share tailored messaging on mass, in an instant, it can feel like our time has halved again. It’s sometimes a little like Dr Who with his Tardis – picking your moment becomes critical, as does your choice of destination. From the outside it looks like the window is small with no margin for error and it can be overwhelming, but in actual fact social media gives you unparalleled speed to market and as a result unprecedented flexibility. What this means for PR and Marketing pros is the PR team can loop back real time feedback and sentiment into marketing programs. This agility enables both functions to coordinate cohesively. With more efficient outreach, you actually buy back time, so PR PRO, give your MARKETING PRO the detail they require!
Visibility: IBM’s Global CMO Study recently revealed that while top marketing executives recognise social media as an important channel for engaging customers, 80 per cent are still to view it as a primary source for strategic insight, relying instead on traditional sources of information like market research to help shape customer engagement. Scarily, only 26 per cent of CMOs track blogs, with 42 per cent monitoring third-party reviews, while 48 per cent read consumer reviews to help shape their plans. This flies in the face of a PulsePoint study which found that companies with an established extensive social media program report a return on investment that is four times that of companies with little or no social network engagement.
Thankfully 82 per cent of CMOs plan to increase the investment in social media, which is stated as a top priority. Tools like Klout are making it easier for marketers to come to grips with the PR implications of social media with tracking of referral traffic, click rates, followers, likes, and time spent on each page of Blogs etc easier to capture and utilise. Klout helps you discover who you influence and what topics you’re influential about.
For a deeper level of visibility again, Adobe is an emerging player in this space. Adobe has positioned itself as the only organisation that covers both the creative and strategic elements of the marketing matrix. With its social media mantra, to build on insights, not intuition, its new Adobe Social solution from its Marketing Cloud is definitely worth a look. So… MARKETING PRO make sure you invest in tools that allow you to integrate with your communities – your PR PROs are to you what you should be to your sales team!
Synchronicity: One cog in your machine only turns with the other. You need to regularly plan and assess the performance of your social media activities. Understand what juncture you are at in the sales cycle: awareness, consideration, or purchase. A solid PR/Marketing Program understands that you don’t always have a reference customer to leverage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use advocates to validate your launches and thoughts. Analysts on social media can be a fantastic way to drive both PR and Marketing outcomes that find balance in each other. So… PR PRO next time you see a product launch coming up, realise there is a lot more you can do to support your MARKETING PRO than flog a case study – communications has never been and never will be one dimensional.
– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter