PRSA ICON is an appropriate name for what has become a truly iconic event in the world of communications. For the past four years, I’ve had the honor of presenting integrated marketing concepts at the conference. Each year, I’m amazed at how rapidly communicators are embracing integration and using it to their best advantage.
This year’s presentation covers a bit of theory along with some pragmatic tips. In this post, I’ll cover some of the points I’ll be making here in Austin today. Here’s a link to the slideshare version of the presentation as well.
Some people ask me why learn integration? Frankly, I think communicators need at least an awareness of integrated marketing concepts to remain relevant. Beyond that, using an integrated mindset creates more influence for the communications department within the organization while also providing a broader toolkit for the communicator themselves. Finally, making the jump (which really won’t be a jump soon once the silos start breaking down) into a marketing leadership position can’t be done without a strong knowledge of integrated marketing.
Many of us aren’t working at a strategic level yet – so how do we introduce integration into our own work? Basically, integration doesn’t happen without alignment. I think about alignment in three ways: the message, the method and the measurements. Message
On a messaging level, there are two primary tools that can help achieve alignment across not only a communications campaign but an entire marketing department. The first is what I call a Core Strategy Statement. These statements provide a pragmatic description of the how and what of an organization, or a campaign. Even work that is already underway can benefit from a statement like this, as going back to create it can help determine how well aligned your current messages may be. Checking for alignment against this message on a frequent basis – and across channels – can measure how well you’re sticking to the “intent” of the campaign.
Personas are also helpful. They tend to be a digital marketers’ best friend. When reviewing these target customer descriptions, communicators can often identify areas where they might “boost” the results of digital marketing and vice versa. Perhaps a digital marketer is advertising across a certain genre of website. Maybe as a communicator, reaching out in an editorial fashion can help create earned media that will work alongside those banner ads.
Salespeople (if you have them in your organization) and communications people rarely cross paths, particularly in bigger organizations. That’s a shame, because the two roles have so much in common. When I first made the leap into PR from a background in management and sales in the IT industry, I used my sales skills every day to finetune messages when reaching out to the media. In fact, the messages that are resonating for salespeople are often that same messages that will “stick” in social media, content marketing and of course direct pitching. Don’t be afraid to learn what motivates salespeople as well. If you’re working in a B2B environment, you’ve got to understand, or at least explore, how you might contribute to demand generation. Consider ways you could create more leads and incorporate specific calls to action in your own work. We don’t always have that hard line between editorial and sales these days – use it to your advantage.
Communicators have a lot to offer digital marketers as well. Once again, knowing the right call to action and ways to place it in a communications piece can help strengthen the campaign by increasing frequency and consistency, and of course creates more alignment. Remarketing is an incredible tool for communicators as well. I often give the digital marketers in my clients emails of media people that I’m trying to reach. (Most of my clients are not household names but they compete against big brands.) A well placed blog boost on LinkedIn, for example, might just warm up that journalist for my next pitch.
Of course we have to use metrics that really matter. Impressions are no longer relevant, except when used as a baseline for reach. Likes, open rates, and even rankings don’t really drive ROI in many cases. As an industry, we’ve become locked into using KPI achievement as a definition of success, and I think that’s risky. The more measurements we share across functions, the less siloed we become and the more we can encourage cross-functional collaboration. KPI’s are important, but as a communicator you should be able to provide that you are contributing to mindshare, site traffic, demand generation and other major measurements of overall success.
Communicators want a seat at the table. But in order to get there, you have to prove you’re contributing ot the bottom line. Trying to find ways to bridge the gap between not only messaging channels but also different marketing functions, can increase your relevance and influence within an organization or client.