Integrated Communications: More than Just a Marketing Buzzword
“Integrated communications” is undoubtedly the latest buzzword in marketing, however it’s not just an abstract idea to be discussed but a strategy all marketers should be putting into practice.
That was a main takeaway from the Breakfast Byte event, “Integrating Marketing Communications and Maximizing the Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Mix” hosted Thursday by Cognito New York. The event featured a panel discussion moderated by Binna Kim, Cognito’s New York Managing Director and expert panelists Ken Fredman, the global head of digital marketing for BNY Mellon Investment Management; Kevin Windorf, president of the Financial Communications Society and Allan Schoenberg, head of communications for Bloomberg Professional Service.
As channels constantly evolve and lines between them continue to blur, the panelists noted that being integrated is merely table stakes for today’s marketing communications professionals.
“It’s a buzzword that kind of annoys me because integrated marketing is what we do as marketers and communicators,” said Windorf. “Shame on us if we think of our skills as being siloed because we might work in an organization that is siloed. Integrated is what we do day in and day out.”
Indeed, the panelists stated that overcoming internal organizational siloes can often be the biggest barrier to achieving true integrated communications. According to Schoenberg, the key is for marketing and PR professionals to have skills outside of their core competency, something he said has almost become a necessity since the financial crisis forced firms to do more with less people.
“You have to be cross-functional these days,” he added.
Windorf further noted that it is each communications professional’s responsibility to reach across slios as much as possible.
“It’s not just about the org chart,” he said. “Sometimes internal politics can derail a truly integrated effort, but we’re all in this together. Sometimes you have to ignore the boxes on the org chart; it’s our responsibility to take care of the brand by making sure the left hand and the right hand know what’s going on.”
Kim articulated that with the proliferation of channels in the paid, earned, shared and owned mix – and the blurring of those channels as well – it can be difficult for marketers to determine which of them are the most appropriate for each campaign. “There’s so many different platforms and channels we can all be using, when is one channel more effective than another?” she asked the panel.
According to Fredman, more important than choosing the right channel is crafting a compelling message regardless of which channel you utilize.
“If you have something that doesn’t have a hook, it won’t be effective no matter what channel you are using,” he said. “The important thing people should realize is that there should be the same consistency in the messaging no matter the channel.”
Schoenberg agreed, adding that choosing which channels should be emphasized depends on what the marketer is trying to achieve in each instance.
“It depends on your perspective,” he said. “Whether it’s a small or a large campaign, who the audience is. Sometimes going to the trade press won’t be appropriate, in other cases it might be. You have to know what you’re trying to achieve ahead of time.”
Fredman further noted that with the rise of digital technology, and the many analytical tools available to marketers, there should be no excuse for failing to measure and track results, especially in alignment with sales and revenue generation.
“Integration with the CRM is cheaper and easier than before,” he said. “There’s really simple tools for getting the data all in one place.”
Ultimately, noted Kim, while the idea of integrated communications has been around for a while, the element of putting into practice is something marketers must still pursue on a daily basis.
What do you think: How can marketing and communications pros achieve a truly integrated approach to their work? Let us know in the comments section below and join the conversation.
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