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Different Schools of Communication Have Plenty To Teach Each Other

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

At the Global PR Summit in Miami this week, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a panel discussion called “It’s a Conversation, Not a Campaign: What Marketers Can Learn From PR.” The panel featured C-suite communications executives from the likes of Lenovo and Proctor & Gamble discussing how traditionally separate communications disciplines are becoming more and more integrated in today’s digital world.

That is, marketers must learn to speak the language of PR and social media to meaningfully engage today’s consumers. The top piece of information most public relations practitioners (83% of those surveyed) think marketers need to learn is that reputation is a consequence of the authentic behavior of an organization.

This lesson was underscored by Dave Roman, SVP and CMO of Lenovo, who noted that there’s no longer anywhere for brands to hide. “You have to be much more open when you can’t control the message.” Being open and transparent is a necessary condition of instilling a sense of trust and empathy with your clients, and to many public relations professionals, this is critical for marketers to internalize.

The survey cited by this panel also asked marketers what they think PR people need to learn. Not surprisingly, they have to do with analytics – a field marketers have mastered. 78% of marketers believed PR pros needed to learn how to shape their decision-making with data and analytics. 63% thought PR pros needed to learn how to quantify their results.

While marketers design their campaigns around research-based messages – determined by market data, audience attitudes, and demographics – some corporate PR departments still “wing it,” said the panel. (I am fortunate to be with an agency not among the “winging it” contingent.)

In short, all communications disciplines have a lot to learn from each other. We can learn creativity and emotional resonance from advertising. We can learn how to use metrics to not only judge a campaign, but design it, from marketing. We can learn the art of storytelling, how to create authentic connections with customers, and build a brand’s reputation from public relations.  And when all these fields sit at the same communications table, a brand will be that much stronger for it.

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