PR Training

Integrated Marketing Is A Mindset, Not A Mandate

Editor’s Note: Steve Radick is presenting “Improved Decision-Making: Leveraging Your Team’s Strengths and Filling in the Gaps” at the PRSA Strategic Collaboration Conference on Friday, April 24. Register to attend the conference to learn more about Steve’s topic.

According to a 2013 Forbes survey, 68% of CMOs and marketing executives put integrated marketing communications ahead of “effective advertising” (65%), when they were asked what the most important thing is that they want from an agency. That’s the result of years of agency specialization and the emergence of PR agencies, digital agencies, social agencies, creative agencies, etc. Managing all of these specialties became a job unto itself and brands are increasingly asking for both the expertise AND integration.

Unfortunately, this saturation has created a buzzword without any real meaning. Go to any agency’s website, any conference, any academic program, any industry publication and you’ll see the result – “integrated marketing” is everywhere. Integrated marketing has become nothing more than a bunch of boxes on an org chart – get the Director of Search, and a VP of Media, a Director of PR, a Senior Social Media Strategist, and a User Experience Czar in the same meeting and poof! you’ve got an integrated marketing team.

Here’s the thing. That doesn’t mean you’ve got an integrated marketing agency. What you’re more likely to have is an old-fashioned game of Hungry Hungry Hippos – everyone’s scratching and clawing to get more money and power for their respective discipline. By involving all of the functional experts, all you’ve done is get a bunch of hammers looking for nails in your meeting. That is, the social media guy will try to think of ways for social media to solve everything. The paid media guy wants a paid media solution. And so on and so on. You end up with a bunch of strategies and tactics that someone then has to cobble together into a deck that is probably organized by discipline vs. a single integrated, coherent strategy.

Integrated marketing isn’t about mandating that each capability gets a seat at the table. It’s about making sure that each seat at the table is filled by someone who is focused on meeting the business goals, regardless of capability. And perhaps counterintuitively, that may mean that those experts you went out and hired should give up their seat at the table. In my session at the PRSA Strategic Collaboration Conference on April 24th, I’ll discuss how to better leverage your team’s strengths to make integrated marketing a mindset that drives better results. I hope you’ll join me, but if you can’t, here are three tips to help create that integrated marketing mindset in your organization.

Make your org chart a little fuzzy. Functional experts, by definition, have gone deep into one particular area. Integrated marketers, on the other hand, have to be more of a jack-of-all-trades and they don’t always fit nicely into your existing org chart. Don’t force these people into a box. They’ll more valuable if they’re encouraged to flow in and out of those boxes.

Stop rewarding fiefdoms. If I’m judged solely by how much PR business I have or by how many clients I can upsell PR to, that’s where my focus is going to be. Rather than using all of our capabilities, I’m going to try to wedge PR in there whatever way I can. Truly integrated agencies reward integrated thinking, not empire-building.

Stop organizing your deliverables according to your org chart. Rather than creating different deliverables/sections/budgets for each discipline, consider organizing things based on the customer journey. This requires getting all of the disciplines working together on the same slides, not just copying and pasting their respective sections into a deck. Integrated marketing is a new way of working together to create new thinking, not a new way of organizing what we’ve always done.

I hope to see everyone in New York next month at the PRSA Strategic Collaboration Conference!

Steve Radick is VP, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh, one of the top 75 advertising agencies in the U.S. At Brunner, he’s responsible for leading the integration of earned media and public relations strategies into advertising and marketing campaigns across the agency’s portfolio including clients like Huffy, Bob Evans, Cub Cadet and Knouse Foods. He recently joined Brunner after leading the PR team at Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago where he supported a variety of clients including Cedar Fair Amusement Parks, Maui Jim, Cetaphil, Vitamix, and Heinz.

Steve is also the VP and President-Elect of the PRSA Pittsburgh chapter and is a frequent speaker on public relations, marketing, and leadership. He spent nine years at management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, where he created and led their social media and digital strategy practice. He started and still authors the Social Media Strategery blog at www.steveradick.com where he blogs about the “social” part of social media and the “relations” part of public relations.  

Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, he grew up a die-hard Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates fan and graduated from Bethany College with a B.A. in Communication. He’s the proud father of three daughters and possesses a keen knowledge of the movie Frozen.  

4 Comments

  • Great blog, Steve. “Integration” is often misunderstood for some reason, and as you point out, often not done very well. Whether PR, Marketing, Digital or Sales, our purpose as employees, vendors, agencies or leaders is to help our companies and clients achieve positive results for their business needs. The part that many good folks do not want to see, or often cannot seem to see, is that these results are typically the same goals for all of us—not special, proprietary goals that do not have any relation to each other. I vote for fuzzier job titles and impressive impact over silo thinking and mediocre results hands down. :>)

  • @John – thanks for the comment. Great points all around, and I agree on the fuzzy job titles. While I was at Booz Allen, we even went so far as to give everyone pretty much the same title – Consultant, Senior Consultant, Associate, etc. – without regard to functional specialty. It helped to avoid some of the functional sandboxing that takes (it introduced a whole set of other issues, but that’s a totally different blog post!). Everyone has to stay focused on the ultimate goal – otherwise, you end up with a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul situations that don’t do anyone any good.

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