Thought Leadership

A Blended Approach to Comms and Marketing

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from former Hill & Knowlton U.S. Chairman MaryLee Sachs. She previously reported for PRSAY from the 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. She will be giving a free PRSA webinar at 3 p.m. EDT July 14, on how organizations are making the most of a blended approach to communications and marketing.

The recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was an important reminder to me that the marketing and communications lines are blurring. Even the Festival organizers changed the name of this year’s Festival to “Creativity” from “Advertising,” which was its moniker for its first 57 years.

With a record-breaking 28,800 competition entries from 90 countries, the festival attracted more than 9,000 delegates this year, and client-side attendance was up some 20 percent over 2010. The key themes that seemed to prevail and resonate across the marketing spectrum were engagement and conversation as well as “doing good.”

From an executional point of view, social media and in particular story telling, mobile channels and applications were highly popular topics, too.

One of the best tweets from the Festival was “Tell me I will forget, show me and I might understand, engage me and I will remember” as reported by M&M Magazine — a telling direction of the new marketing discipline.

So an easy question to ask is just how are organizations making the most of a blended approach to communications and marketing? In my new book, “The Changing MO of the CMO” (which I wrote about previously for PRSAY), I spoke with 10 chief marketing officers from significant brands and organizations — both B2C and B2B — to determine how they are changing their structures and talent base in order to take a more holistic approach.

In all cases, these marketers are inclusive of public relations because they understand how reputation is affecting brand performance and ultimately sales. And they are mindful that they need to be engaged with all of their organization’s audiences, not just their customers and their employees.

The research speaks for itself. Consumers are twice as likely to purchase, four times more likely to pay more, and close to 15 times more likely to recommend products and services from a “leading” company than a “failing company,” according to the 2010–2011 Reputation Winners and Losers by Prophet. And three out of four MBA students say that corporate reputation plays an extremely or very important role when considering where to work after their education, according to the H&K Corporate Reputation Watch 2008.

Reputation is becoming a critical driver for talent acquisition and retention.

As marketers consider these and other important aspects of their roles, together with the increased rate of change, they are looking to strengthen their teams so that they are better enabled. In fact, according to a Forrester white paper published last fall, 75 percent of marketers plan to reorganize their function by the end of 2011.

What does that mean for you? And what are the important aspects to consider?

In my upcoming PRSA webinar, I will cover some of the key directions to consider. I’ll be detailing some of the research in my book, and feedback from conversations with CMOs, providing some practical approaches and examples that I have seen contribute to a more holistic approach.

MaryLee Sachs was most recently U.S. chair and worldwide director of consumer marketing at Hill & Knowlton. She is the author of “The Changing MO of the CMO: How the Convergence of Brand and Reputation is Affecting Marketers.”

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MaryLee Sachs

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