Clients need PRs and Marketers who understand and build on each other’s disciplines, not two tribes ready to go to war.
Sitting in Europe, where our clients are often responsible for both PR and Marketing, but may have little experience of one or other of the disciplines, our role as integrated communications consultants is of paramount importance in our ability to partner and provide the best advice. The technology organisations that come to Europe from the US, the Middle East or Asia, in ‘start-up’ mode, desperately needing to make every buck work for more bang, rely on us to guide them through the maze of options available, and help them pick the two or three tactics that are going to get them tangible, yet sustainable, results, most quickly.
Yet often, and sadly, consultants who work for organisations that specialise in one discipline still come to client meetings thinking about how they can ‘take’ budget from others, and fill their own pockets, without truly considering what’s in the client’s best interest – and how collaborating with other partners, and growing the client’s business may eventually bring everybody more budget.
Never has this been more obvious to me than during a meeting to discuss a new product launch for a client, in which the contributions from the SEO, digital and content marketing teams came before that of PR (which we had been hired to do), and during which the lead from the content agency turned to us and said, “and then you can publish a press release to some journalists, or whatever it is that you do”.
Resisting the urge to explain that PR professionals have been marketing to thick and thin slices of audience using original content forever, and that paying a bunch of bloggers was not the only route to getting the word out, we realised that our years of experience of crafting messages that aim to persuade, engage, or sell, put us in a unique position to be able to take the lead in integrated campaigning.
Being able to explain the difference between what a journalist or editor is looking for, versus what a customer (whether business or consumer) may need to be persuaded of, and how to frame messages to all constituents that are not the hard sell, but gently and firmly push the audience to the conclusion you wish for, is invaluable to clients who may have only ever been exposed to the data driven, functional ads to clicks to sales process that makes up typical small to medium businesses marketing activity, and which doesn’t work on its own when creating a category, or disrupting an established industry.
Demonstrating how using all the tools in the armoury, to influence, engage, and close with a prospective customer via all the channels they’re in, is gold-dust, deepening relationships with clients who use our advice to educate their internal teams, in turn helping them gain more budget for their activity and more influence for themselves, and creating life-long symbiotic relationships that don’t end when a product is launched, or a number met.