Breaking Down Silos

By: Barbara Bates, CEO

I recently came across a file I started years ago full of articles claiming the death of PR is on the horizon. I took the time to reread them, wondering if the premise behind those predictable headlines was right or wrong because I now know that PR is alive and well. What I’ve discovered is that the foundational thinking behind many of these predictions was actually pretty close to reality.

What was wrong, however, was the “all or nothing” attitude they took. The fact is PR is not dead, but it is very different today than it was even just five years go. We’ve learned that there doesn’t need to be a competition between which marketing discipline is better, more effective, etc. because it’s the combination of all communication disciplines that really influences marketing, and ultimately, business success.

Eastwick employees having fun with their Barbara Bates masks.

The challenge companies now face is transforming their organizations from that of siloed strategies and tactical functions into an organization of shared strategy and integrated tactics. In this new world of information overload, it takes a “surround sound” approach to break through the noise and reach your target audience with a coordinated message to drive the results you’re looking for.

While most CMOs are beginning to understand the benefits of integrated communications, few have taken the steps required to break down the silos within their organization to actually achieve prospective results. Evidence of this can be seen with marketing campaigns that are driven out of just one of the groups within marketing, such as digital or social.

A creative Facebook contest that engages a specific audience could go much further if the same contest was tied to newly published research and fueled by media relations to push out carefully placed white papers or ebooks One of our award-winning campaigns this year for SmartHome Ventures is a great example of an integrated campaign that delivered better than hoped for results.

In August 2014, SmartHome Ventures launched both the company, and its flagship product PEQ. Rumors about PEQ had been building up within the industry since January at CES. With Eastwick’s integrated communications approach to campaign development, SmartHome Ventures was able to turn industry speculation into opportunity to reinforce key messaging, and capture media, analyst and consumer interest. The overall campaign included user generated consumer contest, socially engaging content, a major event at CES, and a media relationship strategy that catalyzed fresh content for the company.

By measuring the results of this campaign and staying integrated across all accounts, Eastwick garnered industry recognition and ended up winning several industry awards, including two Agency of the Year awards.

But the real winner was SHV, who garnered 61 million impressions from 128 media hits, gained 2000 new Facebook fans in less than four months, and achieved a higher than 25 percent conversion rate from the UGC contest. Not to mention, PEQ organically started trending on Twitter under the hashtag #PEQParty.

Eight steps to master integrated communications campaigns:

1. Make sure strategy is developed with input from experts in each of your marketing groups. It’s difficult to integrate tactics if you haven’t integrated the strategy.

2. Build a culture of cross-department communication. Internal chat or other social networks are good, coupled with monthly all marketing meetings.

3. Develop shared materials such as a messaging framework, creative briefs and shared calendar that includes events, campaigns, launches, news announcements, that help keep messaging consistent and campaigns coordinated.

4. Hire people who have experience in multiple disciplines and have specialized in one or two areas. This gives you a specific skillset coupled with broader context.

5. Allow staff, especially younger staff to “apprentice” or “intern” in other departments. This will foster collaboration and nurture better-integrated communicators.

6. Create omni-channel campaigns that can be executed using a variety of tactics in multiple disciplines.

7. Content marketing is a primary integrator. Leveraging a core piece of content to drive communications through multiple channels and disciplines will ensure you’re delivering consistent messaging and maximizing results

8. Don’t forget to integrate your events strategy into your campaigns. Companies spend so much money on events and often fail to achieve the full prospective benefits of that spend by not leveraging the content, materials, and themes as part of a larger campaign.

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