Survey: Marketing and PR alignment a must for success

CMO Council survey says data must be the shared source of truth for marketing and public relations teams to reach full integration and maximise brand messaging

Brand leaders are looking for better integration between public relations and marketing as COVID-19 has increased the importance of delivering cohesive messaging, according to the CMO Council’s latest report.  

The Bridging the Gap for Comms & Marketing report, produced in partnership with Cision, investigates the best practices and technologies CMOs need to overcome the challenges of aligning marketing and communications teams.

It found in order for organisations to achieve this integration, they must collaborate within the one constant both teams can agree upon - data. Data needs to be the central source of truth and expert data analysts need to interpret the data as it relates to specific KPIs in order to understand progress and ROIs.

"With the majority of the world now spending significantly more time at home, consumption, sharing and engaging with digital media has only increased,” said CMO Council executive director, Donovan Neale-May.

“In many cases, digital media now singularly impacts buying decisions and how consumers feel about brands, only amplifying the importance of consistent messaging across media channels. Yet over half of respondents agreed that when it comes to amplifying and aligning media strategies, there isn’t strong alignment between their teams.”

The report surveyed more than 150 brand leaders with nearly a dozen in-depth interviews with executives from companies including IBM, Nokia, Center for Creative Leadership, R&R Partners and InnerWorkings. Zeighty-one per cent of respondents said the change in global business climate due to the pandemic has led to a rise in earned media efforts and importance. Yet, despite this, one out of five were dissatisfied with their earned media performance.

“Without proper marketing-comms alignment, owned media doesn’t get amplified, paid media efficiency falls and conflicting earned media messages confuse and frustrate customers,” the report said.

For many brands, the marketing and communications teams come under the remit of the CMO, who ensures consistent themes and messaging across all media channels. However, with earned media under the purview of comms, and owned and paid media controlled by marketing, they survey found the teams have varying goals, resources and media-channel effectiveness.

“Underscoring alignment troubles is a decades-old dysfunctional relationship. Comms and marketing teams are often adversaries battling for budget and respect. Earned media under comms wasn’t deemed as important as paid and owned media under marketing, yet earned media has recently been able to prove otherwise,” the report said.

Improving marketing-comms alignment

The report found an umbrella organisational structure, whereby comms and marketing teams come under a single brand leader, is the best way to maintain alignment. When it comes to the top three internal processes for better aligning marketing and comms, the report noted having cross-functional team meetings (77 per cent), integrated campaigns (63 per cent) and shared goals and metrics (57 per cent).

“Marketing and comms teams can benefit from working together even though they have different missions, or at least different ways of executing on the same mission. The idea is to find areas of overlap and collaboration that will make both groups successful,” the report said.

The pandemic might even lead to new ways of aligning marketing and comms, according to the report. The pandemic has seen the blending of skills, doing away with locked in functional roles and quickly shifting strategies and resources, and these may remain even after the crisis has passed.

“Shifting roles and resources may become the new normal. Brand leaders should consider ways to become more agile and adaptable. This may mean hiring people who are willing to pitch in outside of their comfort zones or standing up ad hoc teams for temporary projects,” the report said.

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