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Vocus White Paper

Blurring Lines, Turf Battles and Tweets:


The Real Impact of Integrated Communications on Marketing and PR

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Vocus White Paper

Summary

Over the course of April 2010, Vocus surveyed 1094 public relations professionals about their
experiences and views of integrated communications: a concept defined by Vocus as follows:

In the context of this survey, the term “integrated communications” means a


management concept that ties all aspects of marketing communication, including, but
not limited to advertising, search marketing, sales promotion, public relations and direct
marketing, together to function in a unified and comprehensive fashion as opposed to
functioning in isolation or silos.

Key findings include the following:

The lines between PR and marketing are blurring. Marketing and PR have
formalised working relationships; however, “formal” does not necessarily mean
“functional.” Seventy-nine per cent of marketing and PR professionals say they report to
the same boss, while 78% report formal working relationships to create a common
communications strategy. However, 67% of respondents hold cross-functional meetings
only “sometimes”, with a further 19% answering “rarely” or “never.”

“Turf battles” still evident. Despite formalised processes or structures, 33% cited
“organisational structures, functional silos, or turf battles” as the single largest barrier to
integrated communications. The next largest barrier is budget shortcomings, cited by
20%.

Ownership of social media and blogging still undecided. PR and marketing both
have a strong sense of ownership of social media. Forty-three per cent of PR
professionals feel they should own social media, while 35% of marketers claim it for
themselves. Thirty-eight per cent of PR professionals think PR should own the
corporate blog, while 24% of marketers feel that it belongs to marketing.

Benefits and communication measurement provides common ground. Forty-eight


per cent of marketing and PR professionals say that integrated communications
increases the overall effectiveness of their outreach programs. Out of six possible
factors for measuring the success of an integrated communications strategy, “sales and
ROI” takes a clear lead with 48%.

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Vocus White Paper

Introduction

Social media has reinvigorated industry discussion on integrated communications, a concept


that has existed for several decades. Until recently, it seemed more idealistic than practical,
with PR and marketing often functioning independently, reporting to different department leads,
and ultimately measuring different results.

Traditionally, PR has focused on reputation, earned media, third-party validation, and


awareness-building. Marketing has traditionally focused on advertising, sponsorships and lead-
generation. In general, the conversation around integrated communications has centred on how
the two disciplines could be orchestrated to increase the overall effectiveness of outreach.

Now, social media is facilitating the marriage of the two, since it contains elements that both
disciplines find appealing and complementary to their existing efforts. Consequently, the debate
has shifted towards who should “own” social media and, more importantly, how best to integrate
social media with broader marketing or communications channels.

Undoubtedly, social media has provided PR with the opportunity to obtain a more central role in
marketing, and there appears to be a trend for senior executives with PR backgrounds to take
the helm of the overall marketing organisation.1

PR agencies are taking an early lead in the social-media world, according to Simon Clift, chief
marketing officer at Unilever who, in a recent interview with Financial Times, describes digital
PR as “word of mouth on steroids”. 2

However there are caveats to pinning social media responsibilities to one department, and to
considering social media as a channel in isolation. Beth Harte, an adjunct professor and Senior
Subject Matter Expert, Digital Marketing at Serengeti Communications, believes that the term
“social media marketing” implies an independent channel, both separated from and replacing
other or traditional marketing disciplines. In a recent blog entry, she argues that this way of
thinking “silos social media from other marketing communications tactics and other marketing
disciplines.” 3

Like Harte, we are advocates of a collaborative and integrated approach to communications,


and this survey is intended to illustrate and analyse the current state of integrated
communications within the industry.

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Survey demographics

A total of 1094 respondents answered our survey, having been solicited primarily through e-
mail. Respondents were almost evenly divided between PR and marketing professionals in the
discipline they most closely identified with,
by a measure of 53% and 47% respectively
(Chart A).

Respondents tended to have substantial


experience, with 69% identifying as senior
level or above and a further 20% as mid-
career (Chart B).

The majority of respondents currently work


for corporations (46%). However, other
survey takers come from diverse work
environments including non-profits (20%),
PR agencies (13%) and educational or
academic institutions (10%). Government
employees and self-employed or freelance
practitioners made up 5% and 6% of
respondents respectively.

Respondents currently working for


corporations or agencies (N = 643) were
asked an additional demographic question
on their organisation‟s focus. A majority
(62%) reported a business-to-business
(B2B) focus, while 36% reported a
business-to-consumer (B2C) focus. Two
per cent reported a business-to-government
(B2G) focus.

A matter of formality

At first glance, integrated communications


seems to have substantial momentum: a
majority of respondents say that their
organisations have formal structures to
facilitate collaboration. However, as
subsequent data demonstrates, despite
formally integrated structure and
organisation, there are strong indicators of
barriers in execution.

Nearly 80% of respondents say that


marketing and PR both report to the same
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department head in their organisations (Chart C). This is slightly higher than a previous
survey, conducted by Forbes Insights in late 2009, which reported that 73% of CMOs say they
are responsible for PR.4

Both disciplines say they work together formally to develop or execute a common
communication strategy (Chart D). It‟s interesting to note that a majority of respondents believe
this is the right approach – that they buy into the concept – as shown by a follow-up question
(Chart E). We view this statistic as a positive indication - a step in the right direction - as,
historically, marketing and PR have reported to separate channels and viewed their
responsibilities as distinct.

When asked if their organisations were more focused on integrated communications this year
than they were last year, 61% answered that they were, while 32% reported little change. Only
4% said they were less focused, while 3% said integrated communications wasn‟t a focus in
either 2009 or 2010.

The data shows that the majority of PR and marketing professionals no longer report to
separate department heads; instead, they are being melded into a single team. As such, this
survey supports the idea that, at least from a leadership standpoint, the lines between marketing
and PR are blurring, making it harder to discern where one discipline begins and ends. In fact,
we‟d go so far as to say the days of “silos” are waning.

As one respondent wrote in a representative open-ended response: “The grey line between
marketing and PR is (rightly) diminishing, especially considering there are new ways to promote
your company (one could argue that social media is part of both marketing and PR). Overall,
marketing and PR have the same goal, and while they have different tactics to obtain that goal,
their strategies need to co-align.”

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A cautionary tale

There are some notes of caution in these results. Nearly one-fifth of respondents reported a lack
of any formal structure in place for developing integrated communications programmes in their
organisation. For the others, it‟s important to note that merely having a formal structure does
not necessarily indicate successful integration. The challenge is to ensure that collaboration
actually happens in practice.

53% of our respondents self-identified as PR professionals and 47% as marketing


professionals. When we segmented the two groups‟ answers, we discovered that negative
sentiment towards integrated communications was more prevalent among PR professionals
than among marketers.

For example, 14% of PR respondents disagreed that PR and marketing should report to the
same department head, while just 3% of marketers felt the same way. Eighteen per cent of PR
respondents and 10% of marketers said “maybe.”

Why do some professionals disagree with the idea of reporting to the same department head?
Open-ended answers to this question provide qualitative insight. Here is a representative
sample of responses from both groups.

PR Marketing

Why [Do you believe marketing and PR should have separate reporting channels]?

In our organisation, marketing has a more Difference between longview (marketing) and
tactical focus, whereas PR has a more near-future (PR) efforts make for difficulty in
strategic focus: messaging and positioning. streamlining efforts.
PR and marketing are two separate roles. PR Our PR group does PR for the entire company
works with and engages with the media. and not per business [units]. Marketing
Marketing thinks everything a company does departments focus on business [units] and
is "newsworthy", when it's not. products.
Whereas I believe PR people understand how The style of work and expertise required for
marketing works for the most part, I have marketing and PR is vastly different.
found the opposite is rarely true.

These remarks illustrate the fact that some


professionals have strong and paradoxical
viewpoints. The first remark in each
column is telling. The PR professional says
marketing is tactical and PR is strategic.
Meanwhile, the marketing professional says
PR is tactical and marketing is strategic.

When asked if they conduct cross-


functional meetings to coordinate PR and
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Chart F
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marketing efforts, the vast majority, 67%, said “sometimes” (Chart F) leaving us with a
dichotomy.

Some formal working relationships may indeed exist formally, but if cross-functional teams
“rarely” or only “sometimes” meet (81% of all respondents), they aren‟t necessarily functional.
The statistics suggest a degree of lip-service, in which integration happens at a planning level
but breaks down during execution. This finding mirrors anecdotal evidence we observe daily in
client feedback, discussions with practitioners and commentary throughout the industry.

Barriers and turf battles

Barriers and turf battles are perhaps the single most interesting finding in the study. Despite
significant progress in aligning organisational structures, turf battles still exist. In fact, the battle
over turf was by far named as the largest barrier to integrated communications, cited by 33% of
respondents. Budget shortcomings were next (20%), followed by time (13%) and organisational
culture (12%).

These results underscore the point made previously: reporting to the same department head
does not necessarily constitute integrated communications. Even though a majority of
respondents report to the same department head and have formal mechanisms in place for an
integrated approach, the fact remains that „turf‟ is still a very real challenge. (Chart G).

A question of ownership

Turf battles became even more apparent when the topic of “ownership” of social media and
blogs was introduced. We asked survey participants which discipline “owns” 11 different
functions including analyst relations, media relations, search engine optimisation (SEO), and
speaking engagements. As well as PR and marketing, the questions also offered the alternative
discplines of sales, customer support and product management as possible owners, although
marketing or PR were chosen far more often. We performed a cross-tab analysis of answers for

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the two functions for which marketing and PR professionals feel the strongest sense of
ownership: corporate blogging and social media.

For social media, 43% of PR professionals feel they should own it, while 35% of marketers
claim it for themselves. Few cede ground: just 8% of PR pros say social media is a marketing
responsibility, while 11% of marketers say PR should own it. Forty-one percent of marketers
and 39% of PR professionals view social media as a shared responsibility (Chart H).

As for the corporate blog, 37% of PR professionals think PR should own it, while 23% of
marketers claim it. However, it‟s worth noting that while only 6% of PR professionals said
marketing should own blogging, 13% of marketers said PR should maintain control. Nineteen
percent of PR professionals and 25% of marketing professionals said that both disciplines
should share the responsibility (Chart I).

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We must bear in mind that social media can mean different things to different people. For
example, from a marketing perspective, social media could mean running the Facebook fan
page or a Twitter handle, while, to a PR person, it could mean multimedia press releases, or
online reputation and social media monitoring.

However, what‟s striking about the data is that less than half of respondents – in either group –
think that social media and blogging should be shared. More importantly, a sizable percentage
within each group claims exclusive ownership of them. The result: turf battles.

It‟s interesting to note that, until relatively recently, ownership of social media often tended to fall
to whoever stepped up to actually do it. Our data suggests that this situation, if not already a
thing of the past, is changing fast as social media becomes more pervasive throughout
marketing and communications.

The results for “who owns blogging” are also surprising. First, nearly a third of respondents
answered “not applicable” – which poses the question: are blogs coming or going? Secondly,
there is less sense of ownership of corporate blogs among marketers, which was surprising
given the SEO value and lead generation results that blogs are proven to produce. PR
professionals appear more inclined to claim blogging, which reflects the trend for blogs to be
increasingly viewed as an “owned” media placement, as opposed to an “earned” or “paid” media
placement.

Measurement finds common ground

The benefits of integrated communications begin to bridge the gap between PR and marketing.
Both sides cite the most prominent benefits of integrated communications as: consistency in
messaging (56% of all respondents ranked it as being of the highest importance), increased
overall effectiveness (48%), and being more strategic in overall efforts (45%) (Chart J). These
views make sense: from receptionist to CEO, organisations are more effective if they speak with
one consistent voice.

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One area where marketing and PR are aligned is in measuring results. A clear majority (48% of
all respondents), cited sales and ROI as the single most important factor in measuring the
results of an integrated communications strategy (Chart K). A cross-tab analysis shows that
54% of marketers and 42% of PR professionals cite sales and ROI as the most critical
measurement factor (Chart L).

Again, we need another note of caution. While 36% of PR professionals cite visibility and buzz
as the most indicator of success, just 22% of marketers share this view. While these disciplines
may be working together, there‟s a danger of disconnection in execution due to different means
of evaluating success.

It‟s arguable that professionals focused on PR should measure by different metrics than those
focused on marketing. Ultimately, however, both disciplines will best serve their organisations
by aligning their own, function-specific goals with larger, organisational goals – such as sales,
perhaps fundraising (in the case of a non-profit), or membership (in the case of an association).
A properly-executed integrated communications strategy should boost the effectiveness of an
organisation enough to produce tangible results.

In your own words: Defining integrated communications

We asked several open-ended questions in this survey, and it seems fitting to conclude this
paper by sharing the responses. They highlight another common denominator of marketing and
PR: word choice. We received 727 responses to the question: how do you define integrated
communications in your own words – and we‟ve displayed the data in two ways.

Firstly, we‟ve used the tag cloud tool Wordle (www.wordle.net), to analyse the words that
marketing and PR professionals used to define integrated communications. We removed
obvious phrases like “marketing” and “PR”, as respondents with backgrounds in both disciplines

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used these words liberally – as might be expected (Chart M). Comparing both, you‟ll notice a
similar vernacular, notably: “message,” “together,” “brand,” and “consistent.”

Secondly, we‟ve compiled a side-by-side comparison of some selected responses that are
representative of the entire sample. Ten responses from marketing and PR professionals are
included.

In your own words, how would you define integrated communications?

Chart M

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PR Marketing

In your own words, how would you define integrated communications?

Using the full range of communications channels to Branding messaging and strategy integrated
target audiences in a strategic way. throughout the product line, e-communications, PR
messaging and marketing materials.

Integrated communications is the strategic use of The perfect combination of all marketing vehicles
relevant communications methods (i.e. PR, that bring the desired results.
marketing, advertising, etc.) to achieve one
common goal.
Advertising and PR groups working hand-in-hand The communication strategy needs to take into
so that the target audience hears about your account and respond to global marketing
product or services in both paid and unpaid media objectives, considering all media that are most
outlets. appropriate.
An informed and multifunctional ability to best Integrated communications is the key to success in
promote a brand, campaign or financial goal. an organisation. Messages between sales,
marketing and PR to provide ROI and increase
sales.
Marketing, PR, advertising, sales all working Kumbayah!!!
together with a common voice and messaging that
reflects the brand.
Ensuring that people follow the same strategy to Single message that provides opportunity for
reach the common goal with their various tools and exposure in many (but selected) communication
possibilities whilst liaising between the departments channels.
to increase the output.
Bringing all disciplines of marketing and PR An overall communications program that is
together to form a cohesive strategy, executed on measured against a unified set of goals, and that is
different fronts but with a consistent message and built on consistent messaging.
in pursuit of the same goal.
A holistic approach to communications that brings Simply, all sides pulling together, sharing ideas and
together inbound and outbound programs, online communicating as a whole for the betterment of the
and offline channels under consistent strategy and business.
messages.
Getting the best out of the component departments Using all professional tools of communication in
to provide the best potential growth of the order to boost a brand or business and achieve
businesses and their clients. individual results that live under the umbrella of one
overall goal.
A unified effort by all players involved in external Integrated communication is a tapestry. Each type
(and internal) communications around a common of communication offers it's own color and texture,
set of goals, executed according to each group's but for the best effect they need to be woven
area of focus, and coordinated to best achieve the together to create the finished product.
common goals.

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About Vocus

About Vocus VOCUS, Vocus, Inc. (NASDAQ: VOCS) is a leading provider of on-demand
software for public relations management, helping organisations of all sizes fundamentally
change the way they communicate with the media and the public, optimise their public relations
efforts and measure their impact. The web-based software addresses the critical functions of
public relations including media relations, news distribution and news monitoring, and provides
the critical capability to monitor and analyse social media conversations from virtually any
source and track results compared to key competitors. Vocus is used by more than 4,000
organisations worldwide and is available in seven languages. Vocus is based in London, UK
with offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.vocus.co.uk

1
Advertising Age, How PR Chiefs Have Shifted Toward Center of Marketing Departments, September 21, 2009:
http://adage.com/cmostrategy/article?article_id=139140
2
Financial Times, Warning over „lost generation‟ of marketers, April 5, 2010
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/14a1d65c-40cd-11df-94c2-00144feabdc0.html
3
Harte of Marketing, The Dichotomy Issue: “Social Media Marketing” vs. Classic Marketing, March 15, 2010:
http://www.theharteofmarketing.com/2010/03/social-media-vs-classical-marketing.html
4
Forbes | Insights, The role of the CMO: Marketing Strategies for 2010, November 2009:
http://www.slideshare.net/anatinge/cmo-survey-results-forbes-insights

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