There have always been very defined lines between PR and marketing — each camp clear on their role within the business, their relationship with the media and stakeholders and which activities they were responsible for. Then the new kid on the block arrived and obliterated those lines. The new kid on the block? I’m talking about social media. Although not the sole driver for a more integrated approach to communications, over the last decade all three disciplines have evolved in concert with one another, providing a new world of opportunity for brands to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace.
Integrated marketing is certainly nothing new, but increasingly it is becoming more important for businesses to get right.
This sentiment was reflected in the findings of our recent research — The Secrets of Tech Growth — where we spoke to leaders from fast-growth tech firms about how they achieved that growth, what challenges they overcame (and continue to overcome) and what role tech PR and integrated marketing played in all of that.
Joined up for success
Unsurprisingly, both disciplines had crucial roles to play, at different times in a company’s journey to success, separately, and as part of integrated campaigns. With social media being a key ingredient too — something my colleague Emma Walker talks about in her article: Social media: not just the garnish in the sustainable business growth cocktail.
So apart from the fact that social media has changed the comms landscape, why is integrated marketing taking such a focus today, especially when it comes to building B2B businesses and sustaining growth?
There are three factors that make integrated marketing so attractive: budget, objectives and audiences.
Make the most out of your budget
Integrated campaigns help you get the most out of your budgets and maximise your return on investment. For growing companies this is especially important because not all of them have significant funding behind them. Overall, you can re-use and re-purpose your content and design assets across streams, and use PR or earned elements to set the stage for wider marketing efforts when it comes to aspects like nurturing leads. Optimising content across disciplines and channels makes this approach a much more cost-effective model.
Hit multiple targets
An integrated approach to campaigning also means that you can reach more than one goal. Why is this important? Because all businesses are different and have varied goals that communication assets will help them achieve. Just like the lines are blurred between disciplines, these goals often overlap and aren’t necessarily always effective when viewed in isolation. So whether you’re creating awareness, building trust, lead generation, general education or making your business look attractive for investors, combining PR, marketing and social elements enables you to hit those objectives through the use of targeted, audience-centric content and relevant, consistent messaging. From one central theme or idea, you can generate different content assets that can be leveraged across channels and fulfil your different objectives.
Reach all your audiences
This ties in to the third element, which is audiences. Just as your campaigns can have multiple objectives, your business is likely to want to reach multiple audiences. In addition, not all of your target audiences will engage with your brand and its content in the same way on the same platform.
Integrated campaigns ensure that you can reach not only your different audiences, but the right personas within them by providing comms through a channel (or combination of channels) that most appeals to them, be it thought leadership through media, infographics and videos delivered by social media, or whitepapers and blogs via email or content marketing efforts.
Where to start
Taking an integrated approach to your next campaign needn’t be challenging. Before you start make sure you’re clear on your objectives for the campaign. Then make sure these objectives are aligned to the wider goals of the business. This not only helps you create the right tone and messaging for maximum impact, but can also help secure budget and buy-in from senior management or the board when you’re looking to expand or start new projects. In addition, make sure you understand your audience so that you can develop personas to guide your content development and choose the right channels that will get the right message to the right audience. Finally, evaluate and measure your communications campaign throughout the lifecycle of the activity, not just at the end. This will help you make changes as you go in order to reach your objectives and will also help in demonstrating the efficacy of the campaign and ROI.