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Integration: Go Where the Future Is

August 1, 2014

Federation Internationale des Bureaux d’Extraits de Presse, also known as FIBEP, is not exactly a name that rolls off the tip of the tongue. However, in March, it hosted an excellent congress of their members (media monitoring and measurement companies) in Dubai. The subject was integration, both between monitoring and measurement, but more important across marketing and communications.

I had the pleasure of being on a panel at the FIBEP meeting with Yousef Tuqan, chief innovation officer of Leo Burnett Group Of Companies MENA, an advertising agency group. He gave a presentation on why integrated marketing communications is the future of public relations and related disciplines. Here, he expands on those ideas:

What are some key trends in public relations, brand marketing, social media and advertising?

Let me tell you a story. In September 2009, I banged up my Saab. So, I scooted it down to the Saab dealer, and waited for what I expected to be a quick and painless car repair job. Five weeks later, while still waiting for a spare part to arrive, I wrote an angry tweet — “FU Gargash Motors/Saab/GM — still waiting for my car after five weeks.”

The next morning, I received a phone call: “Hello, Mr. Yousef. I’m really sorry about the delay. You’re a very good customer and we don’t want to upset you. We’ve taken the spare part off a showroom car and we’re sticking it on yours. It will be ready tomorrow.”

A few days later, I ran into an acquaintance of mine who worked at GM. When he saw me, he slyly said to me: “So, did you get your car back?”

“How did you know?” I exclaimed.

“It was simple. We heard you,” he said. Someone in their marketing department follows me on Twitter.

What I find most interesting about that story is how because of social media, what was essentially a customer-service problem quickly turned into something else.

And the question since then has not only been how to integrate around these new realities, but also who’s in charge? Is social media the extension of a conversation with our other stakeholders (public relations), is it a brand issue (agency), is it a media channel (media) or is it simply too important to trust any third-party with it (brand)?

How is that kind of experience re-shaping the marketing and communications world?

We find our industry on an arc where everything that was analog has become digital, and everything that is digital has become social and mobile.

The world is changing everywhere around us, and the effects of technology are being felt across our communications industry.

The line between technology and creativity is completely blurred now. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, the CMO will be spending more on technology than the CIO.

We have access to more information, data and consumer insight than ever before — to the point where marketers know what you want before even you do.

We were both on a panel in Dubai that addressed whether the typical PR or ad agency is dying — to be replaced by the integrated firm. What do you think?

CMOs need a holistic approach to engage consumers. And in our field we find that the lack of  integration is also among the top reasons why marketers dismiss an agency and look for a new one, and it is a pivotal factor in selecting a particular agency in a pitch.

But, it is also important to recognize what is and what is not integration. It is not simply using a single color or tagline in everything. Instead, it is the use of a powerful unifying voice and strategy for your brand, executed with discipline across all channels.

As a leader of an advertising company, how do you define integration?

Integration is not force-fitting a message that’s suited for one medium into another (great television commercials rarely translate well to outdoor billboards, which in turn are very different from online banners).

Integration means communicating a consistent identity from message to message, and medium to medium, and (more importantly) delivering consistently on that identity.

It requires not only the identification of a powerful, unifying strategy and compelling voice for your brand, but also the discipline to roll it into every aspect of your organization — from advertising to sales, customer service to customer relationship management programs (and beyond). It’s not for the faint of heart.

Advertisers are going to have to try harder than ever before to capture their audience’s imagination, and it’s going to take courage.

How do you see this affecting PR firms?

All agencies need to be brave and experiment with technologies and products that can’t be billed back to their clients, and brands will have to be brave by challenging social norms, stepping out of their prescribed brand identity and doing things that might completely backfire on them to get noticed.

But, we must remember that although our Internet speeds and our mobile phones and our televisions might change, we, as people, do not.

The reality is that if you want to be the companies of the future, then you have to write the future. You have to identify those trends, make those uncomfortable decisions, and not go to where the future is, but where it’s going to be.

And we will need to integrate.

David B. Rockland, Ph.D. David B. Rockland, Ph.D., is partner/CEO and managing director for the research and change communications businesses at Ketchum. He has held leadership positions in corporate communications and research throughout his career, with extensive global experience in both areas.


Peter Bretschger says:

For 20 years, we at Integrated MarketingWorks, continue to track and attempt to integrated this technology into our client work. We have added to that the new Google concepts of art, copy, code. This article does a wonderful of explaining why we have stuck to our concept while so many agency have been going the niche service delivery route.

August 13, 2014

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