Public Relations Tactics

Integration: A Look Ahead to 2015

December 1, 2014

[blend images/corbis]
[blend images/corbis]

A hot topic these days is integration. But what exactly does this mean? At the FIBEP Congress in Dubai this past March, there seemed to be two definitions: how media monitoring and media measurement are blurring, and how public relations and advertising are no longer disparate functions. In fact, many companies have long used the term “integrated marketing” to define all marketing disciplines, such as advertising, public relations and direct marketing, around one organizing principle or idea.

But while I think that the discussion around integration will continue in 2015 and beyond, here are some aspects for your consideration right now:

• The right and the left brain merge:

We often have the quantitative people in one room and the creative people in another. The demand for data-driven insights is at an all-time high, and the best idea wins despite where it comes from, which is why we can no longer segregate these types of thinkers.

• The emotional and the intellectual:

Related to the two sides of the brain working together is the idea that you can’t sell something without reaching the consumer or employee on both an intellectual and emotional level. People don’t buy things solely based on the product or service’s tangible characteristics. It also has to resonate emotionally.

After blending the emotional and the intellectual, we then need to look at measurement differently. It can’t be just about numbers; it has to also be about the “why,” or the qualitative aspects of those quantitative results. We have to sit down with those audiences and really understand what makes them tick.

• Big data and smart analytics:

Heard enough about big data? I have. But what may not be as apparent is how the integration of big data and analytics adds predictive power to measurement.

For example, it tells you which messages will move someone from consideration to purchase, or purchase to recommendation. And big data with analytics applied to sales data over time and/or across markets can tell you which channels are working and which are not.

Achieving transparency

Many say that the communications world of 2015 will deliver the best creative content through the PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned) spectrum of channels. I tend to think of this as a fundamental truth. However, when you apply big data and analytics to understanding channel and message effectiveness, you get transparency.

And with this knowledge comes the debunking of a myth that people in public relations really like — that earned media is more valuable than paid media because of an implied credibility.

However, with big data and analytics, we can say with assurance which is more valuable and which is more credible. In client projects that I have been involved with, ranging from chemical companies to non-profits, we find this myth is, in fact, a myth.

Sometimes earned media was more valuable, and sometimes it was not. Most often, however, it is the channels, and by this, I mean the full PESO spectrum, working in sync that creates the best results — another example of the integration we face in the future.

Is all of this exciting or a great pain in the neck? Probably both. It was easier to live in our little PR world by ourselves. But this won’t work for much longer, even if it works now.

So, what does this add up to? We all probably need to make some new friends. Bring in the quants and the quals, the creatives and the geeks, the media buyers and the media pitchers. Let’s have some fun and learn a few new things in 2015.

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.

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