Can CMOs Rescue the Broken Alignment with Marketing and PR?

petekrainik By Pete Krainik
founder, The CMO Club

One of the most common challenges discussed at our regular Club dinners is the changing approach and difficulty in effective PR and Corporate Communications vs. a few years ago. The explosion of social networks, active brand advocates (and detractors), plus the shift to influential bloggers from traditional media outlets, is causing uncertainty and anxiety among many company CMOs.

We recently surveyed 129 CMOs on this subject, and the results present a surprising misalignment between Marketing and PR/Corporate Communications.

  • More than half (52%) of the CMOs surveyed do not feel their companies’ marketing and corporate communications are fully aligned
  • The same number (52%) have ultimate responsibility for crisis/issues management
  • Only 30% have an active employee engagement program (brand ambassadors)
  • Only 23% have lead responsibility for employee communications on products, services and messaging
  • Only 55% have overall responsibility for blogger relations, and only 66% have lead responsibility for media relations
  • Of those companies that said they were “aligned”, only 66% had joint objectives, metrics and reward programs in place

So what’s wrong with this picture? First, it’s confusing. Functional ‘ownership’ is unclear and so is alignment. But what the survey – and our regular club conversations – suggest is that the following factors are key drivers of change:

Advertising campaigns alone no longer drive brand image and reputation
Marketing and public relations have overlapped, thanks to the explosive growth of digital communication that created an unprecedented degree of transparency between businesses and their audiences. The result is that brand reputation and brand image have become intertwined; and the synchronization of the two is more critical than ever. Unfortunately many companies are missing the mark.


Alignment is critical but you have to have something to align around

The days of internal banner waving and motivational videos around focusing on the customer have long gone. The speed of change and speed to customer engagement do not align with quarterly “employee campaigns”. The most important element in ensuring alignment between PR/Corporate communications and Marketing is what core belief or value you want to align around. Nothing is more critical for alignment success, period.

PR and corporate communications is not about media and bloggers, it’s about product/service, customer service and responsiveness excellence
Knowing all the right influencers and advocates are important for your success and that has not changed. The new world of transparency, however, requires that your brand is “air tight” when it comes to delivering on that promise to your customers. If your service, delivery, and products are viewed as a problem, knowing who to engage with will not help you. CMOs need to take a lead role in delivery of all customer touch points to be successful.

If alignment really matters, then joint objectives, reviews and performance measures on alignment must matter
What objectives and metrics do you have in place around the alignment of Marketing with PR/Corporate Communications? How often do the groups meet and review weekly plans, customer feedback, what people are saying, etc.? How many quarterly plans are in place with cross team ownership between marketing and corporate communications? These sound basic but are critical for success.

In summary
CMOs must a) lead companywide agreement on what the brand stands for, b) engage with all employees and stakeholders on this alignment and how the brand will differentiate itself through customer engagement and c) set the right objectives, metrics and rewards programs, if they are to have a chance of rescuing the misalignment within their companies between Marketing and PR.

Link to Survey

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