Thursday, November 04, 2010

Does PR have the CMO’s Ear?

Our guest blogger today is Laney Cohen, who is a Senior Account Executive at Makovsky + Company in our health group.


Money seems scarce—for infrastructure investment, purchasing homes and building brands. The new chief marketing officer (CMO) is changing the course of marketing and, most certainly, where money is directed. Earlier this month, an Ad Age article pointed out the new environment will “force marketers to reassess every practice and reset their approaches.”

Above anything else this article screams, “show me that my money is spent wisely.”

Why? Because it's difficult for the leadership team to connect the budgets for varied marketing-mix elements (public relations and advertising included) to results, it's relatively easy to understand why they might approach marketing and communications with reduction demands and the mandate to do more with less.

Now, public relations and advertising are not just competing with each other for a piece of the budget pie, but for THE budget. The lines of responsibility for creating content may appear (to clients) to be blurry. Agencies with communications labels are now encroaching on each other’s turf. The end result is that they are showing their sharp elbows at the expense of the clients’ endpoints.

Those agencies and personalities best able to chart the value, analyze program outcomes, and tap other skills and allied organizations will be best positioned to have the CMO’s ear.

Historically, communication companies have been measured in terms of activity volume. Sales, marketing, hiring and pricing decisions were made based on how many units you sold and needed to sell. And there appeared to be a fairly straight line between marketing, sales and units sold.

For CMOs it is no longer optional to factor longstanding relationship ties and “the way things were” into the budget metrics. Right now, public relations has the biggest opportunity to grab a larger piece of the resource pie because its heritage is in content and dialogue. CMOs understand that for a brand to succeed, they need to be a part of the stakeholder conversation—where content and conversation converge and opinions align.

Christian McMahan, Heineken CMO, commented at the recent Council of PR Firms Critical Issues Forum: “78% of people trust their peers, only 14% trust the company. “ Noting it is no longer just about talking to your audience; it’s enabling a two-way dialogue.

With the CMO acknowledging the change in how people connect with each other and brands, public relations is now faced with stepping up to the plate. The new set of outcomes includes measuring conversations and not just clicks and scoring engagement and not just eyeballs.

In demonstrating movement in perceptions, key-audience engagement, conversation stimulated and attitudes changed, public relations is in a prime position to shift the budget balance in its favor and earn an equal seat at the table where resources are sliced.

Technorati Tags: CMO, Ad Age,advertising, public relations, business, communications, Makovsky

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