Crossing boundaries to build brands

Peter Krainik has a word for those who would separate marketing and PR functions: don’t.

The founder of an organization for chief marketing officers, the CMO Club, Krainik believes CMOs need to align marketing and PR/corporate communications if they want to defend and build their companies’ brands and reputations. The rise of social networks makes it mandatory.

The statistics aren’t encouraging. Only 23% of CMOs have lead responsibility for employee communications on products, services and messaging, according to a survey of 129 CMOs conducted by Hill & Knowlton. Some 66% have lead responsibility for media relations but only 55% have overall responsibility for blogger relations. Most (70%) do not have an active employee-engagement program (read brand ambassadors).

Bird formation 2Krainik thinks CMOs need to address that disconnect.

“Marketing and public relations have overlapped, thanks to the explosive growth of digital communication that created an unprecedented level of transparency between businesses and their audiences,” Krainik writes. “The result is that brand reputation and brand image have become intertwined; the synchronization of the two is more critical than ever.”

Consider us the lucky ones. Most of our clients understand the need for a strategy that encompasses both marketing and communications. So does the agency, which allows copywriters and PR pros to flow across departmental boundaries. Copywriters run projects that include public relations components while PR pros write copy for collateral and advocate for employee ambassador programs. The process is driven by the clients’ marketing and communications functions and supervised by the agency’s account executives.

It’s not a typical arrangement but it works. And that’s what counts.