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The business impact of aligning marketing and PR

Bridging the Gap Illustration

The divide between communications roles and marketing is nothing new. For decades, the two factions have often been at odds, and this can impact an organization’s ability to connect with customers. While comms pros focus on getting earned media coverage for the brand, marketing professionals set their sights on building a connection through paid and owned media campaigns. The two groups battle for budget, and sometimes have goals that run counter to one another.

But is that chasm shrinking? Are these two starting to learn how to work together? Cision’s 2018 Global Comms Report: Challenges and Trends indicates that the relationship between the two sides continues to  improve. Last year, 81% of respondents said that comms and marketing work well together in their organization. In this year’s report, that number is up to 87%. While not a huge bump, it does show movement in the right direction.

Content aligns comms and marketing

In truth, the lines between PR and marketing are blurring more each year. Brands are sharing media mentions and press releases on social media. Comms pros are pitching bloggers and influencers. And everyone cares about metrics.

One common denominator?


Whether it’s branded content purchased as advertising on Facebook, an interview with the company’s CEO published on another site, or weekly tips sent to email subscribers, content is the lifeblood of everything both PR and marketing professionals do.

Now that the two halves of the whole realize they don’t need to work in opposition to each other, they can be more aligned in terms of content creation, distribution, and promotion.

Shared goals are more attainable

As overall brand objectives become more cohesive, it becomes more intuitive for comms and marketing teams to work together rather than separately. This starts with consistent and constant communication between departments. Separate meetings simply aren’t effective. Instead, having both marketing and public relations staff in the same room helps them understand each other’s objectives as well as frustrations.

Let’s say the communications team has a goal of getting 2,000 clicks on a link in a recently published press release. If the marketing team is aware of that goal, it can work to drive those clicks by promoting the press release through social media, the company blog, and email.

Renaissance men and women make things work

Even 10 years ago, the majority of communications or marketing employees had educational and professional backgrounds in a silo. Marketing staff knew how to create paid and email campaigns, and comms pros were experts at creating articles for earned, press releases, and media pitches.

But that’s changing, both in higher education as well as the workplace. University programs now cross-pollinate marketing and communications coursework. A student might take a course in media relations one semester and web design the next. He or she might intern first at a newspaper and then a marketing agency.

And as brands have quickly realized they can’t focus on just marketing or PR, they’ve expanded job descriptions to include tasks on both sides of the fence. Managers have been forced to ramp up in areas in which they might not otherwise have been experts just to stay relevant (not to mention hirable).

All in all, this is a good thing. It makes today’s professionals more well rounded and adaptable, able to take on new communications or marketing tasks in an ever-changing landscape.

Today’s communications and marketing software platforms reflect this new hybridization as well. Rather than having separate tools to measure earned media and social media, tools such as Cision Comms Cloud are packing a more powerful punch by providing earned media management for every aspect of marketing and PR.

Breaking out of the silos

In a large corporation years ago, PR and marketing might have reported to two different leaders. Today, these departments are commonly combined into one. When comms and marketing report to the same boss, that individual has a better grasp of what’s going on with both sides and can take strategy in the appropriate direction.

This goes beyond just communications and marketing. These employees might work with sales reps to develop promotions, accounting to build the marketing budget, or even send communications to the entire company to get support for a particular campaign. Breaking out of silos lets everyone accomplish more.

But we’re not there yet

Many organizations still struggle to prove the value of communications. This is evident when looking at how companies allocate their marketing and communications spend. Spending on paid media ads reached $628 billion this year, and projections show that budgets for digital marketing software will hit $32 billion for 2018.

As for tools to support PR goals? A measly $3.5 billion, indicating that communications is still working to command the respect it deserves, especially as a piece of the pie budget wise.

In the end, it’s not about marketing or communications. It’s about providing value to the customers and ensuring that the interactions they have with the brand are so positive that they continue the relationship. It’s that unique relationship with each customer – regardless of who connects the dots – that has the biggest impact long term.

When communications and marketing teams are aligned, it’s so much easier to do just that.

Download the Cision PRWeek 2018 Global Comms Report here.


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