Nissan's Sproule: Embrace integrated communications

NEW YORK: Simon Sproule, head of marcomms at Nissan Motor Company and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said in his keynote at the PRWeek Conference that the integration of communications and marketing is "inevitable."

NEW YORK: Simon Sproule, head of marcomms at Nissan Motor Company and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said in his opening keynote at the PRWeek Conference on Tuesday that the integration of communications and marketing is "inevitable."

Integrated communications presents an opportunity for the PR profession, which in many cases is still fighting for a role in the C-suite, said Sproule, CVP of global marketing communications at Nissan and marketing communications director at the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

The chief executive is a key driver of integration within companies, Sproule said. CEOs want to communicate a consistent message to stakeholders, who are more connected because of social and digital media, he explained.

"CEOs see the vital importance of having one message, in part driven by the transparency of social media," he added. "What a CEO needs is world-class, connected communications."

Major technological changes are also driving integrated communications, Sproule said. Effective storytelling is crucial in explaining the purpose of innovation and why it matters, he added.

An integrated communications and marketing function has allowed Nissan to move quickly to launch initiatives such as the Nissan Global Media Center, Sproule explained. The auto company hired journalists from top publications to staff the online newsroom, which produces an average of one broadcast story per day in addition to other content.

Integrated communications also helps Nissan better manage crises, such as the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, Sproule said. After the disaster, journalists from global media outlets poured into Tokyo, creating an "urgent need for clear, consistent storytelling," he recalled.

"Integration gave us the edge in crises," Sproule said.

Combining disciplines within companies is not an easy process, but Sproule urged PR professionals to set aside internal politics and embrace integration.

"Seize the moment," he said.

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