Integrated Teams: A united approach

For many clients, integration works from the idea out.

For many clients, integration works from the idea out.

Many companies and agencies know how to talk the talk when it comes to integrated marketing. But when it comes to making sure the whole is more than just a sum of the parts - including PR, advertising, and online marketing - many fall flat. Successful companies know there's a big difference between replicating a theme across disciplines and everyone uniting to develop a vision and strategy to help the client succeed. Here are three that walk the walk.

New Jersey Lottery

When the New Jersey Lottery planned to introduce a new game that allowed people to play online, it faced some major communications challenges.

"We helped launch Cyber Slingo, the first online lottery," says Steve Restivo, a VP with MWW Group. "But we had to get the message out [that] this wasn't online gambling. We weren't taking revenue from retailers. You still bought the ticket at a store. But instead of scratch-and-win, it was click-and-win. We had to educate people."

Integrated marketing was essential to making that happen. Ads publicized the new game; PR managed stories, from winner press conferences to recipients of lottery proceeds; and events were set up at cyber cafes for players and the media to try out the new game.

The agencies - MWW for PR, Brushfire Marketing for advertising - meet once a week at lottery headquarters. And that speaks to a dedication on the part of the client to make sure all agencies are working together toward a common goal, says Restivo.

"Face to face is a lot better than a phone call," he adds. "The lottery gets to see what the left and right hands are doing at the same time."

The lottery knows that these agencies are coming together from different backgrounds with different views, says lottery marketing manager Foster Krupa. And it relies on those agencies for exactly what it is they do to help introduce a new product. "Every agency knows what they have to do to support our products," says Krupa. "It's pretty clear cut who has to do what."

But that doesn't mean the disciplines don't communicate. For each initiative, everyone brainstorms as a group, and ideas are traded freely and across disciplines. So in the case of the annual report, which could be handled by MWW but is produced by Brushfire, responsibilities are often dictated by budget allotment.

"Everyone addresses their particular disciplines in the best interest of the lottery," says public information officer MaryAnn Rivell. "The lottery business always comes first, and they are always looking for ways to make the integrated efforts better."

Because parameters are established at the outset, no one feels as though he is stepping on anyone else's toes when discussing ideas outside his discipline, adds Evan Nadler, a VP and account supervisor with Brushfire.

"It helps that everyone involved has worked in this kind of situation before," explains Nadler. "There's a tremendous level of trust. We never feel like they are trying to steal work from us, and vice versa. If they have work that we could maybe do, we don't feel like that's revenue down the drain, if that's the best way to work."

Beyond those weekly client meetings, MWW and Brushfire speak often throughout the week, making sure everyone is on the same page.

"We don't take a cookie-cutter approach," adds Restivo. "We talk often so we can come meet with the lottery with one recommendation. We are very aware of the strengths we each bring, and we each have to shine for the benefit of the client."

Jacuzzi Brands

The maker of kitchen, bath, and spa products recently selected Young & Rubicam Brands as its global AOR, consolidating its marketing needs within one seamless network.

The company needed that marketing discipline, says Jonathan Clark, president of the spa division. Just three years ago, Jacuzzi had 25 different logos and 10 taglines. Having a unified brand has helped the company tremendously, as divisions are no longer fighting each other, and silos between business divisions and marketing disciplines have been broken down.

"We have a best-in-class agency in every discipline," says Debbie Halpern, Jacuzzi Brands' VP of marketing. "We wanted to work with a world-class agency that could offer us everything, and disciplines used to working together."

That includes advertising agency Y&R and its sister PR firm, Burson-Marsteller. Y&R began working with Jacuzzi on brand strategy and positioning in 2002, and over time it just made sense to bring more assets to the table, says Y&R SVP Sally Kennedy. The global team is responsible for making sure that regional teams adhere to the global vision, that Jacuzzi leverages the best assets where needed, and that regional teams aren't stepping on each other's toes.

"With so many companies working on Jacuzzi, we don't worry about which P&L is in charge," says Kennedy. "It's about what's best for the client."

But for the client to win, all the disciplines, and all the regions, must feel that they are part of the process. Because so much time was spent developing strategy, with the regions highly involved, everyone bought into the strategy and instinctively knew what their marching orders were. And they all know that whatever they do plays back to that brand strategy, adds Rebecca Wicks, a director with Burson's corporate and financial practice. Regional involvement is vital to global integrated marketing because, if the message isn't relevant regionally, then it won't resonate globally.

With the global team in San Francisco, and the client based in West Palm Beach, FL, clear communications is critical. All the agencies talk every Monday to discuss any issues or challenges, with all the agencies and the client meeting every six weeks.

The relationships go beyond status calls, encouraging constant idea sharing. If meetings are just status updates, the disciplines remain siloed, says Carrie Holt, senior partner and account director at fellow WPP media planning firm Mediaedge:cia. A mutual respect for each other's disciplines sometimes leads to a blurring of lines over who is responsible for what. But that's good, asserts Holt, as the work becomes less about ownership and more about the big idea.

"As long as everyone is motivated by what the client wants, you can get past any barriers - whether across regions or disciplines," says Wicks. "We promise better communications for our clients. So we also have to do that among ourselves to make it work for the client."

Yahoo HotJobs

Yahoo HotJobs faces competition from Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and BrassRing, which means that HotJobs needs to provide a compelling argument as to why job seekers and job posters alike should visit their site first. Making sure that the audience hears a cohesive, consistent, and compelling message is up to the marketing teams to work together on.

"Ideas are the most important," explains Jason Schlossberg, an SVP with Euro RSCG Magnet's human capital practice. "How you execute that idea comes second."

HotJobs doesn't hold meetings focused on just PR or just advertising, demonstrating the proper mindset to make integrated marketing a reality, adds Schlossberg.

"The first step in integrated marketing is creating a compelling value position," says Marc Karasu, VP of marketing and advertising at HotJobs. "The client needs to be the hub of the process. It might be a bit more work for the client, but it also makes it more seamless, regardless of the message. You get to that message through teamwork, and you look at how everything matches up against the brand."

"We invest the necessary time at the beginning of the year to develop a PR plan that has input from marketing, advertising, business development, sales, and product marketing," adds Lauren Meller, director of corporate communications, adding that everyone's involvement ensures that sales isn't saying one thing to customers, while PR is saying something else to the media. Meller says everyone needs to understand the objectives and measures of success up front.

Darren Paul, managing partner of marketing firm NightAgency, adds that communications must coexist with patience and time for integrated marketing to succeed. As strategies and tactics are developed, the focus is on what will ultimately drive traffic to HotJobs, not on who is responsible for what. Ads for an online campaign Night Agency was preparing were shot at Magnet's offices, Paul points out.

But whatever that strategy is, it must be accepted by all marketing disciplines or they're going to resist it. So collaboration between client, agencies, and the different disciplines is a must. Handing marching orders from one party to another isn't going to get you very far.

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Lost in translation

Despite developments in integrated marketing, there are still issues that come between PR and advertising professionals. Steve Singerman, director of marketing communications at Hill & Knowlton, and Jeetendr Sehdev, brand strategist at sister agency Ogilvy & Mather, aired their differences.

Singerman: The problem has been PR has not been at the table. We've been asked to provide input for a strategy that has already been created. An ad agency will command the research and will get to a position, and then turn it over to PR and ask, "What can you make of it?" It's critical that a PR program comes from a PR position and not what the ad agency comes up with.

Sehdev: When I work with PR people, so much of it is about tactics, tactics, tactics. A lot of PR guys are walking a fine line between great ideas and gimmicky ideas. MTV's PoweR Girls is not helping much.

Singerman: We face a lack of understanding about what PR can do for you. But that is changing. What our counterparts in advertising need to understand is that we need to do our own research and not just work with advertising's research.

Sehdev: The client wants ideas grounded in research and insight, and whatever the situation might be, PR ends up being tactical. In my experience, the ad agency tends to be the leader on campaigns because we're focusing more on strategy than tactics. For PR, the earlier they are brought in, they will be more involved in strategy.

Singerman: I still wish advertising would understand the impact we have on the marketing program. It is too often a disrespected partner. For all the talk, there's still not enough respect. I know advertising thinks they are the masters of the campaign. They have the insight and the research. But that is close to being over.

Sehdev: The 30-second spot has a reduced impact. We are open to new tools. So integrated marketing is most successful when everyone is on board from day one.

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