NEW YORK: To Jeep Bryant, MD and global head of corporate communications for The Bank of New York, salespeople can sometimes act like carnival barkers, while PR practitioners can often sound like Ivory Tower academics. That, in a nut shell, was one of the major cultural differences between the two disciplines discussed by a panel of experts Tuesday at the first of four "Closing the Gap" roundtables sponsored by PRWeek and Peppercom (the next is on PR and procurement).
The panelists - three salespeople and three PR pros - bemoaned the gap and offered up success stories of how it's being bridged.
Charles Smith, director of worldwide PR for Kodak's consumer imaging division, pointed out that sales is focused on the short term, while PR takes a longer view of the company's reputation.
"Does the marketing support your sales or do the sales support your marketing?" asked Anthony Vela, VP of sales for Dreyfus. "If you're not clear on that, you're going to have people going in different directions."
PR people must go into the field with the salespeople and ask them about how they do their jobs, said Peter Suhr, director of product sales and development for ADP.
Lawrence Cohen, senior strategist and team leader for Steelcase, said the office-furniture maker's PR people recently helped the sales force with talking points about why rising rolled-steel prices led it to add a 1% surcharge to its products.
Steve Lampert, senior director of PR at AstraZeneca, discussed the company's new department to support its eight retail business centers around the US with community relations. Lampert said he is already hearing from sales people about improved local recognition.