Convergence is accelerating. Add skills, consolidate vendors

The communications organization of the future needs to take shape right now. And that goes beyond a greater commitment to data and analytics, writes PulsePoint Group cofounder and principal Bob Feldman.

Image via Yoel Ben-Avraham / Flickr; Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license
Image via Yoel Ben-Avraham / Flickr; Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

I‘m not sure we’ve reached a tipping point yet, but the trend toward greater integration of communications and marketing is accelerating at an even more rapid clip than just a year or so ago. One arena in which this is having profound consequences is corporate marketing, long a turf on which both communicators and marketers played together.

I’ve had several meetings in just the past month with chief marketing and chief communications officers about the role and scope of corporate marketing and the importance of reputation management. Those were words not often heard from marketers; their language was one of brand and demand. Now their dialogue includes frequent references to reputation and authenticity.

Sound familiar?

One of the most critical implications of this is ensuring the communications organization of the future starts to take shape right now. And that goes beyond a greater commitment to data and analytics — unquestionably a vital first step. It also means having staff with skills sets that include the knowledge and imagination to bring forward all-new creative, compelling ideas.

To get an idea of what I’m describing, check out GE’s sci-fi podcasts or Starbucks’ long-form content push (and partnership with former Washington post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran) that led to the book For Love of Country.

There’s also a convergence of third-party partners evolving that hasn’t often been discussed. Increasingly, companies that do online listening are working for both marketing and comms organizations. High-value consultancies that do market research, message development, language refinement, and core marketing and communications strategy are often talking to and pitching multiple clients within the same corporation.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it suggests a greater need for better coordination. On the work product side, integration and consistency can be quickly realized when the work is choreographed together, and cost containment becomes another strong outcome.

The U.S. economy remains generally strong but I am starting to sense some pullback by companies across multiple sectors. If so, we’ll see more pressure to squeeze costs, reduce headcount, eliminate consultants, and so on. The opportunity to approach those challenges in a coordinated way — as challenging as that may be — provides an opportunity to meet a corporate mandate while at the same time creating a superior work product.

Bob Feldman is cofounder and principal of PulsePoint Group, a digital and management consulting firm. He can be reached at bfeldman@pulsepointgroup.com. His column focuses on management of the corporate communications function.

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