In today’s dynamic public relations and strategic communications landscape, organisations are investing substantial funds and staff resources to bolster their messaging and strengthen stakeholder engagement and relationships.
Global expenditure on digital communications, PR campaigns and marketing is soaring. By 2025, annual spending is set to reach $4.7 trillion, with more than $1 trillion being spent on digital platforms and tools.
However, the very platforms intended to enhance PR and comms efforts are inadvertently sowing the seeds of inefficiency, according to Waste less. Grow more - a new report by Investis Digital (iDX), based on a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting.
The report urges enterprises to critically evaluate their digital platforms and processes, ditch duplicative assets and disjointed campaigns, and reach audiences with the right message at the right time.
The survey of 250 IT and marketing leaders at companies with 500+ employees found that no fewer than six separate platforms now make up the average martech stack. The most common tech platforms found in martech stacks are customer relationship management (63%), customer data platforms (57%), web analytics (55%), and marketing automation platforms (53%).
Data management platforms (51%), content management systems (46%), and account-based marketing (44%) are also widely used as part of martech stacks.
Of course, taken in isolation, these platforms provide a vital function for communications, advertising, PR, and marketing teams. But the growing number of disparate platforms means tech stacks are becoming bloated, leading to complexity and inefficiency.
Just 17% of respondents believed their various technology components work extremely well together, with 83% of business leaders admitting their digital communications platforms do not work well together.
“This waste significantly impacts end-to-end communications whether PR, IR/corporate comms or if you are working on the next global brand campaign,” says Myles Peacock, global CEO at iDX.
“Businesses produce an abundance of content, and even though in general content created is better informed and more data-led, it is still fragmented against the total end customer experience - this causes duplication and overall disconnection.
The repercussions of disjointed messaging are profound for communications and PR professionals. Inconsistent messaging reaching corporate stakeholders, investors, employees, advocacy companies, and consumers, can significantly affect brand equity and reputation. Critical stakeholders receiving conflicting or disconnected messages creates confusion, erodes trust, and puts businesses under unwanted pressure and scrutiny.
Take the common example of a product launch where the campaign fails to align with its investor relations messaging. This misalignment weakens the impact of the product launch itself and can send mixed signals to investors, potentially undermining their confidence in the company's strategic direction.
So, addressing the integration challenges between technology and communications platforms is crucial for the comms/PR function and vital for maintaining brand equity, enhancing corporate reputation, and fostering meaningful connections with stakeholders.
Lack of governance
Effective governance is a critical issue for PR and comms professionals. With increasing platforms spread across business divisions, many organisations struggle to maintain centralised control over their corporate messaging and brand identity.
According to the survey, fewer than half of the respondents reported having a dedicated, centralised martech/adtech owner responsible for governing and aligning technology with company/sales/marketing objectives.
This disjointed landscape poses significant challenges for in-house communications. While they are responsible for managing all corporate messages, executive communications, and visual assets, the lack of unified access to various tech systems makes it challenging to ensure consistent messaging and tone of voice across all channels.
With limited time and resources, maintaining a cohesive brand identity and effectively controlling narratives are being made more complicated than they need to be.
The consequences of inadequate governance and disjointed tech systems are far-reaching. Not only does it hinder comms professionals' ability to curate a unified brand identity, but it can also lead to longer sales cycles, an inability to support digital transformation efforts, and subpar customer experiences.
It is therefore crucial for PR and comms executives to have a voice in decision-making processes, ensuring technology aligns with the organisation's broader communication strategy and objectives.
Inefficient systems risk reputational and financial damage
“The issue will only get more serious without solid foundations being established, particularly as the industry experiences a meaningful uptake of AI,” adds Peacock. “Marketing and communications only work when they’re seen by the audiences that need to see them, and then acted upon. The rest is pollution.”
The point about pollution is a pertinent one. Because it’s not just creative waste that’s being caused by inefficient technology stacks. Advertising and marketing is an energy-intensive sector with a sizable carbon footprint, contributing to yearly digital waste the equivalent of the global CO2 emissions from the aviation industry.
At a time when businesses are under more scrutiny than ever to align their message around issues such as ESG, and to cut wastage and emissions, increasing emissions because of inefficient systems and inoperable technology puts them at risk of reputational and financial damage.
Clearly, there is a need to make marketing and digital communications platforms work better, to talk to each other, and operate in a complementary fashion.
Asked what benefits they experience when these platforms work together effectively and efficiently, 59% of those surveyed saw an increase in company revenue, 55% said improved customer experiences, and 48% saw a more efficient use of time.
“By harmonising complex platforms and processes to make teams more efficient, creating and measuring content more effectively, and streamlining marketing technology for an overall more profitable outcome, we can retain better control over reputational governance and risk management, while also reducing waste, improving ROI, and enhancing the end customer experience,” concludes Peacock.
“As an industry, we are overdue when it comes to transforming the way organisations think about digital communications.”
By streamlining marketing and digital communications platforms and harmonising complex processes, businesses can achieve more relevant messaging that resonates with their target audience. This unified approach fosters an internal culture around consistent messaging, building trust with every audience.
Furthermore, adopting a common framework enables faster response times during crisis communications as ready-made assets become readily available. With a cohesive structure in place, organisations can optimise their spend, ensuring more efficient allocation of resources and maximising the return on investment across the entire ecosystem.
iDX’s ConnectedContent™ approach has been designed with these precise aims in mind. Combining human intelligence, AI, technology and process, ConnectedContent™ allows businesses to apply structure and governance throughout the digital ecosystem to maximise both its value and its impact. The solution is employed with more than 1,600 corporations, merging communication and digital performance, enabling them to better engage stakeholders, customers, and consumers, ultimately forging deeper connections and driving growth.