I've long since grown tired of the bleating from some communications professionals about how PR is in a difficult place and is being attacked from all sides. So it was with great joy to hear five confident, intelligent, dynamic senior communicators talk about how they are using authentic, integrated communications to drive sales.
Our speakers were:
Paul Wooding, director of Public Relations EMEAI, WD (a Western Digital Company)
Wendy Watherston, head of PR, National Communications, and Paul Thomas, senior manager, digital communications and social media, Grant Thornton UK LLP
Billy Hamilton-Stent, co-founder, Octopus Group
Parker Ward, global head of content, Capgemini.
We all managed to forget about the irrelevant “battle" with advertising and all that clichéd nonsense; the focus was on how stakeholders in a business can successfully co-ordinate their objectives and strategy to optimise the performance of the business. As Wendy Watherston from Grant Thornton said: “Your audience doesn’t hear in silos, so don’t communicate with them in silos!”
Grant Thornton’s Paul Thomas added, that as communicators, to “remember that your audience are normal human beings, they are not there to soak up your message.”
Western Digital’s Paul Wooding talked us through how he had engaged with internal stakeholders to quickly (he’s only been in the job six months) develop an integrated comms strategy that is aligned to the objectives of the business. Less important are product launches, more important are sales targets.
PR plays a vital role in integrated comms. The idea that marketing and PR are at loggerheads misses the point, both skills sets are equally important and having co-ordinated leadership and objectives between the two functions is a good thing.
In the chart below Paul shows the results of recent WD Digital customers’ research, which asked how their purchasing decisions had been influenced. This slide highlights the importance of PR and the advantages of integrated communications:
Here is Paul’s advice on how to align your PR more closely to the business objectives:
- Nothing changes if you stay the same
- Be prepared to make tough decisions
- Don’t be afraid of failure
- Invest in an agile, progressive measurement and reporting platform
- Spend more time with the business
Octopus’s Billy Hamilton-Stent the outlined the synergies between a brand’s reputation and its selling success. Octopus has also recently completed its Tech Heads research which includes this slide suggesting that consumers’ consumption of brand content has plateaued:
The research also suggests that the buying cycles of decision makers have extended:
The extended buying cycle has created a purchasing pinch point that communicators need to consider in their communications strategies, content application, distribution and engagement.
Our final speaker was Capgemini’s Parker Ward who has recently restructured Capgemini’s content operation, he outlined the following lessons he has learnt from this process:
- Align everyone to a singular editorial voice. This will require training, but essentially this means the organisation, both topically and emotionally is speaking as a unified tone.
- Put silo functions that have previously operated separately under a single leadership function, and crucially, a single budget.
Thanks to our event partners Octopus Group
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