Any communications professional knows that the number of channels for posting, distributing and promoting news have grown exponentially. This abundance of platforms provides both an opportunity and a challenge for communicators. In order to capture target audiences across multiple platforms and ensure consistency, an integrated campaign is essential.
What does an ‘integrated campaign’ entail?
For starters, we need to define “integrated marketing communications.” Though marketing is in the name, it is not exclusive to marketing. An integrated marketing communications strategy is the marriage of public relations, marketing and advertising. Historically, organizations siloed each of these practices — viewing them as independent of one another, despite each working toward the same objective. Today’s dynamic environment calls for the need to blend the three in order to maximize brand awareness, and therefore, returns. An integrated campaign goes beyond PR initiatives such as promoting company news and conducting media outreach; beyond marketing content such as blogs, website development and social media posts; and beyond advertising materials such as flyers and brochures.
All collateral and initiatives must be shared with the greater communications team. A PR tactic may include repurposing marketing-based content for media-facing purposes, and marketing may include promoting media relations success, such as news coverage, across multiple channels.
For instance, let’s say your company’s spokesperson is a thought leader in financial literacy and your executive has been quoted in media outlets speaking on the topic. Your communications team then should create a blog series using this subject matter, repurposing it via video tutorials, podcasts, social media tips and email marketing blasts. You’ve now taken one original topic and turned it into six unique pieces of content. The kicker, each piece of content is being disseminated to a different audience — all communicating one message, aligned with the company’s greater strategic marketing communications plan.
Integrated campaigns don’t stop at ensuring a consistent message across PR and marketing efforts alone. They must extend to incorporate additional operational roles within the organization, such as business development, sales and advertising.
If the communication strategy isn’t consistent and doesn’t integrat each of those operational areas, then the greater strategy is likely to be disjointed. Why does this matter? For starters, this lack of collaboration is costly, as each of the separate departments or outsourced agencies are ‘”recreating the wheel.” Further, lack of consistency lessens the overal impact of these initiatives on your target audiences. Whether your targeting businesses or consumers, the more they see a message across various mediums, the greater the likelihood the message will resonate with them. By integrating all of the communications efforts into one overarching strategy, it helps to ensure each department has a better understanding of what the company is trying to achieve from a branding perspective. It ensures strategies and company goals are achieved.
Executing an integrated campaign requires accuracy and precision, as aligning multiple departments is not an easy task. However, teams that successfully collaborate across departments such as PR, marketing and advertising, which includes leveraging repurposed content, will see this consistency pay off in the long run — they will generate more customers and enhance customer loyalty, thus increasing ROI.