In a recent blog post, Beth Harte commented that social media gives us “a window into what our customers are really thinking, where they interact, how to engage with them, etc.”
The question I’ve been absorbed with this week is … who owns that window?
Social media is a tool we can use for marketing, public relations, customer service, sales, networking, conversation and a host of other functions.
For some companies, finding a common ground on strategy, tone and approach between all of these areas is simply a matter of compromise and consolidation.
In most cases though, this isn’t the case.
Survey Says …
My colleague, Kary Delaria, and I are currently working with Vocus on a white paper reviewing the results of a recent survey they administered to nearly 1,000 marketing and PR professionals on the topic of integrated communications. (We’ll be presenting the results in a free webinar next week.)
Social media was a common theme running through the survey data.
It was often cited as the impetus for companies to revisit integration strategies. But, just as equally, it was also cited as the source of some of the biggest turf battles that are preventing integration from being fully possible.
While I imagine these battles are playing out among many departments, this particular study focused on one that may be perhaps the most gnarly: the struggle for ownership between marketing and PR.
Not surprisingly, one of the key findings in this study is that social media is blurring the lines between marketing and PR.
Personally, I think this is a great thing. I love that social media can serve as a “common denominator” for both marketing and PR objectives.
But, apparently not everyone is such a fan of this idea.
Now play nice, you two.
While the big picture data in the Vocus survey was pretty straightforward, it was in the responses to the open-ended questions in the survey where some of those turf battle claws started coming out.
The big surprise to me? How much sharper they were on the PR side than the marketing side.
When it came to their views on marketing, there was an underlying tone of exasperation, frustration and even condescension in many of the PR responses. For instance,
- “Marketing thinks everything a company does is ‘newsworthy’ when it’s not.”
- “Whereas I believe PR people understand how marketing works, for the most part, I have found the opposite to be true.”
- “PR is often used when marketing is unable or unwilling to support either due to resources or timelines.”
- “Integration shouldn’t be allowed to reshape how PR functions based on others limited understanding of what it is/can do; but should allow it to enhance marketing efforts in its own way.”
- I believe they should ultimately role up to the same executive, however you need a senior PR person to help refine messages. Otherwise you end up sending messages to the press that are too ‘salesy’ or marketing.”
- “PR and Marketing should work together, but PR should report to the top person of the organization so it is not encumbered with other corporate agendas, which might make it counterproductive.”
- “PR does more than marketing – it should be integrated as needed with one reporting line for specific programs/projects dependent on the objective.”
- “Companies that place their Public Relations functions under the Marketing department are missing the boat in terms of building a relationship with customers and potential customers.”
I mean, seriously … whoa.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of the respondents were in support of better integrating marketing and PR functions. Also, there were undeniably a few snarky marketers in the mix that had their own, “over my dead body,” spin on the topic.
However, the number and flavor of these PR responses is of note … and I think, of concern.
Social media is quickly becoming the lifeblood that runs through the veins of both of marketing and PR, whether we want it to or not.
As one respondent said, marketing and PR “Are two peas in a pod … both are an important part of any communications program.”
While two peas they may be, apparently we’ve still got some work to do before everyone is willing to jump into the same pod.
For more on this topic, register for the Vocus webinar on April 29 and receive the complete research report and analysis.