Last Thursday, I attended the CMO Leadership Forum in the New York City, and it was an enlightening, if not ironic, experience. For starters, the line-up was great: Everyone from the group VP and CMO of Eli Lily to the managing director of Google’s Creative Lab (who was in violation of the New York Athletic Club’s strict “no jeans” policy, haha) was there to talk about the challenges and opportunities presented by new media, measurement, integration and empowered consumer groups.
Almost every member of the audience listened raptly to speakers and panelists as they tried to assuage the fear and loathing sparked by digital media, especially in the context of how it transfers control from the hands of executives to the hands of consumers. “Everyone is in a panic about digital,” said one panelist. “Stop the separation of traditional and digital. It’s ridiculous to talk about it any other way.”
But everyone did talk about it any other way, and they also talked about the complications surrounding measurement, and the need to integrate.
Here’s the ironic part: By 2pm in the afternoon (mind you, this event started at 8am) not one single person mentioned the word “PR.” I couldn’t believe it, especially because every single challenge these senior marketers cited could have easily come verbatim from the mouths of senior PR execs—in fact, they have.
So, I decided to call them out on it. During a Q&A session, I asked why everyone complained and worried about these various business challenges (which I see as opportunities, but I’m just a writer) without ever thinking that they could join forces with their PR peers down the hall and (gasp) work together on digital media, branding and measurement. After all, that’s what PR people have been up to the past few years—at least, that’s what I’ve been hearing.
Anyway, the reaction to my question was very positive: Panelists from that point on incorporated PR into their discussions, and everyone kept a running tally. Plus, each time the word “PR” was uttered, whoever said it would look to me for a nod of approval.
Talk about good PR.
By Courtney Barnes