Explainer: A Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications

A graphic of question marks provides the background art for our PRNEWS Explainer series which today asks what is an audience?

[Editor’s Note: Even experienced PR professionals need a refresher on the basics periodically, as well as insight about newer concepts. Whether it’s how to become a better writer or a review of PR ethics, we aim to provide you with content about a variety of topics and issues. Hence, our Explainer series.

Previous posts looked at defining an audience, Barcelona Principles, the Metaverse, social conversation platforms, off the record and sonic branding. Today we explain the phrase "integrated marketing communications" and how the approach is used.

If there are topics you’d like to see discussed in this series, please let us know.]

What is integrated marketing communications (IMC)?

IMC, also referred to as integrated marketing or integrated marketing communications, is a holistic approach to communication in which unified messages are shared across multiple channels. This means that every touchpoint a consumer encounters shares the same core messaging, providing a consistent customer experience in relation to your brand. Like multichannel marketing, IMC utilizes various mediums to communicate a message; rather than sharing multiple messages, however, IMC campaigns are uniform across all channels, including traditional and digital media.

Because marketing communications is so complex, integrated marketing rarely occurs without strategic planning. The investment, however, is worth it.

Why should you integrate your marketing communication efforts?

Why should you integrate your marketing efforts? There are many benefits to integrated marketing communications. Research has found that integrated campaigns (across four or more channels) outperform single or dual-platform campaigns by 300 percent. Considering the average person encounters between 6,000 and 10,000 advertisements every single day, and most of this content is not retained, it is no surprise that integrated campaigns increase the odds of leaving a lasting impression, thereby building brand recognition and increasing the consumer’s trust.

IMC campaigns can also decrease the overall costs associated with marketing. Since similar content will be shared across channels, it can be repurposed for different situations.

How to Integrate Your Efforts

Consider, for example, a brand that employs advertising, public relations and social media tactics. The representatives of the brand, including internal personnel and external agencies, must communicate to ensure consistency among initiatives.

To ensure that a campaign is integrated, remember the 4 C’s: Coherence, Consistency, Continuity and Complementary.


Do the components of your campaigns have the same look and feel? Are you incorporating your brand’s color scheme, logos, brand voice, slogan and values when constructing your campaign?

Pro Tip: Identifying a core message for your campaign is one way to ensure consistency. This does not mean that the copy in every material must be exactly the same, but it does mean that every touchpoint should convey the same idea.


Does your campaign flow? If someone saw a standalone advertisement from this campaign, would they recognize it?

For example, if you’re sharing multiple posts across social media platforms, you may use a hashtag to link them together. Similarly, if you’re creating print and digital ads, you may choose to use the same tagline.


Do the various parts of your campaign share the same message? If a consumer viewed one of your ads online versus out-of-house versus in print, would they feel the same way?

Pro Tip: Test, test, test! Ideally, you should test the components of your campaign with your target audience to ensure consistency. If you do not have the budget for additional market research, share the campaign with friends, family or colleagues who did not work on the campaign to see if the core message is identifiable, and the campaign has a tangible feel.


Do the various components of your campaign complement each other? If you take a step back and review your campaign as a whole, does it work? Is there a bigger picture that becomes apparent as you connect the different parts?


Thinking holistically about your marketing and communication efforts, and how they transfer from ads to socials to press releases to events and even collateral, means the person on the receiving end of your message will find your brand more memorable.

Kayla Hannemann is an account coordinator at Impact PR & Communications.