How PR Can Strengthen Its Bond With Marketing

marketing and prThe melding of PR and marketing is one of the biggest challenges facing communicators of all stripes.

As C-level managers demand more accountability from their PR departments, communicators increasingly are trying to take their lead from marketing when it comes to measuring activity and demonstrating value. And, unlike even a few years ago, a growing number of PR execs now report to CMOs.

Wide disparities remain between the two disciplines. Marketing is conditioned to showing fairly immediate returns on the investment—PR, not so much. Indeed, it might take years for PR efforts to flow to the top and/or bottom lines.

But the arc of media consumption is bending toward PR. Online consumers have much more interest in having a conversation with brands, the domain of PR. Still, if they’re to succeed in the future, both marketing and PR need to work together.

How marketing and PR are collaborating on digital was discussed Monday during PR News’ Digital PR Conference.

“Communication pros who think like brand marketers will have a better appreciation of the purchase path,” said Torod Neptune, VP and head of corporate communications for Verizon Wireless.

Neptune has made several moves to provide for better collaboration between Verizon Wireless’ PR and marketing teams. They include:

  • Expanding the PR department by hiring executives from digital agencies, as opposed to traditional communications professionals, who are well-versed in all things digital.
  • Training PR execs to speak in a marketing vernacular and learn the terminology that the marketing department uses. “This should be the way we talk about our craft, which is one of the big opportunities” for PR, Neptune said.
  • Encouraging PR execs to be more proactive, rather than reactive, about establishing the corporate narrative and speaking in the brand voice.

Jody Sunna, executive VP for Havas PR North America, stressed that bolstering fundamental communication between marketing and PR is key. She recommended the following tips for better collaboration:

  • Maintain message consistency across all channels and all platforms.
  • Look to bring all marketing, PR and digital team members to the table from the get-go to uncover opportunities and workarounds.
  • Cross-promote and amplify content outside of your channel. Share PR stories with sales teams and across social channels. Share fan feedback from Twitter and Facebook with PR and marketing, and share marketing sales figures with PR.

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1