Marketers and PR People Equally in Need of Measurement, Xanax

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

  • Sally Hodge

    Integration is one of those issues that everyone loves to talk about, but nobody seems to be able to DO anything about, whether it’s finding ways to bridge the chasm between new and traditional media or bringing together the best thinking and approaches of marketers and PR folks.

    It’s ironic, indeed, that we’re all trying to figure out how to adjust to a changing world from the relative isolation of our own little silos. Imagine the possibilities if we truly joined forces, and did more than pay lip service to the idea of common ground.

  • Tim Marklein

    Amen, Courtney! I have been in an amazing number of agency, client and industry meetings over the past year where everyone is talking about PR — but doesn’t even realize it. It’s a testament to the power of what we do. It’s also a challenge that we need to collectively stand up, advocate and claim our mantle as a PR industry — before other functions steal away our moment like they did with “branding.”