Integrating Communications and Marketing: The Path to Digital Transformation


When you think of business transformation, it’s not often that corporate communications and marketing comes to mind. But perhaps it should.

For the past nine months, I’ve been investigating the trend of integration in the corporate communications and marketing fields for a newly published report from the The Conference Board and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR). What I came away with is the fact that the unification of these two functions can lead to dramatic shifts in business strategy. Together they elevate the importance of data collection, sharing, analysis, and putting the company on the path to digital transformation.

Please download the report: “Unlocking the Value of Integrated Corporate Communications and Marketing.” The research is based on nearly 25 interviews with industry thought leaders, including senior marketing and communications executives. Case studies featured in the report include Southwest Airlines, MasterCard, Coca-Cola Asia Pacific, SAP, Cisco, Target, HP, and others.

Both the communications and marketing functions have extensive experience with technologies that deliver data, such as for social media, and with interpreting that data and translating it into critical insights. When integrated, the two functions are better positioned to make the case to the C-suite for a digital, data-driven approach to business strategy, drawing on the technologies and tools that have typically fallen under their areas.

There are, of course, other benefits to integration that are slightly less “transformational”—a little more grounded, perhaps. Here they are:

  • Integrated corporate communications and marketing can create a customer-centric culture. In many ways, integrated corporate communications and marketing is about asking customers their preferences on when and how to communicate with them. By having the two functions work together, companies can glean better insights from long-term engagement on social media. They can then feed that information back into other parts of the company, such as product and service innovation, and respond with meaningful content that sparks interest and continues engagement.
  • Integrated corporate communications and marketing can create an employee-centric culture. Turning employees from “informed” or “engaged” to “advocate” is the holy grail for companies, according to one executive interviewed for the study. The potential for employee advocacy to contribute to company growth is huge, because stakeholders trust messages that come from employees more than messages that come from companies.
  • As defenders of corporate reputation, integrated corporate communicators and marketers have an important role in building trust by helping infuse the business with purpose. Companies exhibit transparency and authenticity by, among other things, striving to foster a positive relationship with the environment, their communities, and their stakeholders. Corporate social responsibility initiatives have often fallen under the auspices of corporate communications. But, as companies increasingly see the benefits of underpinning business strategy with purpose, corporate communications and marketing have begun to work together to ensure that company brands, strategies, operations, and messages are synonymous with ethical business. This in turn can accelerate growth in an era in which customers and employees reward responsible companies.
  • Integrating corporate communications and marketing improves agility and efficiency. Integration can lay a foundation for greater agility because it helps companies find and solve problems faster by removing barriers to information flows and decision-making. Showcasing this potential then puts the company on a path to digital transformation, where this speed and efficiency can be magnified.
  • Integrated corporate communications and marketing creates a consistent message. According to a report by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick, “the best-run brands in the world behave in a consistent way; they stand for one thing or a few things and consistently communicate that globally.”
  • Creating and unleashing better stories can be a powerful benefit of integration. Today, companies are not only selling a product or service, but a brand that is underpinned by its values—values that are more effectively disseminated by stories. Storytelling can engage customers, employees, and other stakeholders with content that sends a uniform message that’s tailored to specific audiences.
  • Integrated corporate communications and marketing helps companies align goals, metrics, and budgets. If one consistent strategy for corporate communications and marketing is coming from one leader at the top, then the two functions share goals and understand how to deploy resources to reach their audience, as well as to establish the right metrics to measure progress.

I hope you enjoy the report and please feel free to share your thoughts about it. Visit this page for more information. ∞

(This article is a reprint of a post on The Society for New Communications Research Blog.)

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