PR Can Be the CMO’s Choice; We Just Need to Tell Them How

February 25, 2013

CMO-SupermanThere was good news and bad news for PR at a recent all-day session hosted by the Argyle Executive Forum.

The event hosted Chief Marketing Officers from across a wide variety of industries, who shared best practices and innovative marketing strategies across topics ranging from digital marketing to how to create a human brand and everything in between. However, one consistent theme colored the entire day: Regardless of industry, each CMO who spoke was ultimately focused on one thing for their brand – creating a memorable and shareable experience that yields loyal and vocal brand advocates.

First, the good news: The PR industry is uniquely suited to answer this challenge. We are in the business of creating experiences that get noticed. We know how to find the right ambassadors that will echo and spread word of that great experience, and we are experts in creating engaging content that is shareable and newsworthy.

And now, the bad news: Many CMOs do not seem to realize that PR can be their biggest ally in their quest.

In fact, as each CMO spoke, we heard about great TV spots and paid digital media that they were developing for their brands. However, they also addressed challenges and opportunities where we can begin to illustrate the power of PR for the CMO. Reading between the lines of the discussion, below are three simple ideas to help us begin to reframe our value to these critical decision makers:

1.) Reframe how we speak about a “campaign”: Several CMOs mentioned that the idea of a “campaign” no longer works for them because it implies a stop and start. They need consistency and sustainability. The consumer never turns off, so their brand can never turn off. As PR professionals, we are uniquely suited to address how brand engagement campaigns are not moments in time, but rather a sustained-brand building approach that creates efficiencies with all marketing disciplines. In fact, PR can be the glue that creates a sustained campaign while paid media is turned on and off as needed.

2.) Demonstrate the Power of Paid and Earned Media: There should not be a competition between paid or earned media. In fact, they should work together to lift one another and help extend the reach of the brand experience. PR can be the discipline that best demonstrates how paid and earned work together to create bigger brand exposure with a more efficient spend, thereby raising the ultimate ROI. This would be music to the CMOs’ ears.

3.) Lay Claim to the Being THE Social Discipline: Let’s face it, PR was the “social” discipline before there was social media. PR has always helped brands create and maintain relationships with consumers. Social media is a newer channel to accomplish this, but the ability to create a strategic approach to relationship-building and social engagement still lies with PR. We do this every day, regardless of the communication channel or platform. Let’s own it.

Argyle’s 2013 Chief Marketing Office Leadership Forum spotlighted a great opportunity for all of us in the PR industry to play a very central role in the overall marketing function. Now it’s up to us to go seize it.

Carlisle Campbell is a Vice President, Group Manager at Ketchum DC working in the Brand practice. Carlisle has extensive experience building consumer facing brand engagement campaigns. He has worked on clients including Clorox, DoubleTree by Hilton and Hershey’s to name a few. He also has particular expertise in health and wellness marketing.