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26 Apr

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One flawed public figure plus one really offensive joke equals one hot mess: the case for Integrated Communications.

April 26, 2013 | By |

We’ve all witnessed those awkward occasions when a major company launches or, worse, leaks an announcement without critical quality controls being met.  The immediate response-a collective “Ouch!  What were they thinking?”  A few weeks ago, one of the world’s largest, most trusted companies, Ford, and its branding firm released cartoons with scantily clad women hog-tied in the trunk of one of their cars, with a grinning former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi looking back from the front seat.  What were they thinking?  They weren’t.  This is a perfect example of a siloed approach to marketing-communications and the case for integrated communications.

So what constitutes the rules of successful communications engagement?  A successful approach to communicating mimics that of any smart business strategy: every stakeholder within an organization has a set of goals and constraints; all must be considered when constructing a strategy and executing on that strategy.  Then, all appropriate communications vehicles should be engaged through a carefully choreographed campaign.  Simply put, the right hand must talk to the left.  Your campaign must consider the needs and constraints of the C-suite, legal and regulatory team, product development group, investor relations department, customer service, HR, internal communications, industry associations and, most importantly, the general public.   The same approach should then be applied to the execution of your campaign.  How, when and through whom will the message be delivered?  Should a disgraced former Prime Minister serve as your spokesperson?  That is a truly bad idea, which no doubt will sully the brand and could have been avoided had the company’s corporate communications and legal departments been involved.

A siloed approach to communications will do if you want your brand debated on the morning news shows, berated on blogs, boycotted by women’s groups, and written about in the Onion.   Serious communications campaigns demand a thoughtful, integrated approach.  Leave the parity to true comedians and your integrated communications to seasoned professionals.  You can’t afford not to.