Jun 05

PR Pros may have access to C-suite, but their digital message isn’t getting through

USC’s Annenberg School for Communication’s GAP V survey is a timely and helpful measurementCsuite_2
substantiating PR’s rising importance within the corporate infrastructure. The main findings show that 64 percent of the 520 senior corporate communications respondents report directly to the C-suite. As a result, they are more likely to have more resources than those who don’t. OK, so far, so good.

Jerry Swerling, who heads the school’s PR studies program, says the question is no longer whether or not PR has a seat at the table, but what to do with it. No argument with that point either.

But, here’s where the Annenberg findings fall short. We’ve participated in two recent (and fairly extensive) surveys of PR pros. Both showed a huge ‘digital’ gap between the PR/communications function and the C-suite. In fact, PR pros are incredibly frustrated about the C-suite’s lack of understanding and support of digital. Respondents to our survey overwhelmingly ‘get’ digital’s importance, but cannot get the C-suite to get it. As a result, PR executives report little support to properly their fund digital initiatives.

I’m not suggesting there’s a gap in the Annenberg Gap V survey findings, but I’d love to see next year’s Gap VI probe more deeply into what I see as one of the biggest, and least well understood, pain points facing PR pros today.

May 01

Cable executives struggle with same C-suite fears of digital

I was fortunate to be among the panelists in a recent CableFAX webinar. The subject was digitalCf
communications and, as was the case with my recent PR News webinar, the topics ranged from best practices and budget spends to lessons learned and ‘digital ownership’ within the organization.

CableFAX leveraged the webinar to release the findings of an industry survey on the subject. Interestingly enough, the results were almost identical to the one we’d conducted six weeks earlier with PR News (note: our sampling of 500 marketing communications respondents represented all sorts of corporations, agencies and non-profits. CableFAX’s reflected opinions from within the cable industry).

CableFAX respondents said digital was still a relatively small part of their overall PR budget (56 percent said it accounted for between 11 and 25 percent of the total). Less than one-quarter expected the budget to increase slightly in the next year. The remainder saw little or no budget increase whatsoever for digital.

That said, forty-four percent of respondents believe their digital efforts to date have been somewhat or moderately successful. And, a whopping 58 percent identified a ‘lack of funds’ as the number one hurdle to advancing digital’s use within their organization.

Continue reading

Apr 23

Don’t look back. Someone may be gaining

A recent PR News-Peppercom survey of 500 communicators showed that two-thirds were concerned theyLooking
were parallel to, or behind, their competitors when it came to digital communications.

The finding is scary in a number of ways. It tells me that communicators are either unable to convince their management to make a strategic digital spend or they simply don’t care. While the latter statement may sound glib and superficial, it may also be true. I suspect there’s more than one Fortune 500 marketing executive who simply doesn’t want to worry about digital communications. He or she isn’t comfortable with the new, Web 2.0 world, finds it impossible to control and nearly impossible to explain to the C-suite. So, why not let the next shift worry about it?

If, however, the survey finding indicates an inability on the part of marketers to ‘sell’ digital to the c-suite, then I suggest a competitive audit is exactly the way to do so. Most CEOs move like greased lightning when shown clear evidence of a competitor’s strategic maneuvering. And, what better way to get Avis to move, for example, than by showing the CEO what Hertz is doing in Web 2.0?

Digital is not only a game changer that’s here to stay, it’s a game changer that can help you stay ahead of your competition.

Feb 08

Youth could hold key vote to presidential election

Steve and Ted discuss the remaining presidential candidates and the impact of young voters on theirRepchatter_logo
candidacy. 

The discussion centers on the candidates efforts to reach the younger generation.  Which candidate creates the most appeal to younger voters?

Are there digital capabilities that can be utilized to reach the masses?  Will there even be enough attendance at the polls from the younger audience to create an impact on the elections?

May 17

Ad industry should do its homework first before asking PR: why can’t we all just get along?

I’m reading more and more articles in the ad trades about PR’s growing importance and its seeming ‘encroachment’ into such ‘traditional’ advertising domains as word-of-mouth.

This week’s Ad Age contains an interesting piece by Noelle Weaver that asks, in effect, why we can’t all just get along. Alongside it, though, is a telling list of comments from various readers, that explain, in part, why the disconnect continues.

One observation from an integrated marketing agency executive inadvertently nails the ‘problem’ on the head. Intending to illustrate how each discipline contributes thinking to the other, he writes, ‘…..PR people often identify the Big Idea and write great headlines and taglines, and the ad creatives come up with great promotions, events and story placement ideas.’ And, therein lies the problem.

Ad people still think of PR as being limited solely to stunts, press releases and media relations. It isn’t. And, it hasn’t been for some time. The best PR is being leveraged to create new, and serious, dialogues with a rapidly-changing end user landscape, and ranges from viral and digital initiatives to thought leadership and strategic partnerships. As long as advertising types continue to see us as stuntmen and women, they’ll continue scratching their heads wondering why we can’t all just get along (and continue to lose more and more of the client’s overall marketing budget).