Integrating Communication: Engaging Your Audience

6 10 2009

Too many people think that integrated marketing communications (IMC) is only about making all your messages match. At its most basic, some see IMC as branding: using the same logo, colors, and tagline in every communication piece. But in reality, IMC has little to do with making everything look the same, at least for successful IMC. No, IMC is about engaging individuals and groups across your stakeholder spectrum, through synergy and appealing to their hearts and minds.

For Example: Queensland, Australia’s “Best Job in the World” Campaign:

This campaign embodies IMC. It’s about building relationships and engaging stakeholders, through an innovative message that is carried and translated across multiple media channels.

oh…and in case you want to know which video application won?


A successful IMC campaign should have continuity, and a sense of permanence to it. Of course, this was fully built into the Queensland campaign:


Subliminal Communication

19 09 2007

I was introduced to this video in the context of innovation, and where ideas come from, but I think it has even more significant meaning in the context of marketing communications.

The obvious lesson here is that the power of suggestion is real, and the easy take-away is that people will remember what they see. But underlying the obvious is the backbone to word of mouth. It’s easier to recall information that is repeatedly in front of you. It’s readily available to your cognitive process and comes out, even when you may not even mean for it to. We often sew such messages into applicable conversations and experiences. Buzz marketing operates on this principle, though on a deeper level. At the surface, buzz marketing focuses on building recognition through positive word of mouth, which is a conscious activity. However, how much of buzz marketing really operates on the deeper subconscious level? In other words, we’re so used to seeing certain images in a certain context that we unknowingly associate the two, and the act accordingly (which would entail bringing up the product or service in casual conversation).

Sounds simple enough for marketing, but what does this mean for public relations? I am one who follows a more relationship-based public relations approach, that the practitioner is the mediator between the organization and the public, and through a symmetrical relationship provides both the org and the public a basis on which to build a positive and mutually beneficial relationship. However, the advent of integrated marketing communication almost 2 decades ago brought new meaning to public relations and marketing, as both functions work synergistically and harmoniously to create a consistent meaning for an organization. IMC is problematic for public relations because even the hint of marketing persuasion stands to damage the credibility of public relations efforts, which are supposed to be free from marketing and selling messages.

So the question that is worth tossing around is, what does this mean for public relations? As more and more companies integrated all communication efforts, public relations practitioners will undoubtedly run into marketing focused concepts, and may even have to operate underneath that context. Is this problematic for you as a consumer? What value does a company’s public relations efforts hold for you and does the integration of PR and marketing damage those expectations?