As a firm, we have recently aligned around an idea called Communications Marketing, which is best described as a blend of brand promotion and corporate reputation, serving both the Chief Communications Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Richard Edelman recently shared his views on this idea and the implications for marketers. A central tenant of Communications Marketing is that companies and brands can no longer demand the attention of consumers and stakeholders, but instead must earn it every day through great content, delivered across multiple platforms. It requires a different way of thinking and a different skill set than many companies have today.
I also posit that this shift toward a new way of marketing and stakeholder engagement has great implications for how companies engage their workforces in two distinct ways:
- As senior leadership teams shift marketing focus to embrace new approaches, traditional power structures between PR and marketing are threatened. Marketing teams may be asked to look at the world (and their related budgets) in a whole new way; sales teams may be asked to sell against a new model and success metrics. PR teams may be challenged to quickly evolve their skill set and immersion in social and digital solutions. A tremendous leadership alignment and change management focus must accompany any move toward a Communications Marketing mindset, and companies should be explicit with their employees about the competitive landscape and business strategy driving these shifts.
- Leaders of employee engagement and communications should take the spirit of Communications Marketing to heart and apply it to their own programs and approaches to engaging the workforce. Similar to how companies must earn – not demand – the attention of consumers, they must also earn the hearts and minds of their employees through compelling content, delivered in the right ways. Gone are the days when companies could demand the undivided attention of their workforces simply because they were on the payroll. Employee communications content strategies must evolve and keep pace with external distractions for employees. Ask yourself one question: If my employees have a choice between reading a ten-paragraph email from the CEO or taking the latest Buzzfeed quiz on sex, which are they choosing?