Archive for May 2011
Fate, coincidence, alignment of the stars - call it what you want all I know is that last night I had one of those strange experiences where you feel someone out there has an inside track on your life (and I'm not ruling that out by the way as I've just re-read 1984).
Let me fill you in.
Just last week, Echo Research - the global leader in communication and reputation measurement - was acquired by Ebiquity plc, the global leader in media and marketing measurement. Put simply it means that together we can now measure and analyse how effectively a company's communication is working together to achieve its goals - are their PR, advertising, marketing, sponsorship, online etc all aligned and on message and if not why not?
Yesterday was our 'getting to know you' day, as our two teams shared ideas, approaches and were introduced to their new colleagues - an inspiring day all round. So imagine my surprise when on the way home I read Gideon Spanier's excellent article in The Evening Standard, where he very neatly outlined the breaking down of the barriers between content and advertising.
We have reached the point when neither can be seen in isolation, or as standalone components of the communications mix. Now all communications must be joined up, working together to tell the story, to tell it clearly and show that it means what it says.
So no wonder I felt like Winston Smith for a split second - this is exactly the space that Echo and Ebiquity operate in - Gideon was talking to me, about me. Then the paranoia wore off and reality set in. This convergence of media, communications and marketing and their collective impact on reputation were the precise reason that our two companies had come together. This is the direction our world is moving.
Clients have been telling us for some time now that they want to link the various strands of their communications mix across the business, to understand what the common voice is and that all are working to the same ends - but this comes with a realisation that it's far easier said than done. Gone are the days of marketing, advertising, sponsorship and communications departments working in silos - now the opposite is true - so how do they work together?
Of course social media is to blame; it always is, no matter what the subject.
To me, it's simply about authenticity. Think back to the bad old days where the consumer's voice was a letter to faceless bods in a company that didn't even know you existed. A one-way (if you're lucky two-way) conversation to share your grievances and that was it - nobody else knew about it apart from close friends, family and anyone else you cared to tell about it and ok, they may have sympathised with you but the point is it didn't change anything - we all just carried on being a bit disgruntled - that's how it worked.
Through the power of one way media they could tell you they were the most customer-friendly company in the world or had your best interests at heart but the reality could have been quite different - authenticity was undermined.
Social media has put paid to that! Nothing is secret in social media, nothing is personal and nothing can be ignored. If you let someone down, you'll hear about it on social media (ask Dave Carroll) So if you're claiming one thing in your communications and you're delivering something else - you'll know what to expect.
Okay, that's been the established model for a while now but it's brought about a subtle change whereby authenticity is now placed at the heart of everything leading companies must do - there is nowhere to hide so you might as well be up front about it and you MUST be consistent about it.
Mix your message, confuse your stakeholders or worse, fail to deliver against your promises and you'll be found out. So, no, it's not about how good your advertising is any more or how well your PR is working for you - it's about how well they're working together, how clearly they are delivering your message and how well they are instilling trust.
For those that get it right then that social media machine will shout it from the rooftops and the word will spread like wildfire - get it wrong and Room 101 awaits.