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The Rise of Converged Media [Expert Interviews]

Perri Robinson

Oct 30, 2020

The digital landscape we once knew has changed, and traditional roles of PR and marketing professionals have been forced to adapt alongside this transformation.

As the lines between paid, earned, owned and social media continue to blur, communication leaders are constantly having to adapt in order to survive, let alone thrive. So how exactly are marcomms pros responding to this change?

Well, to start with, they’re pooling cross-functional resources together. This means they’re also having to broaden their knowledge of both social and editorial media and learning to navigate the complexities of modern integrated campaign management.

Responding to this change is near impossible when teams are siloed, which creates unnecessary complexities like duplicative reporting efforts and excesses support. Yet, PR and marketing teams working in isolation is, unfortunately, pretty common in most organizations ...

To help understand how converged media come about, gain a better insight into how PR and marketing can work together and learn tips for leveraging paid, earned, owned, and social media tactics, we asked a few respected communications and marketing leaders for their thoughts.

What Fuelled the Rise of Converged Media?

In order to predict where the industry is heading, we need to understand how it was shaped in the past, so we took a step back to try and figure out where converge media originated by asking thought leaders the following question: Why do you think PR and marketing are converging together, and what are your recommendations for breaking down silos that still exist in some companies?

Here’s what Ben Smith, Co-Founder of PRMoment had to say:

“Public relations and marketing must be integrated for any modern organization to thrive. Transparency, openness and purpose are vital to modern business performance and the departments responsible for the business' reputation and its promotion business play a critical role in connecting any organization with its stakeholders. The connectivity of channels in modern marketing communications means that the PR team and the marketing team naturally converge and coordinate their efforts.”

Expanding on what the connectivity between PR and marketing looks like, Marie-laure Laville, General Manager at LEWIS France explains:

“Influence is the link between marketing and PR, and PR is a key tool in managing influence, so it’s not surprising that 96% of marketing and Communication Directors think digital PR is a crucial element of their communication plan.

The world is changing, and marketing is heavily influenced by digital technology. Communication and media have undergone major changes with the arrival of digital and social networks. For example, influencers and ambassadors are resonating with target audiences more than ever.

Whatever the reason for PR and marketing moving closer together is, one thing is sure: influencers are the new way of how digital marketing works. This is PR 2.0.

According to one study, 92% of millennials trust more in what influencers say than what conventional ads try to sell them...Influencers have the power to shape what we believe and think, so it’s important that they use their platforms wisely."

People sitting around a table with sticky pads working things out

Bertrand Jouvenot, marketing influencer and prominent writer on business, management, marketing, branding and digital, echoed Marie-Laure’s views on influence being the main catalyst of converged media. He writes:

“PR and marketing are converging for three reasons. First, the potential influence of customers can overpass PR, even the best stories. Second, the same customers who were targeted for their money by marketing teams yesterday are targeted by PR teams for their influence today. Third, the horizontal trust between peers is overpassing the vertical trust of people who are credible by default, like doctors, politicians, journalists, etc.

My recommendations for breaking down the silos between PR and marketing are:

  • Start with data and hard facts, not your own beliefs and phantasms about your dream customers. Marketing surveys and analysis will tell you how customers are, while PR will tell how we would like them to be.
  • Have both your marketing and PR teams take a seat around the table and analyze together. Assuming that opposite points of views will emerge, this can help both parties better understand one another other.
  • Admit that customers are cleverer than you imagine, so play the transparency game with them by asking them to collaborate with you. Who knows, if you can’t manage to break down your silos, maybe your customers will.”

Interestingly, Tram Huynh, Head of Marketing for Southern Europe at Airbnb also said that influence was the cornerstone that PR and marketing had in common. She explains:

“PR and marketing have always been working in conjunction, but the difference was that marketing was reduced to paid advertising and PR to free publicity. Marketing had budget, and PR had relationships. Today, this differentiation is no longer meaningful because people don’t trust advertising the way they did before the internet. They are less naïve; they are the fake news generation. They want honesty, authenticity and transparency - so the brand and its marketing need to be the same. Influence is the new cornerstone and both PR and marketing need to play along with it to communicate in one single voice.”

None of the above leaders was prompted for their answer, so it was pretty surprising that every one of them said that influence was the string that binds PR and marketing functions.

PESO Tactics & Tips

Next, we wanted to learn how brands can better use the variety of PESO tactics available. Influencer marketing was an obvious one to start with since influence significantly helps increase the reach of paid, owned, shared and earned media. So, we asked Heidi Myers, Marketing Director for Uber, for her take on getting influencers to work for you since they’re in such high demand these days. Here’s what she said:

“As Dale Carnegie says so eloquently, 'There is only one way... to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.' This is also true for working with influencers. As marketers, we have to consider why the influencer would want to work with our brand. We spend so much money and time in trying to better understand our target audience - who they are, what they like, what they read, what about our product or service talks to them or what pain point it addresses -  but then we only think of the influencer as someone who can do something for us. My advice is to treat influencer engagement in the same way as you would a buyer engagement. Consider what they like, dislike, and what you can do for them rather than the other way around. Ultimately, the question is what do THEY care about and how can your brand support.”

An influencer taking pictures

When it comes to shared media, one of the most effective forms available is user-generated content. We asked Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow, Marketing Director EMEA for HubSpot if she had any tips for brands encouraging employees to share brand-related content. Here’s her response:

“While brand awareness and reputation are cornerstones for any business when it comes to marketing, it’s important to remember that brands are also the sum of the people who work for them. In the B2B space, in particular, customers and prospects will remember the individuals they interact with just as much as the brand itself. Going a step further and creating true brand ambassadors from within the business can deliver powerful results. When doing this, there are a few things to keep in mind to help the program to succeed.

First, focus on finding people who are keen to grow their own followership online and agree on realistic goals. This is something that should be mutually beneficial and that the person is enthusiastic about, so they do not see this as a set of extra responsibilities beyond their own job role.

Secondly, don’t overthink the content. Posts featuring PDFs with simple text or images which cover thought leadership topics are most effective at getting a point across quickly and clearly. This helps engagement since complex or lengthy content will be ignored.

Finally, trust your brand ambassadors and don’t control them. If you find the right people with a genuine interest in sharing content and learning more about the industry, they’ll come across as much more authentic and authoritative to their audience.”

Starbucks user-generated content campaign

Sometimes marketing professionals shy away from paid media because it has a bad rap for being expensive, so we asked Mike Blake-Crawford, Strategy Director for Social Chain how brands can get more bang for their buck when it comes to paid media. Here’s what he had to say:

“The notion that paid media is expensive is only when it is taken without the context of a return. A £100,000 media spend cannot be viewed as expensive if it returns £1m.

With respect to driving efficiency, there are obvious opportunities in investing in new media. Social, for example, can provide a CPM at only a fraction of what you would expect to pay on TV, but capturing attention requires more creative communication. By the same order, TikTok is cheaper than Facebook, but arguably the audience is narrower in addition to the creative challenges.

Aside from obvious opportunities within leveraging new media, leveraging the virality which is prevalent across digital channels with strong creative is another great way of doing this. Iceland's 'banned from TV' Christmas advert is supported by YouTube ad spend and influencer investment on social and went viral, delivering well over a billion impressions. KFC's 2018 'FCK' print ad was shared millions of times on social media and subsequently achieved millions of earned impressions as a result.

The lesson? Pairing strong creative that drives virality with tactical media spend (i.e., getting in the right place at the right time) can deliver efficiencies well in excess of what can be achieved through a typical media buy alone.”

Want to learn more about getting your media strategy to work harder by integrating all media types? Check out our new ebook which unwraps the foundations of the PESO model, created by Gini Dietrich, and more!