PR versus marketing: The final battle over social media

ShareLast week Vocus, a provider of on-demand PR management software, announced the results of a survey which found that the turf battle between PR and marketing rages on, especially over ownership of social media initiatives.

Key survey findings include the following:

  • Lines between PR and marketing continue to blur.  78 percent report to the same boss.
  • Turf battles still evident.  34% cite organizational structures, functional silos or turf battles as the single largest barrier to integrated communications.
  • Ownership of social media and blogging up in the air. 43% of PR professionals say they should own it, while 34% make the same claim.
  • The two groups come together on the need for measurement. 56% of both marketing and PR professionals agree that an integrated communications increases overall effectiveness of their programs and 48% cite sales and ROI as the most important metrics.

Honestly I’m weary of this discussion over ownership. It doesn’t matter who “owns” the actual social web communication activities as long as it is clearly and precisely supporting the marketing strategy.  On most big strategy questions, I usually think the answer is “it depends.”  But this is one of the few cases where the answer seems beyond doubt: Marketing should ultimately own the integrated communications strategy. Here’s the logic:

1) A company exists to attract and retain customers, thereby creating shareholder value.  Peter Drucker famously said that the “purpose of a company is marketing and innovation. Everything else is overhead.”

2) While there are many useful PR-related social media applications, directly or indirectly these activities are enabling a civic, political, labor, and business climate to make it easier to manufacture and sell products to customers. If they are not supporting this central goal, the activities should end.

3) Everything a company says or doesn’t say — on the social web or otherwise — affects the brand image, which must be singularly controlled with laser focus by marketing, without question.

I cannot fathom a situation where a communication channel like a corporate blog is not ultimately considered a marketing function … even if the PR department is writing it, which is perfectly fine.

For my PR friends who are feeling testy at this point, I would like to proudly proclaim that I started my career in your worthy field, so I do not have an anti-PR bias. I have an anti-ridiculous-strategy-bias.  And to claim that PR should lead customer-facing activities is ridiculous.   Support, complement, even help devise … yes.  But lead, no.

Further, while this “battle” rages on supposedly, I have not seen one coherent explanation as to why PR should not defer to marketing on overall strategy issues.

Please, can we end this debate?

New site curates government social media usage

If you market to governments and governmental agencies, a new social media directory may be extremely useful to your efforts.

Microsoft just launched a site called Gov2Social, a directory that aims to list state-by-state for the social media participation for elected officials, state government agencies, cities, towns and counties.

The project is counting on users to input their government’s social media participation.  It currently has about 500 entries so it’s usefulness is pretty limited at the moment but keep an eye on it if you market and sell to governments.

When the website is populated, it will be possible to sort and analyze top government social media users by city and state.  Microsoft also plans to add add podcasts, analytics, case studies and best practices.

In praise of poopy blogs

I was rolling around on the floor with some of my young nieces and nephews and somehow the word “poop” entered the conversation.  Every time I said it, the kiddos would burst into hysterical fits of laughter.

Soon I was trying variations. Loud poop, soft poop, high poop, low poop.  There was Dr. Seuss-style poop. Ploopity-loopity-poop.

I would hold my breath, act like I was ready to burst, and then explode with poop … figuratively of course.

The kids were laughing so hard that soon the adults had tears running down their faces too.  It was one of the moments of contagious joy.

How I wish I could just bottle that up and share it with all of you.  So I thought I would start with this.


Did you smile?  Heck.  I smiled just typing it!  So there.  It’s a start.

Where is all this leading?  Nowhere. But of course if you read this blog you’re accustomed to that. I just thought it was time to plow new ground.  First major blogger to use “poopy” in a headline.  A true milestone in social media history. Eat my dust, Brogan.

Sometimes it’s challenging to provide meaningful content on {grow} and have fun too.  I’ll often look back at a week of posts and think, “It’s time to lighten up man. That was some serious shit.”  Or … serious poop. Either way.

So thanks for hanging with me on a not-so-serious, offbeat post. Now, I double-dare you to re-tweet it.  People will think you’re crazy but this might be your only chance to legitimately use “poopy” in a tweet. That is my gift to you.   Share the love.  Spread the poop.

Illustration: My nephew Owen!

Can your website pass the 20 second test?

Twenty seconds.

That’s about the amount of time you have to grab a visitor’s attention on your website. To keep them there, you better have something great to say and it better be quick!  There are four messages you need to deliver in those precious moments that will determine whether somebody is a sales lead or a passerby:

1) Graphic impact. Everything you do (and don’t do!) communicates about your brand. So before they read a single word, the graphic impact of your site is already going to leave a big impression. How does the look and feel of your site contribute to the story of your brand? Is it buttoned up? Is it bold? Is it inviting?

2) The big deal. So the graphic impact has held their attention long enough for them to begin to read.  Way to go! The first thing you need to say to your visitor, powerfully and succinctly, is “I am different.”  Why should the reader go to the next sentence?  Tell them!   Are you the biggest, boldest, newest, safest, most innovative, best value, most experienced, wisest, or the most colorful?  What are you, and why should they spend their time here rather than going back to play Farmville?

3) The unmet needs. Now let’s get very specific.  Next you need to tell them how you serve them uniquely. What needs do you meet?  This is different than explaining what you “sell.”  Customers don’t buy what you sell. They buy what they need and want. Explain what problems you solve for them. For example, every caterer delivers delicious food. But what customers really WANT is a worry-free, memorable occasion that won’t break the bank.

4) What next? OK, you have their attention ever so briefly. Now give them a reason to stay on your site to learn more.  This is commonly known as the call to action. Ask them to call, respond, or register. Offer them a free white paper, menu, trial offer, consultation, podcast, eBook.  Ask them to view your portfolio, blog, testimonies, case studies. Create another touch point between you and this sales lead. Don’t let them go quite yet!

And really, that’s it. There’s not much more you can do in 20 seconds to give yourself a shot at creating a sales lead out of a visitor. I’m sure you have your own ideas, too. Please leave a comment with your own ideas, problems and questions!

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