While digital marketing may be improving engagement between companies and customers, the relationships between different marketing factions—advertising, data analytics, media buying and public relations—still need work. Marketers talks a good game, peppered with buzzwords like convergence, integration and collaboration, yet organizational silos persist within most companies; conflicting agendas between groups often come before company goals; and many practitioners still see marketing as a zero-sum game. Take, for example, the recent error by The Council of Public Relations Firms, who invited advertising executive Edward Boches, to speak at an upcoming forum, only to rescind the invitation once they realized he was in advertising, not PR.
Competition is certainly a contributing factor to the continued discord between the divisions of marketing. Internal marketing teams compete for scarce resources and become insular in an effort to maintain control of these resources. Digital marketing service providers compete for leadership position and budget, expanding their service offerings in an effort to remain relevant and increase their scope of work. While some degree of competition is healthy and is to be expected, too much competition stands in the way of cooperation while the success of digital marketing initiatives hangs in the balance. The effort for brands to be creative, customer-centric, data-driven, digitally savvy and strategic, while simultaneously thinking like a publisher, necessitates partnerships across boundaries.
Success in digital marketing is often the result of a mashup of tactics and technology from multiple sources, which means marketers need to think beyond their role, team and hierarchy to embrace the ideas, and, in some cases, the expertise of others. For internal marketing teams, this means cutting through corporate clutter; setting aside egos; soliciting ideas from others; ceding some control; and maintaining speed and agility in execution. For service providers, it’s time for an honest assessment of your areas of expertise to determine when and where you can legitimately add value. Convergence implies that distinct paths likes advertising and public relations are merging, but there are skills that are native in an ad agency and would need to be developed or acquired for a PR firm to add the same value.
Digital marketing has created the ultimate mash-up, with each discipline having something valuable to offer. Those offerings will continue to evolve as the lines between these areas blur, and perhaps become non-existent, at least in the eyes of the audience. As this occurs, success will increasingly depend on collaborative, not competitive forces between internal teams and service providers.