What I learned from PR+Mktg Camp (creating a customer-centric team)


Last week, Wade Rockett from Weber Shandwick and I moderated a session at PR+Mktg Camp Seattle on the organizational alignment of PR, marketing and social media functions. I shared my thoughts on the topic prior to the event here, but we had a number of good conversations in this session as well. Here are a few key points:

It’s not a big enough question: We were asked to discuss the alignment of PR and marketing teams in organizations, but there’s more to it than that. Who owns social media? If we were to start over, would customer service be a marketing function? And who cares about the organization anyway? We should be answering this question based on what’s best for the brand and for the paying customer, not based on which desks are where.

It’s about the customer: If we were to blow up the way we work today – organizations & agencies – how would we reorganize to strengthen our brands and make money (for ourselves and our customers)? The new organizations would look very different, would likely be more directly driven by revenue objectives, and would be far more customer-centric. Your customer doesn’t see your organization as 16 separate units (customer service, PR, advertising, sales, etc.). Sure, those are different roles played by different people, but how do you make that seamless to the outside world? We’re not doing that very well today, but we should be.

Executive support is key: Better alignment of PR & marketing around customer needs must to be supported at the highest levels of the organization. No reason why this effort can’t start as a groundswell, but the cross-functional work required to create a more effective, externally-seamless execution just won’t work unless it’s supported by the people who manage the overall direction and focus of the organization and brand.

Align everyone behind common outcomes, goals and rewards: This one is simple – if everyone is measured by the same outcome, there’s no choice but to work together on common campaigns, seamless execution and cross-media ideas that make sense and build value, preference and action with your customers.

My favorite comment of the day was from the founder of a local start-up, who said he’s “making up” how to build a PR and marketing function for his company, because, as he said it, “I don’t know any better.” Well, if he’s doing so with an eye towards what makes most sense for the business and for the customer, he’s probably building a model the rest of us should pay close attention to.