July 31, 2014

The five most useful Google+ write-ups from comms pros

There have been tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of words written about Google+ already, but as the new social network takes its first tentative steps in beta, the industry is asking…

What does this new platform mean for PR, marketing and other comms professionals?

It’s not an easy one to answer, but here are five articles that helped me get to the heart of the matter:

  1. The PR and marketing implications of Google+ by Shel Holtz. This is about as thorough as you can get right now. Shel hasn’t churned out a Google+ 101 post, he’s written an article with the uses for comms pros in mind. Read it.
  2. Should PR and social media people be getting excited by Google+? by Phil Szomszor. Should we all be leaping on board and putting our campaign budgets into Google+ right now? Phil has sensible answers.
  3. Conversations matter in Google+ by Chris Brogan. I have to agree with Chris’s simple but crucial observation here. The quality of conversations and responses in my stream, right now, is blowing Twitter and Facebook out of the water. If that continues, it’s a big deal for brands (particularly when the door opens to them).
  4. Why Google Has the Hammer To Make Businesses Use Google Plus by Jay Baer. This is a comparatively complex article (make a cup of tea before you start reading) but it takes a really good stab at mapping the evolution of search, SEO, social, where Google+ fits in, and where it’s going. Useful stuff.
  5. Google+, Businesses and Beyond by Christian Oestlien. In a video rather than a written post, Christian, a product manager on Google+ explains why it’s not quite ready for businesses yet, and gives some hints on where it might be going. Watch it below:

So, when it comes to Google+, what are your predictions, observations hopes and concerns for the comms industry?

Mixing social media into marketing #CommsChat

If you’re a regular to this blog, or follow me on Twitter/Facebook, you’ll know that I run a weekly Twitter chat for comms professionals on Monday nights (8pm-9pm UK time) with my #CommsChat co-founder Adam Vincenzini.

Last night, we were honoured to have Beth Harte as our guest mod and the topic was “Integrating social media into the marketing mix“. A healthy mix of new faces and #CommsChat stalwarts took part, with 90+ contributors and 500+ tweets.

Here’s a summary of the questions Beth threw out, and a selection of the tweets each one sparked:

Q1: Have you been using social media for product development?

  • @juphilpott: Absolutely. Our product IS our outstanding service to our members/cust and content found on #sm platforms help tremendously.
  • @Jane63C: I see sm as vital to building relationships, communities etc so very much at the heart of a PR strategy.
  • @DamnRedHead: Using SM in prod dev isn’t necessarily “crowdsourcing,” curation/aggregation can also help dev prods.
  • @RachAllen: I don’t think products have to be ‘social’ – interacting with customers should be though surely?
  • @LoisMarketing: Treated SM world as a public focus group — received great feedback, very helpful and supportive participants.

Q2: In regards to social media is it important to give customers the ability to provide their wants and needs? Why (not)?

  • @NotFromBolton: How can you stop them, seriously. Much better to channel it into something useful surely?
  • @MichaelWhite1: Customers are your wants and needs. Therefore it is important to provide for them.
  • @ahhzen: Doesn’t it depend on how responsive you can be? No point asking if you can’t deal with the answers.
  • @jane63c: Social media is by its nature two way communication so you must allow that engagement to build effective relationships.
  • @Dan_Martin: You don’t provide them the “ability” to do it; they will do it on Twitter, Facebook etc anyway! #commschat

Q3: If customers (B2B and B2C) were complaining about price via social media, what would you do with that info?

  • @jane63c: Back to engagement and two way comms complaining via sm is very public can quickly become crisis comms if not handled swiftly would probably add it to the mix of other information I had to help make a more informed pricing decision
  • @RobertPickstone: Would probably add it to the mix of other information I had to help make a more informed pricing decision.
  • @NotFromBolton: Learn from it. But if they come to you on price they will leave you on price. There has to be other differentiators.
  • @MarcSkaf: If they are complaining about price, it is your job to show them that the value is greater than the price.
  • @BethHarte: Social media isn’t always necessarily two-way. As a consumer, I might complain, but never interact with a brand.

Q4: What about “place.” If you hear via social media that you aren’t selling where people want to buy, what next? For example, I loved Putumayo World Music, but they don’t sell on on iTunes, so I don’t buy anymore. Do you have an example?

  • @NotFromBolton: It’s all about trends surely. Trends of topic vs outcome. What comments are made are immaterial unless its impacting the outcome.
  • @ahhzen: Does this become about volume? if enough potential customers SM to request a location then investigate it?
  • @JonClements: Investigate! And tell people you’re doing so.
  • @mazherabidi: Online has to be consideration here? Dunno if I can expect physical stores everywhere, but I expect online store.
  • @TotMac: Is the Beatles on iTunes not a good example of this? Legal wranglings aside, customers wanted it there.

Q5: What companies do you see doing a great job with social media communication?

  • @Jane63c: I think charities/not for profit sector are really getting to grips with SM, also transformed lobbying.
  • @MichaelWhite1: Big fan of @XboxSupport as well (no bias, I don’t run it!).

Hungry for more? Read the full transcript here, and join in with #CommsChat next week!

Changing your Twitter handle: choosing “Brand You”

This is a guest post from Heather Townsend, business consultant and founder of The Efficiency Coach.

On Twitter, Heather holds considerable sway among UK SMEs, so when she announced she was changing her handle on the site, I asked her to write a few words to explain her decision, and how it fits into her plans for her personal / business brand.

Why have I taken the drastic step of changing my Twitter name?

I’ve spent the last eighteen months building up the brand, The Efficiency Coach on social media. This week I took the risky step of changing my name on Twitter to @HeatherTowns rather than @EfficiencyCoach. Like many people you may be thinking, “Why…? Is she throwing the baby away with the bath water? Is everything OK…?”

The Efficiency Coach is going from strength to strength and has been bigger than just me for the last eight months. In fact if I am going to grow the business to its full potential, I need to remove myself from ‘being’ The Efficiency Coach. I’m still the same old me, but my five year vision and plan needed me to have a strong personal brand as ‘The Professional Expert your firm needs to talk to’, rather than piggy-backing on The Efficiency Coach brand. I need to build up a personal brand as writer, speaker, coach and consultant – who happens to run both ‘The Efficiency Coach’ and ‘the executive village’, rather than ‘The Efficiency Coach who is writing a book and co-founded ‘the executive village’. Does that make sense?

I was finding that everyone was introducing me as ‘The Efficiency Coach’, whereas, if I am going to fulfil my personal vision, I needed to brand myself for the job I want, rather than I have.  Still being openly referred to as ‘The Efficiency Coach’ is going to scupper my attempts to build up the brand as the professional services expert.

You look at any of the experts with a household name, such as Ivan Misner, Dan Schawbel, Chris Brogan, Guy Clapperton, Andy Lopata, Brad Burton, they all have a strong personal brand rather than hiding behind their business’s brand.  (It is not a co-incidence that I have spoken to all but one of these people in the last three months, to interview them for ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’)

Phew, announcement over. I can now blossom fully as myself again and come out from the shadow of ‘The Efficiency Coach’.

Is your personal brand constraining you?

Heather Townsend.

Let’s not forget the importance of honesty in social media

This is a guest post by Mazher Abidi, a marketer and blogger based in Manchester, UK.

Social media (and social networking in the broad sense) could prove to become one of the greatest applications of Internet technology bar none.

As with any community, there are unwritten rules by which its members live by. For example, there are etiquettes related to tweeting and retweeting, recommendations when it comes to selling vs. conversing, conflicting schools of thought when it comes auto vs. personal posting…all of this before anyone has even touched on the thorny subject of sharing Farmville and Mafia Wars stories.

Yet the one common view that appears to transcend all debates is that social media users MUST be honest. This was plainly revealed on August 9th by all the participants in the weekly #commschat on twitter (every Monday 7pm GMT, 8pm BST hosted by @EmilyCagle and @AdamVincenzini from @CommsChat), where the subject under discussion was comms confessions.

Social media users and communicators, both personal and business, appear to need to live by this mantra online or risk being marked out as social media outcasts by their peers, seeing their flaws globally retweeted or (in the ultimate symbol of social media displeasure) being unfollowed and unfriended.

From the discussion, here follows a list of the top 5 reasons why you NEED to be honest on social media:

1. We can see through it

A community of highly intelligent and communications savvy users has formed on social networks, whether as a function of the presence of the tech aware innovators and early adopters or mass uptake. But whoever they are, they all have an opinion; and there are some serious social media influencers out there that have the kind of credibility some offline influencers can only dream of.

They cannot be fooled, nor can they be placated when they feel wronged. There are genuine multi way conversations taking place on social media and ideas are being shared every second.

Spin now has no place in social media and modern communications. Should your message be uncovered as somehow dishonest, a mistruth or a blatant lie, these people will know about it, and the message will spread due to the lack of…

2. Control

The Internet in general and social media especially has spread at a rate that even the word exponential doesn’t quite cover. 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute and in just over 5 years the twitterati have racked up 20 billion tweets.

It stands to reason therefore that once your message is out there in the socialsphere, it ceases to become solely your message. For this reason, it needs to be pitch and content perfect, or you run the risk of serious damage to your…

3. Reputation

Increasingly, social media is being seen by organisations as a key part of their PR strategy. It makes sense considering it is a direct route to consumers, key decision makers and influencers within B2C and B2B markets.

PR, as defined by the Charetered Institute of PR, is “the establishment and maintenance of goodwill between an organisation and its publics”. Such goodwill cannot be maintained without the truth.

Reputations can be shattered through social media; witness the way Apple (for example) was forced to take notice and react to antenna-gate on the iPhone4 thanks to the huge swell of opinion against it on social media.

The best way to avoid this? Be honest.

Of course this does not only count for reputation in the here and now. It is also a concern for…

4. The future

The amount of information held on the web does not even bear an attempt to quantify. The consequence of this is that messages, files, images…anything that appears on the Internet – stays on the Internet. Forever.

Companies AND individuals cannot afford for anything they perceive as negative to be on there, even on page 4 of a Google search. For if it’s out there to be found then it can and will be found, more often than not at the least opportune moment.

The picture from the stag do 4 years ago could resurface in a job interview. The accidentally posted press release that was only online for a day could be found on an archived version of a website.

Making sure what goes online is an honest reflection of you or our business will safeguard you for the future.

5. Why not?

Finally, if there’s nothing to hide, there should be no need to hide it!

Shock tactics in advertising – anything goes? (The Student Perspective series)

This guest post from Carly Smith is part of The Student Perspective series – a set of posts contributed by future stars of the comms industry.

A couple of months back, the Charity Commission updated the guidelines on fundraising and warned charities over the risks to reputation associated with using shock tactics to encourage donations and raise awareness. After reading the article in PR Week, it got me thinking: should shock tactics be allowed? And in such a crowded market place are they effective anymore?

We’ve all seen the adverts featuring the lonely puppy tied up by the side of the road and the children living in a shanty town surrounded by rubbish, but has the time come for charities to find new methods of attracting our attention?

The majority of people know what these charities stand for so don’t need to be reminded every time they see the advert. Some people may find the content of the advert distressing and be so shocked that they disengage with the advert and the charity completely because they associate them in a negative way. There is also the argument that one of the reasons people donate money to charities is because they experience a sense of guilt, these adverts are encouraging this as individuals will look at themselves sat in their comfortable well furnished houses and feel bad. Would it not be better to try and educate donors as to how their money would benefit and show the work they have done already? This is an approach that Cancer Research UK has adopted and I feel it has been successful for them.

However is this all just further evidence of the so called ‘nanny state’ trying to shield people from what goes on in the real world? The advert represents what the charity stands for and illustrates the type of work it does. As my grandparents would say: ‘If people don’t like it then they can just turn it over.’

I do believe that when used effectively shock tactics can be a brilliant addition to a campaign as they break through advertising clutter and are likely to be remembered. In my opinion the THINK car safety campaigns use shock tactics effectively and are memorable. The main message of the advert is always remembered and sometimes I find myself quoting them saying things such as: ‘Don’t be a back seat killer!’ to my friends when they are in the back seats.

Shock tactics should be used with caution and extensive research should be done as to not offend viewers or shock anyone too much. There will always be people who prefer not to see them but that’s their choice. A balance is needed, therefore a campaign should be both informational and attention seeking.

What do you think about adverts relying on shock tactics? Is there a place for shock advertising? Would you be more likely to donate to a charity who didn’t use them or not?

Carly Smith is currently in between her 2nd and 3rd year at the University of Lincoln studying Marketing and Public Relations. She has a work placement at a local PR agency one day a week on an unpaid basis.

Five things your home page can do without

This is a guest post by Tom Albrighton, a professional copywriter and founder/director of ABC Copywriting, based in Norwich.

Planning the home page. So important, and so difficult. Often, our answer is to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. The trouble is, you end up with a lot of stuff that you really don’t need. So in a spirit of ‘less is more’, here are five things you could consider hacking away from your home page.

Welcome message

This is a contentious one. Many marketers and copywriters feel that the ‘welcome’ statement is embarrassingly old hat, and shouldn’t be present on a modern website.

I agree that it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it, or that it’s not effective.

In my view, a ‘welcome’ statement has its place if it talks to the priorities of your visitors and makes them more likely to stay. If it just wastes their time or irritates them, drop it.

For example, a niche online retailer selling speciality coffees is the kind of cosy ‘shop’ you’d like to be welcomed into, while an all-business insurance comparison site would probably do better to lead with an eye-catching offer.

If a welcome message isn’t appropriate, you can use the space to offer ‘doorways’ into other parts of the site, or an orientation statement that tells the visitor where they might like to begin browsing.

Background info

I’m a strong believer in a simple, straightforward positioning statement somewhere on the home page, just so visitors can confirm they’re in the right place. For example:

We are a small, friendly team of accountants serving clients in Carlisle and the surrounding area.

Nothing wrong with that. Every word conveys information that visitors almost certainly need, and it’s almost certainly good for SEO too. But the ‘about us’ chat should end as soon as you get into things you want to say, rather than things the audience wants to hear.

For example, it’s unlikely that anyone needs to know immediately when you were founded, how you developed, how many people you employ or (being brutally honest) anything about your beliefs, values or business ethos. Provide that stuff somewhere by all means, but don’t put it on the home page where it could get in the way of a visitor who wants to get facts or make a purchase.

Generic pitches

Many, many websites fall into the trap of making a generic pitch for the products or services they offer, rather than selling themselves specifically. For example:

If you’re setting up in business, you can give your image a major boost with a professionally designed logo and letterhead.

The visitor already knows that. That’s why they went to Google and typed in ‘logo designer’, ‘business stationery design’ or whatever. They’re already persuaded of the general benefits offered by firms like yours, so don’t fritter away their patience by restating those benefits. You’re not writing an ad for the back of a bus – online, your audience is pre-vetted, proactive and attentive.

Remember, the user has probably got a set of nine similar search results sitting right under the ‘back’ button whenever they want them. So draw them in with some reasons they should stay on your site – in other words, the specific benefits of choosing you over a competitor.

Generic selling does nothing to advance your cause and arguably gives a hand to the competition – there’s a risk that you merely reinforce the visitor’s generalised interest, allowing another site to convert it to a lead or sale later on.

Scattergun content

Looking at some home pages, you get the feeling that the company got a bit bored with their own business. On top of the basic text and the navigation, you’re looking at case studies, client logos, special offers, awards, company news, blog posts, knowledge portals, newsletter signups – everything’s been thrown into the pot.

Making a home page is a bit like making a soup. You can put in ten different vegetables if you want, but your users won’t be able to discern every last taste. Instead, you might want to use just two or three really strong flavours and give them a more focused experience. Adding more can lead to dilution rather than concentration. As I’m often telling clients: the more you write, the less likely people are to read it all.

If you look at your home page for years, it’s inevitable that it starts to look a bit dull or elementary. But your visitors have never seen it before. (OK, they might be returning for a second visit, but it still won’t be familiar.) In fact, it may be that your whole industry is a completely closed book to them. Some basic info and a reassuringly simple layout that they can get their heads round in seconds might be just the ticket.

Irrelevant imagery

If you’re selling a product, it makes sense to show the product – holidays, showers, cars. But what if you’re selling a B2B service such as web hosting or copywriting? What should you show then?

Well, you could try to show one of the tools of your trade – a web server, perhaps, or a fountain pen. Unfortunately, those things aren’t that interesting visually, and they run the risk of making your audience think about computer hardware or stationery rather than website uptime and effective communication.

So you go down the road of metaphorical or figurative illustration – light bulbs (=innovation), fast cars (=high performance), shaking hands (=partnership). That gets you a pretty picture, but again, you’re risking the audience thinking about something irrelevant, like cars. And unless you can sustain the metaphor far enough to make every point you need to make, your text is going to end up being on a different theme from your imagery, which means that the overall message will not be harmonious.

It’s difficult. Believe me, I’ve grappled with this beast many a time. But even though it’s hard, you don’t have to make it harder by choosing a design that obliges you to have a leading or ‘hero’ image. Ask your designer to solve the problem with text and graphics.

Ideally, every image should have a semiotic, rather than purely aesthetic, justification – paying its way in terms of meaning as well as decoration.

Tips for a better home page

It’s so easy to criticise. So here are a few positive pointers to help address the problems I’ve covered in this post.

  • Imagine yourself as a newcomer to your site – one with little or no knowledge of your field. How will it come across?
  • Develop your home page for visitors – not for yourself, or to outdo competitors.
  • Make sure everything on your home page has a reason to be there.
  • Don’t be afraid to use space and simplicity to emphasise key messages (or a single message).
  • Keep in mind what you want the user to do. Include a call to action and don’t be afraid to state it early on. You’re selling products or services, not website content.
  • Think of your home page text as an ‘elevator pitch’, or the words you would choose to say if you were introducing your company. Be memorable, but don’t be afraid to state simple details. Facts are reassuring.
  • Don’t sweat it. Remember the user is actively searching – they want to use you. All you have to do is remove the barriers in their way.

Introducing The Student Perspective – a series about comms, from tomorrow’s stars

Tomorrow sees the launch of The Student Perspective – a series of guest posts from the future stars of comms.

Posts in this series will cover the usual fodder seen here (inc. PR, marketing, branding and internal comms) but the thoughts and opinions within will come from the freshest minds in the industry – those of PR & marketing undergraduates.

If you follow the work of David Clare (@davidjmclare on Twitter and once an intern of mine at Cagle Comms) or have ever checked out the articles submitted to @behindthespin (a PR student magazine), you’ll know how valuable such insight can be.

Stay tuned for the first post in the series tomorrow (Monday 13th) at 2pm.

And if you’re a PR/Marketing/Journalism undergrad with a passion for comms and something interesting to say, please send a short summary of your post idea and we’ll get things rolling.

Giving it away: a look at content marketing

This is a guest post by Toby Reid, the founder of In A Fishbowl, a business reality website that follows the progress of three entrepreneurs.

If you are in the service or advisory sector these days then, as unnerving as it sounds, your best marketing strategy is to give away everything you know for free. When you think you have given away nearly all the information you have, go and dig up some more and then give that away as well.

It is called content marketing and here are three reasons why you should be doing it:

Reason 1

Because you will no longer gain and maintain customers by guarding and restricting access to information you hold. “We can tell you this but we could tell you a lot more if you pay us”. Really?…

NO and double no. Those days are gone. They are gone because with the internet nearly all information is freely available. Conceptually, people refuse to pay for something that can be found free elsewhere. They may not find it, or understand it when they do find it, but that doesn’t matter because the damage is done… they have already switched off from you.

Free information is your hook to attract the attention of your target customers.

Reason 2

Brand is no longer just about logos and strap lines, it’s about voice. You want to be a market leader, be a market leading voice. It’s difficult to be a compelling voice without talking about what you know and what you think, so don’t hold back, tell them what you know. Providing quality content establishes you as an authority on your subject and gives you serious credibility in the eyes of your target customers.

Proving you’re an expert in your field sustains the interest of your target customers.

Reason 3

Because your customers still need you. In this age of free information, information isn’t your asset anymore. So give it away! But what will your customer buy from you? Well, your interpretation of the information and application to their personal circumstances, the time savings you can offer them in doing so, the peace of mind of outsourcing to an expert and the customer service you offer along the way.

The time saving, peace of mind and customer service are the benefits you offer. These can easily convert an audience of already interested targets into actual customers. But remember you have to attract their attention and prove your credibility first!

How to write effective customer case studies

This is a guest post from Chris Lee, founder and managing director of PR and social media consultancy, Planet Content, and founder/editor of DIY PR and marketing blog RunMarketing.

Are you proud of what you have achieved for your customers and clients? Can you prove tangible benefits and returns on investment that really illustrate what your company does best? If you can, then this is where case studies come into play.

Publications love the “proof in the pudding” – real-life examples of where companies have used a product or service which has had a demonstrable effect on their business. Could you gain approval from a customer and draft an 800-word account on how you helped it operate more efficiently?

If you could, then this is how a customer case study – or ‘customer evidence’, to our friends across the pond – should be constructed:

Title: Hard-hitting, catching title outlining the crux of the case study in a single line (particularly benefits) – e.g. “Company X saves Company Y £X million a year with product Z”

Subtitle: Add some more quantifiable facts about the customer case study – time savings, staff efficiency etc

Introduction: You have a single paragraph with which to capture the audience and encourage them to read on, so make sure your opening paragraph is tightly written and neatly summarises all the key financial, time and efficiency benefits.

Detail: Under orderly sub-headings you should now go into further details outlining:

  • The existing problem
  • What your company proposed
  • Was the contract put out to tender? If so, what did you do that stood out to win it?
  • What challenges did you overcome, be they physical, financial, cultural etc?
  • What you did in practice and more on how benefits were achieved
  • What was the customer feedback? Include a customer quote
  • Conclusion – include a quote from your own MD, CEO or project manager

Try to keep it to around 800 words, use images and regularly deploy sub-headings to retain reader interest. Don’t forget to get permission from the customer to write the case study before you start drafting and run it by the customer’s marketing team to make amends and approve the final draft. They might not let you disclose everything, but highlight the benefits for them – free publicity, for one!

Also, keep the hyperbole to a minimum. Nothing turns people off more than sales spiel, so speak plain English and drop words like “market-leading” and “solution”.

Spread your wings

You could pitch the case study to a local publication, or vertical media outlet, depending on your target audience and the strength of the case study or customer brand. You could also build a page especially for case studies on your company website. If so, don’t forget to make sure that the text is optimised for your company’s keywords to help potential customers find you online.

Also, don’t forget to plug it on social media channels. Tweet the link to your website, or why not post it on Slideshare.net?

Here are some examples of customer case studies from corporations such as Xerox, Microsoft and Virgin Media Business. They vary greatly in style and format, from video to basic pdf.

If you’re worried that you’ve not got the right time or skills resources in-house to generate customer case studies then seek out a professional writer, it will pay off for you.

A war of words: who owns communications in 2010?

Whilst the roles of a PR and marketer are different at face value, there is little doubt that the two areas have considerable crossover, especially when it comes to social media.

Today, Vocus (a producer of “on-demand software for public relations management”) has circulated a white paper examining the merging roles of PR and marketing, and the debate surrounding who ‘owns’ social media.

For the white paper – ‘Blurring Lines, Turf Battles and Tweets: The Real Impact of Integrated Communications on Marketing and PR’ – Vocus surveyed 1,094 PR and marketing professionals last month about their experiences and views of ‘integrated communications’, which Vocus defines as:

“A management concept that ties all aspects of marketing communication, including, but not limited to advertising, search marketing, sales promotion, public relations and direct marketing, together to function in a unified and comprehensive fashion as opposed to functioning in isolation or silos.”

Blurred lines

The key findings suggest that the lines between PR and marketing are blurring, with 79% of marketing and PR professionals stating that they report to the same boss, and 78% reporting formal working relationships when it comes to creating a common communications strategy.

However, whilst the roles may overlap in some respects, 67% of respondents revealed that they hold cross-functional meetings only ‘sometimes’, with a further 19% stating that they held them ‘rarely’ or ‘never’.

Turf battles

The white paper also illustrates that ‘turf battles’ remain rife between marketing and PR professionals, with 33% citing that such conflicts are the single biggest barrier to creating an integrated communications strategy. Budget shortcomings were judged to be the next obstacle, with 20% of respondents highlighting this issue.

Who owns social media?

The concept of ‘turf battles’ is further developed when the debate about who ‘owns’ social media is examined. From the results of the white paper, it’s clear that there is no consensus, with 43% of PRs feeling that they should own it, and 35% of marketers saying the same for their profession. When it comes to corporate blogs, 38% of PRs feel that they should control them, whilst 24% of marketers feel that they should.

Integrated communications

Common ground was found when participants were questioned about the benefits of integrated communications and how to measure them. 48% of PRs and marketers reported that integrated communications increase the overall effectiveness of outreach programs, and that sales and ROI are the most effective ways of assessing an integrated communications strategy.

It’s debatable as to whether this paper reflects the overall experiences of the industry, but it certainly highlights a growing feeling that social media is driving a merging of marketing and PR roles. Similarly, whether this will be resolved into the ‘integrated communications strategies’ envisaged by Vocus remains to be seen, but with the level of conflict described above, it seems unlikely that it will happen any time soon.