NEW YORK, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The growth of digital communication has created a new landscape where marketers lack control over what people say about their companies. The synchronization of brand reputation and brand image is more critical than ever, however, more than half (52 percent) of companies are not fully aligned between marketing and corporate communications, according to a survey of chief marketing officers (CMOs) released today by The CMO Club and Hill & Knowlton.
"CMOs quickly are trying to learn best practices and how to bring teams together to address the continually evolving digital communications landscape, which is driving unprecedented transparency between businesses and their audiences," said Pete Krainik, founder, The CMO Club. "In the course of learning, CMOs are challenged with new responsibilities not traditionally part of the marketing arena and many are solely responsible for delivering successful programs beyond the marketing departments."
"Alignment around all brand messages is especially critical in the increasingly multi-channel environment we find ourselves in. Marketing, selling, human resources and personal communications messages are all blending," said Lauri Kien Kotcher, Godiva, chief marketing officer and SVP of global brand development. "The number of touch points keeps growing with different timelines for message development, which also makes the challenge of maintaining consistency across key brand messages harder than ever."
CMOs who report the highest levels of alignment between corporate communications and marketing establish objective setting with blended and collective rewards. Firms where joint metrics and joint rewards systems have been created (66 percent) or joint objectives without joint rewards systems (71 percent) report much higher levels of being "fully aligned" compared to firms where objectives are not shared (31 percent) or where objectives are shared only for information purposes.
Further, CMOs who have formal yearly or half-yearly (68 percent) or monthly or quarterly meetings (65 percent), note higher levels of alignment than those with "ad hoc communications to monitor and review progress" (41 percent) or "ad hoc communications as issues arise" (30 percent).
Having an established communications plan to report progress of alignment between the groups helps to achieve the alignment goal. Sixty-six percent of companies with one in place report being "fully aligned" versus 32 percent of companies that only communicate on an ad hoc basis.
"Each external communication form is a marketing channel and must be managed that way. Today's savvy public is listening not only to overt messaging but also to the nuances of every communication – its style, emotion, design, tone, quality," said John DuPont, senior vice president, global brand management and strategic planning, RE/MAX. "Everything from advertising and collateral, media relations, conference content to webinars and e-mails reflect on a brand and influence image. The CMO must forge a truly collaborative environment to ensure consistency of all communications."
"With brand and reputation merging at a fast rate, consistent messaging and alignment of marketing and corporate communications is absolutely necessary," said MaryLee Sachs, US chairman and worldwide director, marketing communications, Hill & Knowlton. "Audiences are able to access a range of information at any time and easily can pick up on inconsistencies."
CMOs Stand Alone – Shouldering Responsibility
When it comes to collaboration, a majority of CMOs are tackling activities that are traditionally considered outside of their core job description. For instance, 52 percent of CMOs say they are solely responsible for crisis/issues management, 34 percent for investor relations, 23 percent for employee communications, 66 percent for media relations, and 55 percent for blogger relations.
When it comes to sole responsibility, 74 percent of CMOs at pure business-to-business companies report they are responsible for blogger relations compared to 41 percent of CMOs at pure business-to-consumer companies, and 71 percent of business-to-business CMOs are guiding the strategy and implementation of crisis/issues management compared to 25 percent of their consumer-facing counterparts. Other comparisons of sole responsibility in ancillary activities include employee communications (31 percent versus nine percent), investor relations (47 percent versus 16 percent) and customer relationship management (59 percent versus 34 percent).
CMO Insights Survey
Employees as Brand Ambassadors: An Underused Resource
While having employees serve as brand ambassadors is viewed as valuable and vital, only a small group of companies currently have a fully established program to engage them as such. In the survey, 70 percent of CMOs report they do not have an active employee engagement program. Nearly half (46 percent) report they are working on developing a program and 17 percent were not working on a program at all, but plan to work on one at some stage.
Fifty-eight percent of CMOs report that marketing spearheads efforts to galvanize employees, while 19 percent note these efforts are led by corporate communications, eight percent by human resources and 16 percent by a blended team that includes marketing. Forty-five percent of CMOs at business-to-business companies report having a program already in place for employees, versus 16 percent for business to consumer.
About the Survey
The survey was conducted online with 129 chief marketing officers in The CMO Club responding between May 25, 2010 and June 20, 2010.
About CMO Club
The CMO Club (TheCMOclub.com) was created for the unique purpose of bringing chief marketing officers together in an environment of openness and contribution that enables them to become better at what they do. Tailored exclusively to top marketing executives, this club hosts dinners and events, shares reports and research from leaders in the marketing industry, and leverages the first online network for "CMOs only" for sharing ideas, helping each other, and serving as a resource for CMO career opportunities. The CMO Club was founded in 2007 by seasoned marketing executive Pete Krainik and currently has more than 700 members.
About Hill & Knowlton
Hill & Knowlton, Inc. is a leading international communications consultancy, providing services to local, multinational and global clients. The firm is headquartered in New York, with 79 offices in 44 countries, as well as an extensive associate network. The agency is part of WPP, one of the world's largest communications services groups.
SOURCE Hill & Knowlton