It’s time to use the ‘C’ word (Sorry, Mum)

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I was raised by two Italian parents which meant that the use of any ‘colorful’ language was strictly OFF LIMITS.

Phrases like “Oh sugar!” were often used as a substitute.

Which brings me on to today’s topic, and the one word in the English language which for so long has been taboo in the professional world I operate in: the field of COMMUNICATIONS.

PR, Marketing, Advertising, Customer Service, Digital, Journalism, Branding – they are all based on the principals of the real ‘C’ word.

The re-emergence of ‘integration’ (especially in the fields of PR and Marketing)

The Vocus Whitepaper I read last night summed it up pretty well:

Integrated marketing and communications is the Holy Grail – and has been for several decades, and although it’s still seemingly idealistic, we have never been closer to achieving this goal. A confluence of measures and changes in the industry from a changing media landscape to social media and PR’s more central role in marketing, to the rise of reputation of management – the perfect storm of events has set the conditions to realize the objectives.

What does this mean? 

It means different things to different people, but it mainly comes back to where your interests lie, which is the problem and the solution.

The problem lies in our almost insatiable need to ‘categorise’ and ‘label’ everything we do / offer.

Hi, I’m Joe Bloggs and my agency specialises in digital media.

Hello, I’m Joanne Blabbs, and we just do offline PR.

Yep, Jeff Johnson here, and we strictly look after customer facing issues only.

I hate to spoil the party, but the end consumer doesn’t really care, and increasingly neither does the person charged with making the decisions that impact on the end consumer: Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs).

The CMO has always wanted complete COMMUNICATIONS solutions.

The problem has been that the disciplines within the discipline have continued to grow, creating silos internally and externally, making this virtually impossible.

Perhaps now, as each discipline gently bleeds into one another organically, we’ll see the ‘C’ word taken off the blacklist and given a VIP pass.

The people / agencies / departments that can, through approaching communications as a truly integrated piece, will be the ones CMOs will cherish more than anything over the next few years because that’s THE JOB THAT NEEDS DOING.

So, don’t be afraid to be someone who embodies the ‘C’ word…I can’t think of a more complimentary term in 2010.


*Just to clarify, beyond any doubt, the C with the asterix next to it refers to ‘communications’ – just in case my Mum reads this and interprets it slightly differently. Love you Mum.


  • Reply March 5, 2010

    Ben Bush

    Interesting. It was much easier to talk about my job when I was a journalist and then a PR. But when the PR role morphed into online PR, integrated marketing, consultancy, social media marketing…. it became far more complicated.

    Not sure the world is ready for “I’m in communications” yet, though. Sounds a bit like I’m trying to sell you a mobile phone.

  • Reply March 5, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Easier yes, correct today? I’m not sure. And that’s the point of the post. The modern communicator is a complex creature, but one that can add incredible value to an organisation.
    As for selling mobile phones…we probably will be one day 😉

  • Reply March 5, 2010

    Paul Sutton

    Personally, I couldn’t agree more. I’d go as far as to say we need the ‘F’ing C Word (sorry Adam’s, mum!) – Fully-integrated Communications.

    As you say, it’s a complex area, but the whole ‘silo’ effect and compartmentalised approach to marcomms is increasingly less relevant and less effective. What used to be distinctly different areas of an organisation (customer service and advertising, for example) now have a significant crossover.

    I don’t personally feel that integrated communications is ‘idealistic’ any more. I feel it’s achievable. But only if a given organisation believes that and is committed to making it work.

  • Reply March 5, 2010

    Andrew Drinkwater

    Interesting…but will you ever get round the basic conflict between marketing (persuasion in order to sell) and PR (inform in order to educate? I know the lines are blurring all the time but blatant sales messages still grate and stick out on Twitter for example. Some of them are almost embarassing in their crassness. Is that the message or the medium that’s causing this discord?

  • Reply March 5, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    The ‘bleeding’ will hopefully have positive impacts on both – we know that hard messages don’t work, so perhaps the fusing of mentalities will create a better, more modern form of communications practices?
    It would be easy to say the medium is causing the discord, but the same could be said for TV 60 years ago…but we adjusted to that.
    We’ll adjust to this, if we think audience first every time and target the appropriate channels second.

  • Reply March 5, 2010

    Maya Weier

    I totally agree, putting yourself as the client the reality of dealing with 4 people/companies to essentially deliver one service is not exactly efficient.

    Of course there are differentials between disciplines but as we use social media more as part of the whole mix, it will create a blend and that means that the right amount of each needs to be employed. There is a great deal of very poor attempts at using twitter where people are basically spamming with really poor content. There is an intelligent and respectful way to engage with the audience and it should be a two way street social media integration into the CRM can really only be positive. Communication is the essential cornerstone of a business and by amalgamating how it’s delivered leads you forward.

  • Reply March 8, 2010

    Frank Strong

    Very interesting take — silos within silos. I especially like the way your phrase the overlap as gently bleeds and ultimately your example of three different firms makes this quite clear. Thanks for the reference to the white paper and furthering the conversation.

  • Reply March 8, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    It was a great paper and stimulated a lot of thinking at my end – and thanks to Deirdre Breakenridge for the hat tip on this one.

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