Chief communications officers and chief marketing officers continue to battle over the “ownership” of social media, according to results from a new national survey of senior-level marketing and communications professionals, conducted by Makovsky, an independent integrated communications firm.
While nearly 86 percent of those surveyed said that CCOs and CMOs do work well together on more traditional corporate and brand identity programs, more than 74 percent cited responsibility for social media as an area in which they fail to collaborate effectively. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of the respondents felt that marketing and public relations departments were successful at collaboration on content and thought leadership strategies and tactics.

“Social strategy and activation is an organization-wide imperative,” says Tim Kane, executive vice president and head of the digital branding practice at Makovsky. “Instead of feeling stifled by corporate structural barriers, there is a real opportunity for CMOs and CCOs to work together to lead organizational alignment.

“From the C-Suite to front-line employees, CMOs and CCOs must shepherd a unified social media direction, create a sense of ownership across the organization and demonstrate the unmatched power of social for internal collaboration and innovation as well as external visibility and customer engagement.” 

When asked what marketing leaders can learn from their public relations colleagues, 85 percent cited “the power of storytelling and thought leadership.” A strong majority of respondents (83 percent) also felt that the marketing function should take heed that corporate reputation is the consequence of authentic behavior of the entire organization.

“The most effective CMOs understand engaging stories that translate company values and elicit emotion always win out,” says Kane. “Today’s ‘authenticity mandate’ has only intensified in the social era, where dialogue between company and external stakeholder has multiplied – in real-time.”

The respondents felt that public relations must rely more heavily on data to demonstrate ROI. When asked what public relations can learn from marketing, 79 percent said that “data and analytics must shape decision-making,” and more than 63 percent said that public relations must “add quantifiable value.”

Says Kane: “While Public Relations as an industry has long grappled with communications strategies grounded in strong foundational research, the marketing organization historically is simply more comfortable using data to inform campaigns and the measurement of results for their C-suite counterparts.  Rigorous analytics empowers communicators to better understand relevant audience segments, benchmark programs from the onset and measure their ability to influence audience segments.”

When asked what has stimulated the move toward greater collaboration between corporate marketing and public relations departments, the answer was overwhelmingly about sales. Nearly 79 percent said that the “growing impact of reputation on consumers’ buying decisions” was the primary impetus, and 67 percent cited the “increased voice of consumers” thanks to the growth of conversations on social media.

The findings of the survey formed the basis of a panel discussion led by Kane at the recent Global Public Relations Summit in Miami.