LONDON—Public relations people need to learn to speak the language of marketers, who “love data, love numbers, and love charts,” Unilever head of global hair care PR Heather Mitchell told the EMEA In2 Innovation Summit in London this morning. But PR people also need to help their marketing clients think like public relations people: “We were trained to think like journalists and that’s even more important now.”

Mitchell was speaking on a panel, sponsored by Weber Shandwick, focused on “Cracking Content to Commerce: The CMO Challenge.”

Moderating the discussion, Weber Shandwick’s EMEA region CEO Colin Byrne had cited his agency’s chief communications officer research, which most recently showed a 30% increase in the number of CCOs taking responsibility for advertising and marketing, and suggested that “the age of the CMO-CCO is here.” As a result, he suggested, “We have to move beyond brand awareness to brand transformation and to sales.”

Charlotte Witte, a partner at Weber Shandwick’s Prime, agreed that the marketing function of being disrupted and said: “We are seeing a new type of CMO who is part of the growth and innovation agenda for a company. They are becoming chief growth officers. And it is one of our challenges to help them in that new role. As a PR firm, we have such a broad competence in understanding the business, the media environment, and society as a whole, I think we can play a big role in that.”

Marcus Dyer, managing director of mobile and digital consultancy Flipside, agreed. “We have always played in content, but commerce was always slightly disparate. But those two hemispheres are now being smashed together on platforms like Facebook where you can go from viewing a video to purchasing the product with the touch of your thumb. We have to think about how we reshape the content for that environment.”

As an example, he cited a series of content pieces created by Diageo, 20-minute films that air on Amazon Prime and are built around the spirits’ companies “World Class” bartender training initiative. “They can now link that content to Prime Now so you can have product delivered to your home within an hour of watching the show,” said Dyer.

Added Ben Wood, director of agencies at Facebook, “We want to bring the point of engagement and the point of transaction much closer together. It’s a journey that agencies of every type need to come on.”

But Mitchell was optimistic about what public relations can deliver in this changing environment: “Content means a lot of things to a lot of people. Everyone is trying to land grab a little bit and take ownership of content. We really feel that the best content comes from people outside the brand. People want to hear from influencers, not from us. Reporters and bloggers and influencers are credible, they are considered experts. We focus on partnering with the right people and—particularly in fashion—making it easier for consumers to click to buy.”