As far as buzzwords go, “integrated communications” is clearly in the limelight. Though the term is sometimes alluded to as a new crucial trend, this isn’t exactly a new concept. PR professionals should realize that doing integrated communications is the very essence of Public Relations. It’s no novelty; rather it’s reassessment of what is more relevant than ever in this field: the need to keep a constant attention to all channels that can be used to reach the audience, and to develop the best strategies for tying everything together by relying the right people across different fields.
What is the Meaning of Doing Integrated Communications?
Simply put, “Integrated” means communicating across different channels. This is best achieved by tapping into a multi-layered team of experts, whose members may or may not be aware of the roles of other team members. At the head of this communication must be the PR manager, who is responsible for organizing the body of work. All while understanding the needs of the organization or firm and orchestrating the best strategies to secure communication with the public.
A campaign that relies on integrated communications will necessarily require different types of professionals to handle the different aspects of the work. There could be someone responsible for social media, another person in charge of SEO, someone to handle written content production, a web designer, a graphic designer and so forth.
It could stretch out to encompass many other fields, since Integrated Communications is not just about harnessing the power of the Internet, but rather to figure out all the relevant tools across all the available channels, whether off-line, off-line or anywhere in between.
Why are Joined up Comms so relevant now?
We live in a time where new communication channels have been furiously flourishing; where the communication habits of the masses are going through massive, drastic shifts. As such, it’s more important now than ever for the seasoned PR professional to watch out for these new ways of reaching an audience. That is ultimately the entire point of any Public Relations campaign - to connect an organization with an audience and keep a dialogue going that benefits everyone involved.
What are the new challenges for PR firms?
The emphasis on doing integrated communications presents new opportunities and challenges for modern PR. First and foremost, it calls for the deployment of multi-discipline teams. Modern PR firms must keep different types of specialists on board, to remain competitive. Long are the days when Public Relations specialists were expected to be generic “Jack of All Trades”, handling a bit of everything in the course of a campaign.
Here is the biggest challenge in modern Public Relations: learning how to integrate different teams into a unified communication plan. Whereas in simpler days PR was conceived as a full body of communication, it now must assume the role of a plotting head controlling a multi-discipline body. Are you ready to fully integrate this paradigm shift?
Mark Knight is a Director at Four Broadgate the London PR agency, specialists in financial services public relations amongst many other services.