Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 16, 2012

The Integration of Public Relations: Can’t We All Just Get Along

Join the discussion about how marketing and public relations are merging during their session “The Integration of Public Relations: Can’t We All Just Get Along?” on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 12:30–1:45 p.m. PDT, during the PRSA 2012 International Conference in San Francisco. You’ll hear from:

  • Jennifer Brown, Senior Marketing Manager, Social, HSN
  • Gina Luttrell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Eastern Michigan University
  • Ryan Schram, Chief Marketing Officer, IZEA

The introduction of social has created a watershed moment for PR practitioners who must now be intimate partners with their marketing counterparts.

According to Gina Luttrell, Ph.D., assistant professor at Eastern Michigan University, social has changed how disciplines throughout a company work together. “Social media is like water that’s seeping into every area nook of an organization — public relations, marketing, customer service, sales, legal and human resources. There is no part of a business that is untouched.”

Gone are the days when we can sit in silos and hope the other department goes away — or fight them for a piece of the budget. Successful organizations rely on significant cross-functional teamwork, if not full integration.

Such is the case with public relations, where executives want to see a more holistic approach to branding — both internally and externally. A year ago, Marylee Sachs noted for the Institute of Public Relations, “For CCOs and in-house departments, there is a movement towards CMOs owning public relations.”

The question is not if, but when will these functions merge? Savvy professionals can get ahead of the curve by embracing basic change leadership behaviors:

  • Accept change: The marketing business model is changing and successful professionals in the future will be able to adapt quickly.
  • Dare the status quo: Especially in your own pr department, where resistance to change might be high.
  • Act continuously: Consider your actions constantly and also look for opportunities to create great integration across departments.
  • Participate personally: Show the behaviors and partnerships others can shadow.
  • Tear down boundaries: Be a leader in welcoming and educating marketing into the public relations fold and reach out to them to learn.

Jennifer P. Brown most recently was named senior marketing manager for social media at HSN in St. Petersburg, Fla. Her career includes independent consulting, start-up public relations and strategic communications at large companies including General Motors, Limited Brands and Safelite AutoGlass. You can connect with her on Twitter, @jenniferpbrown.

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