For our latest PR director of the future blog, we felt it was time to get a marketer’s perspective. We talked to Martin Hill, Vice President of Marketing, International at leading ERP software vendor Epicor to find out about the value PR skills bring to his integrated marketing approach.
Martin leads a small, close-knit, team of international marketing and PR people whose combined task is to build and nurture the sales pipeline across a broad list of global territories. In Martin’s world traditional boundaries between marketing and PR don’t really apply. The way he sees it, PR is not only fundamental to awareness building but also an integral part of marketing campaign planning and execution.
Reputation matters at every stage of the buyer journey
“For us the campaign has to cover all the dimensions and that means reputation-building, demand generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement and building market intelligence,” explains Martin.
He continues: “Of course we need different tactics at each stage of the buying cycle, but reputation is a critical factor throughout, most critically at the early and late stages of awareness and selection..
“We need people to find us, but when they do find us, it is vital that we establish in their mind that we are a credible organisation and one that they want to do business with and PR can and should be making a huge contribution here.”
Martin makes the very valid point that PR is often over-looked by marketers as an excellent way of syndicating content, but he also goes way beyond this to ensure that prospects engage with his brand.
“PR’s story-telling skills are instrumental to ensure that every channel people use to inform themselves and collect information from has something of the Epicor story in it, something that will draw them into finding out more about us. We can’t just rely on banner ads and hoping people click on them. We are focusing on proactively getting our story out there, wherever they are looking.”
Bringing all the elements together
Martin clearly takes an integrated approach to marketing campaigns, but how easy is it to bring all the elements together?
“Actually getting everybody on board and talking to each other was the easy part for us. The hardest thing was actually doing it. There is so much that needs to be in place before the campaign kicks-off.
“Obviously you need the right technology platform in place, to manage workflow and measure success. You need web updates, internal and external, you may need collateral updates, sales material updates, briefing notes. You need content in multiple formats that has to be translated into multiple languages across lots of channels and you need the right technology to track the success of each element of the campaign.”
Measurement: it’s not just about attribution
Like most marketing people, Martin and his team need to demonstrate their value by delivering leads and while measurement is not an exact science it is one that he puts a lot of thought into:
“Web traffic is a big part of measurement. And while its clearly easier to measure the outcomes of paid activity than pure media coverage, I’m not a big believer in the attribution of leads to a single marketing tactic. It’s not what integrated marketing is all about. Most prospects have encountered Epicor more than once before they become an active opportunity and this should be taken into account when it comes to measurement. We’ve started to look at measures like pipeline influence.
PR practitioners need to be more proactive
Finally we asked Martin for his opinion about the ideal PR skillset for the PR director in the integrated environment:
“PR is definitely still a story-telling function, not just any story, but your Brand Story. I think in future, PR people will need to draw on a much broader context and become the custodian of the brand story, understanding the company and the environment in which it operates on a very detailed level and developing the messages, the stories and the themes that will help our audiences make a connection with us and clearly position our value to them. The PR director also needs to understand how the story will be translated into content that will engage buyers across lots of different types of media formats and channels.
“If PR isn’t just ‘give me a story and I’ll tell it’, then its practitioners need to be much more proactive. They need to be very visible within the organisation, talking to the business leaders, the campaign team, the product marketing team, and the digital and social teams. It’s a matter of making sure everyone understands and is connected to the same story, the Brand Story. It’s important that everyone is going down the same track together, or the brand message is confused. PR has a huge opportunity to be the owner of this process across the organisation.”
For more information on Wildfire’s ‘PR director of the future’ campaign, please visit: http://futuredirector.wildfirepr.com/