Use communications to shape brand strategy

The UK is a “go-to” nation for best practice in marketing, according to a World Federation of Advertisers poll of senior marketers from global brands last week. While many of the planet’s largest companies are based in the US, brands are increasingly looking to smaller markets such as Britain for marketing inspiration.

This view comes as no surprise to me. I am constantly being made aware of the activity and enthusiasm of the UK marketing industry. When last week’s cover story asked if marketing itself needed a rebrand, the industry leapt into action across our website and Twitter to debate the issues.

As Kate Popay tweeted: “Loving the rebrand marketing idea. It’s funny as marketers we live and breathe branding but haven’t branded what we do very well.”

It was notable in the debate surrounding this issue how open UK marketers are to change. One interesting comment came from Neil Hopkins, who tweeted that rather than talking solely about marketing, it should all be looked at more holistically. He advocates: “Customer-centric communications.”

This idea of taking a more holistic view of business strategy is the theme of our new quarterly section, PR Strategy (online later today). It looks at how communications can be used as a strategic tool for organisations, rather than simply as a way of shouting about activity once it has been decided.

These days, the smart brands are hiring communications specialists who understand every aspect of what the organisation is trying to achieve. They are not only mouthpieces; they are strategic brand partners, working with marketers to develop effective ways of operating that boost the bottom line.

As part of PR Strategy, we talk to Ian Wright, corporate relations director at Diageo, whose role not only allows him to oversee communications but also positions him as a leader at the top of the organisation. As Wright puts it: “The central plank of the job is that I’m responsible for Diageo’s reputation.”

With exclusive research from the Public Relations Consultants Association showing that 18% of PR professionals get no access to the chief executive at their organisation, it is clear that Diageo is forward-thinking in truly integrating communications with its overall corporate strategies.

The UK may be one of the leaders in marketing best practice, but there is still room for improvement. Using PR in the most effective and inspirational manner possible is one way for brands to take the lead; next week, in another new section – CMO Strategy – we’ll be offering even more insight and trends to help put you ahead of your rivals. Now that’s something worth communicating.

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