September 26 2016

The next PR summit taking place on Tuesday 22 November 2016 will be a meeting ground for marketing communications and corporate communications. These may be two apparently opposing and occasionally complementary disciplines, but today they are more and more encouraged to talk to each other and to elaborate strategies together, in the face of consumers who are increasingly becoming citizens and citizens who are increasingly becoming con- sumers….

Marketing communications and corporate communications have not always sat easily together. The caricature of the vacuum cleaner or washing powder salesman has persisted throughout the years, as has that of the “spin doctor” in a three-piece suit, twisting information.



It is true that the two disciplines convey different messages, even if they come from the same organisations or businesses…A priori, marketing communications and corporate communications target distinct sectors of the public. Corporate messaging is structured in such a way as to transmit the attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and objectives of the organisation communicating, whilst marketing messages are intended to inform a public of consumers about the availability of a product or service.




Yet the two disciplines are moving closer and closer together: considering the economic reality as it is, businesses are always thinking in consumerist terms in the back of their mind, even if they are communicating as institutions. You communicate to employees so they become brand ambassadors, to the political sphere so it reinforces the regulatory and legislative foundation beneath the products and services you want to sell, towards “key opinion leaders” who are considered examples to follow for consumers in need of role models and reassurance.



Equally, consumers are also citizens, and « marketeers » can no longer skate over pressure from residents, public opinion or pressure groups. Any product or service, however insignificant it appears, can provoke a tsunami through social media. An energy supplier who has more success selling products because they are “Belgian and green” will be pilloried from one day to the next if idealist or activist customers suspect they have been the victims of “green-washing”; a bank suspected of immoral activities in some exotic paradise will lose its credit with its client base; the telecommunications provider who has abused a big press or “show-biz” personality will also see the finger pointed at them.




“Marketeers” and “corporate” communicators are therefore being increasingly forced to listen to each other. And some of them do it with joy and success.


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