15 December 2011

Marketing and Public Relations Continue to Converge

Marketing and Public Relations continue to converge.

This week Johnson & Johnson promoted Michael Sneed to VP—Global Corporate Affairs. What’s significant about this news is that Sneed will oversee both Marketing and Public Relations, which in many companies are totally separate or even siloed from one another. J&J needs to coordinate them, however, given the backlash from recent recalls of Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and some other products. In those crises J&J learned an object lesson on how Social Media is a big force driving the convergence of Marketing and Public Relations.

Don’t Wait for a Crisis

It shouldn’t take a crisis to make companies consider this approach. The very existence of Social Media can accelerate word-of-mouth conversation, whether it’s bad or good for a company, brand or product. Keeping Public Relations close to Marketing can help raise marketers’ sensitivity to what’s being said. Recently I met with one of our U.S. clients, a VP—Marketing, who has the corporate communications people in his department and right down the hall. (He may be an integration all-star because he also shares his own office with the VP—Sales.)

A Seat at the Table

In one of the articles about J&J’s Michael Sneed, there is a negative note. Although Sneed will report to J&J’s CEO, he will not be a member of the executive committee. I’m not going to rant about how Marketing needs to be in the center of things – although it crossed my mind. The bigger question is why a company that had to shut down the Tylenol factory, pay over a hundred million dollars in settlements and defend against numerous lawsuits didn’t learn enough from the experience to keep external communications front and center.

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