I started my career in the late 2000s as a traditional public relations professional. I spent my first several years in the industry researching media, creating media lists, developing story ideas and pitching reporters. The scopes of our client programs were largely limited to building brand awareness through media. At that point, “influencers” weren’t on our radar and TikTok was just the faint sound you heard on wristwatches.
Fast-forward to today, and my team’s work comprises a wide mix of marketing activities – from digital promotion to social media advertising to content strategy. Traditional PR and media relations is still in the mix, but it’s just one component of the larger, comprehensive marketing programs we carefully craft to help our clients achieve their business goals.
In this world where lines are blurred between marketing disciplines, it’s incumbent on marketing leaders to break down silos and create multidisciplinary teams that collaborate to drive results. The goals of a marketing team will be comprehensive and cross-functional. But if silos persist in the organization, it will be difficult to maximize the impact of any of their efforts. For example, the PR team may be earning great media coverage, but is the digital team touting that coverage on the website? Digital ad analytics may reveal an opportunity for a particular product line, but is the social media team working to capitalize on that opportunity?
Here are some ways marketing leaders can break down silos and build strong multidisciplinary teams:
Create a dashboard to unite data: Website data, social media metrics, subscription numbers from media publications. All these data streams can feed into the holistic measurement of a marketing effort. Marketing teams must bring these datapoints together and create usable dashboards that help them access a single source of marketing truth.
Before creating a marketing dashboard, the team must understand the company’s business goals and identify the marketing datapoints that will help it measure progress toward those goals. So, ongoing testing and analysis is an inherent part of the effort. The team must continually fine-tune the dashboard to ensure it captures all relevant datapoints and provides valuable insights. Creating a dashboard can be the starting point a team needs to break down barriers between disciplines and understand the impact of its marketing activities.
Bring multidisciplinary teams together: With data organized and dashboards in place, it’s important to get people in the same room (even if it’s a virtual room), reviewing the data and brainstorming ideas for how to improve on key metrics. Even on small teams, it’s easy to cordon off media relations, social media, digital and other marketing efforts. Marketing leaders must combat this tendency and push people together, using the dashboard as the centerpiece of the discussion, and then ask smart questions. For example, high-level questions such as:
- What are the business goals we hope to achieve?
- What does the data tell us about our progress?
- Are we missing any metrics we need to assess performance?
But, also, next-level questions:
- Which audience segments show the most potential for growth?
- Who is interacting with our content and how does that align with what we know about our customers and business priorities?
- How can we better reach demographics we haven’t successfully engaged?
These discussions, rooted in real-life data, can help the team generate new, creative ideas, revise strategy, where needed, and allocate resources to the most high-potential activities.
Master the fundamentals: There’s a lot that’s new and flashy in marketing. But without a strong grasp on the fundamentals of writing, data organization and critical thought, a team will be all talk and no action. The ability to write in a concise and engaging manner will remain a differentiator for marketing professionals (yes, even in the era of AI). The ability to organize and analyze a diverse range of datapoints is essential, as well. And the ability to think critically and look around the bend to anticipate challenges will always be crucial.
Marketing teams need to stay up to speed on emerging technologies and the latest industry trends. But they also need to spend time building the skills that will remain vital no matter what tools enter the marketing stack.
A marketing leader’s business responsibility
A lot has changed since I started my career. Today, influencers are ubiquitous. Activity on an ever-expanding field of social media platforms drives conversations around the world. And brands execute a wide mix of digital marketing tactics to raise awareness and generate growth. The days of executing traditional PR programs seem quaint by comparison.
With the broader scope of marketing programs today, leaders have more of an opportunity to make a meaningful business impact than they did in the past. They also have more responsibility. They must ensure every marketing dollar they spend helps the company make progress toward achieving its business goals. To do this effectively, all the members of a marketing team must work in concert, executing a sound strategy, closely monitoring data and then reacting strategically to what the data shows. To increase the business impact of marketing efforts, break down silos.