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Countering internal PR ‘turf battles’: Sachs

By Maha Obeid in Marcoms News on

International author and speaker MaryLee Sachs believes organisations need to have a clear reporting structure for PR.

Sachs, who will be a presenter at the PRIA Directions national conference in October 2011, told Influencing her experience of siloed organisations where PR has traditionally reported up through the CEO, COO, Legal or HR presents a challenge for the industry.

“Marketers are seeing the importance of reputation to brand, and are trying to make a land grab in many cases. I'm not advocating for any one correct structure. So much depends on the variables such as the specific organisation's challenges, objectives and priorities; type of business and category landscape; and geographic reach. Historical silos, culture, personalities and budgets also play factors, or can be hindrances in affecting change in organizations,” Sachs explained.

Sachs, a former Worldwide Director of Consumer Marketing at Hill & Knowlton, has more than 25 years of integrated marketing experience in the US and internationally.

In July, her book ‘The Changing MO of the CMO, How the Convergence of Brand and Reputation is Affecting Marketers’ was launched, drawing on the experiences of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) from 10 global organisations.

Her research will form part of the agenda at her Masterclass at PRIA Directions on 23 October. She believes the PR industry needs to find the best way of working together with the CMO and marketing team to achieve the optimum results against common business objectives.

“Part of that will require PR agencies and practitioners to understand a new language – that of the marketer, and to find some common ground between the traditional practice of marketing and that of public relations. Much of the success of working together also will depend on how open and flexible both sides are,” Sachs said.

The Masterclass will include practical tips about achieving success in global marketing, looking at the effect of convergence of brand and reputation on senior marketers as they consider how they go to market. 

“Specifically, I'll be talking about how to work more closely with your marketing counterparts to maximise the opportunities presented by a greater contribution of PR to the marketing mix,” Sachs said.

Sachs, who was a juror for the PR Category in its inaugural year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2009, believes Australia is making its mark at the PR Lions.

“I think that the fact that Australia has won two of the first three PR Grand Prix Awards suggests that Australia is a highly creative market. Generally across all of the PR awards, Australia together with the US, UK and Sweden seemed to perform best, although Latin American countries are beginning to provide stiffer competition.”

Sachs believes the PR industry is in a good position to handle the global economic uncertainty.

We might be somewhat better off than other marketing disciplines but I fear we still don't do enough in terms of demonstrating real business ROI to most of our colleagues or clients,” Sachs concluded.

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