Signs That CMOs Should Reexamine Their Company’s Approach to PR

posted on July 08, 2024
Signs That CMOs Should Reexamine Their Company’s Approach to PR

In describing marketing best practices, Steve Jobs advised us to “Master the topic, the message, and the delivery.” Said another way, marketing ain’t bean bag! 

Consider that at any given time, marketing is a function responsible for managing a company’s brand along with the reputation of its executives, products, and services. It must also ensure that all spokespersons are aligned on the same priorities and communicate from approved messages. Marketing must balance the proactive with the reactive across company content that is earned, owned, paid, and shared.

Atop any company’s marketing efforts are CMOs who know they’re only as effective as the wins their team puts on the board.

No News Can Travel As Fast as Bad News

Unfortunately, CMOs sometimes find themselves alone at the bottom of a metaphorical hill, far away from the industry zeitgeist, where brands languish. Too often, the absence of brand momentum can be more noticeable than when a company is leading all others in marketing’s coveted share of voice (SoV) metric.  The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a highly infectious condition. Regardless of where it starts, eventually, it will spread to employees, the C-Suite, investors, as well as partners and customers.

The questions begin innocently… 

“Did you happen to see that article? Interesting that we weren’t included”  

However, if the trend continues, concerned colleagues can quickly become marketing critics with a tone that follows suit… 

“There was another piece published about our competitors; why aren’t we a part of these stories and what is marketing doing to get us in these headlines?”

Ebbs and flows in a company’s brand image are natural. When, for example, resources are prioritized towards R&D to take a new company direction or to launch into a new product category, it’s natural to have a lull in brand activity. Change in company leadership or M&A activity can lead to the same. 

Be it a Groundswell or a Top-Down Initiative – Tips to Revive and Thrive

CMOs fearing brand oblivion have a menu of choices to reverse a slide and put a company’s fortunes back on track. It begins by understanding that success is a shared outcome. A compelling product or a provocative spokesperson can be just the thing to ignite excitement in others to join in and take action. 

While CMOs can encourage and even cajole others in the organization to “grab an oar and row” it is best for the long term that they come to the role of brand ambassador organically. One of the quickest ways to create the conditions for brand momentum is through earned content actioned by your public relations team.

Working under the guidance of the CMO, PR teams are experts at creating opportunities for brands. With their nose for news, they can quickly spot ideas that suddenly become campaigns that can last days, weeks, and even months. If they’re not maintaining a competitive SoV, PR teams have the skills to turn the tide on a lagging brand – and that’s just the beginning of what’s possible.

CMOs that promote the importance of consistent and ongoing brand management among peers and across the company set a course for what is expected of everyone. The same infectiousness that can keep a brand down can also be harnessed to elevate it. The best PR teams love to capitalize on these feelings of goodwill to uncover new stories about untold innovation, customer outcomes, and product roadmaps.  

Follow the Passion

Tapping into the issues that excite business leaders can often lead to great outcomes. PR professionals pay particular notice to subjects that CEOs are passionate about as they can often dovetail with the overall business objectives. 

A CEO with an interest in a fast-moving subject like AI, for example, can become a sought-after expert for the flurry of journalists writing about its development at the highest levels of business. Equally, leaders with a penchant for deciphering the stock market’s performance or decisions from the Federal Reserve can become the explainers in chief for trade, finance, and high-visibility media outlets.

In the end, marketing is a team sport with distinct roles and responsibilities. As the brand’s team captain, CMOs must be the ones to assess the readiness of company leaders and employees to get involved. They must also evaluate the PR team’s ability to generate ideas and execute goals that are consistent with the company’s goals. 

With a marketing team on its toes, there will be lots of activity in the pipeline to anticipate and nurture. Even still, the job of promoting success falls to everyone, especially leaders across the company who must be encouraged to actively promote their shared success.

When Brand Momentum Stalls: 7 Ways CMOs Can Reinvigorate PR

In describing marketing best practices, Steve Jobs advised us to “Master the topic, the message, and the delivery.” Said another way, marketing ain’t bean bag! 

It’s actually quite the opposite. Marketing is a multifaceted beast, tasked with managing a company’s brand, reputation, and messaging across owned, earned, paid, and shared channels. It’s a balancing act of proactive planning and reactive agility. For Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), success hinges on their team’s ability to maintain and amplify the brand’s voice in an ever-evolving landscape. However, sometimes, that voice can fade into a whisper, replaced by the deafening silence of missed opportunities and lost momentum.

The Domino Effect of Silence

The absence of brand visibility can be glaring especially when competitors are dominating the conversation. It begins with innocent questions from colleagues, a ripple of concern that can quickly swell into a tsunami of criticism if left unchecked.  This “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) is contagious, spreading from employees to the C-suite, investors, partners, and even customers. While ebbs and flows in brand awareness are natural, prolonged silence can be detrimental. It can erode trust, stifle growth, and ultimately impact the bottom line.

The good news? CMOs have a toolkit at their disposal to reverse this downward spiral. The first step is recognizing that successful brand building is a team effort. It starts with a compelling product or service, a captivating spokesperson, and a motivated team ready to champion the brand. But how do you get there? One of the most effective strategies is harnessing the power of earned media through a strong PR team.

PR: The Catalyst for Brand Momentum

PR professionals are experts at identifying newsworthy angles, crafting compelling narratives, and securing media coverage that amplifies your brand’s message. They can quickly transform a simple idea into a full-fledged campaign that generates buzz and captures attention.

To cultivate a culture of brand advocacy, CMOs must champion the importance of consistent and ongoing brand management across the company. 

Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Lead by Example: CMOs should embody the brand’s values and messaging in their own communication and actions, demonstrating passion and enthusiasm for the company’s mission, products, and achievements.
  2. Develop a Clear Brand Narrative: Create a compelling brand story that resonates with employees and stakeholders. This narrative should highlight the company’s mission, values, unique selling propositions, and overall impact.
  3. Communicate Consistently: Ensure that all internal and external communications align with the brand narrative. This includes everything from company-wide emails and internal newsletters to social media posts and marketing materials.
  4. Showcase Leadership Expertise: Identify and amplify the unique passions and expertise of company leaders. Position them as thought leaders in their respective fields by securing speaking engagements, media interviews, and bylined articles in relevant publications.
  5. Empower Employees: Provide employees with the tools, resources, and training they need to become effective brand advocates. Encourage them to share their personal experiences and expertise related to the company’s products or services on social media and other platforms. Acknowledge and reward employees who actively promote the brand, whether through social media shares, positive reviews, or referrals.
  6. Foster a Sense of Community: Organize company events, team-building activities, and other opportunities for employees to connect with each other and feel proud to be part of the company culture.  Encourage employees to share their feedback and ideas on how to improve the brand. This will make them feel heard and invested in the brand’s success.
  7. Measure and Track Progress: Implement a system to track and measure brand advocacy efforts, such as social media mentions, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction surveys. This data can be used to identify areas for improvement and demonstrate the ROI of brand advocacy initiatives.

Marketing is a Team Sport, and the CMO is the Coach

By assessing the readiness of your team, empowering your PR professionals, and fostering a culture of brand advocacy, you can reignite the spark and propel your company to new heights.  Remember, a strong brand is built on a foundation of collaboration, passion, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.