Round Table Report: Marketing and PR – are you professionally curious?

Digitalisation is changing marketing and PR forever, but is your business ready to invest in using the latest data to get your message across to a new audience? Our latest round table panel – made up of marketing and PR experts from across the East Midlands discussed the benefits of a targeted approach.

With thanks to Works Social for hosting.

Lance Hill – Eight Days a Week Print Solutions
Bev Cook – Simple Marketing Consultancy
Chris Skeggs – The Dairy
Charlie Whyman – Curious B2B Marketing
Katie Ford, Jennie Holland PR
Natalie Fox, The Nottingham
Greg Simpson, Press for Attention PR
Rachel Axten, V Formation
Grace Golden, Purpose Media

On how marketing changed over the last two years; and whether the drive towards digitisation been fully embraced.

Lance Hill: What we’ve seen is the blend of the multichannel – there’s definitely been a massive shift. Digital media? we’ve all embraced it – but it’s a mixed bag of who has embraced it best. As we come out of the pandemic and marketing budgets get bigger we’ll be seeing multichannel marketing come back. It’s now all about who is using data best – it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Katie Ford: Digitalisation has changed how we carry out personalisation in marketing. Probably one of the biggest things that has changed is transparency. People do a lot of research now – especially from a cultural point of view when they’re looking to recruit, for example.

Natalie Fox: Digitalisation has given brands the chance to set the narrative; there are now so many of other ways to communication with audience. But the flipside is there is so much noise to break through. It’s a double-edged sword.

Grace Golden: Messaging so much more direct now – brands are doing all the targeting they can do, and they want to know what they’re going to get back from it.

Greg Simpson: People now know they don’t need to be famous to everyone. Now you can work out what you want to say and to whom.

Charlie Whyman: When pandemic first hit it was a bit of free for all. We were all attending digital events; now we’re still in this weird hybrid era where people haven’t really worked out where they want to be. Marketing isn’t just about promotion and selling – different people interact in different mediums in different ways.

On whether business owners are now more marketing-savvy than ever before?

Simpson: I think it’s really important that everyone in the company knows what the message is.

Fox: Agreed – aligning messages internally is really important. And that message needs to be suitable across different channels.

On whether marketing messages are changing.

Hill: Some are. I’ve learned a lot and looked at other channels. In last two years we’ve got a lot slicker in our marketing. For an SME it’s about having partner to help you get where you want to be.

Golden: Business owners are more experienced and have experimented a lot more, but perhaps don’t know how to get to where they need to be. Sometimes you still have to steer them to that place.

Chris Skeggs: In agency setting there’s an attitude where you have to be good at everything. Skill sets are becoming saturated across the board. It’s about getting the right people on board.

Bev Cook: I’ve been sacked before for pushing back on a client, when what they wanted me to push out was very obviously a sales PR piece. You have to take pride in what you’re doing – we cannot compromise integrity.

Rachel Axten: It’s about trying to communicate that without saying it. Business owners do have top line knowledge, but for us it’s about controlling the narrative.

Skeggs: There’s often a reluctance from business owners as they want results to come straight away – and sometimes they don’t come straight away; it’s cyclical.

On the message to those business owners who are still cynical about marketing and PR?

Hill: Test your marketing message. Data has become slicker, so test and learn. See what works for the business. If you don’t invest in it you’re never going to learn.

Simpson: Be professionally curious about marketing and PR. It’s all about where you start from and how do you measure the outcome.

Whyman: I think it’s about showing what success looks like – and setting benchmarks. Look at what the business needs at that point.

Axten: We find that the best approach towards clients is to break down a marketing and PR strategy into bitesize chunks – that way they’re not overwhelmed.