22/11/2016 - Belgian PR summit
Yearly event organized by BPRCA and 3C
Marketing communications and corporate communications have not always sat easily together. The caricature of the vacuum cleaner or washing powder salesman has persisted throughout the years, as has that of the “spin doctor” in a three-piece suit, twisting information.
It is true that the two disciplines convey different messages, even if they come from the same organisations or businesses…A priori, marketing communications and corporate communications target distinct sectors of the public. Corporate messaging is structured in such a way as to transmit the attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and objectives of the organisation communicating, whilst marketing messages are intended to inform a public of consumers about the availability of a product or service.
Yet the two disciplines are moving closer and closer together: considering the economic reality as it is, businesses are always thinking in consumerist terms in the back of their mind, even if they are communicating as institutions. You communicate to employees so they become brand ambassadors, to the political sphere so it reinforces the regulatory and legislative foundation beneath the products and services you want to sell, towards “key opinion leaders” who are considered examples to follow for consumers in need of role models and reassurance.
Equally, consumers are also citizens, and « marketeers » can no longer skate over pressure from residents, public opinion or pressure groups. Any product or service, however insignificant it appears, can provoke a tsunami through social media. An energy supplier who has more success selling products because they are “Belgian and green” will be pilloried from one day to the next if idealist or activist customers suspect they have been the victims of “green-washing”; a bank suspected of immoral activities in some exotic paradise will lose its credit with its client base; the telecommunications provider who has abused a big press or “show-biz” personality will also see the finger pointed at them.
“Marketeers” and “corporate” communicators are therefore being increasingly forced to listen to each other. And some of them do it with joy and success.
The summit will be pretty busy and intense. It will be a well filled afternoon with keynote speeches, followed by workshops during which you'll be able to work in depth on several topics. The academic part of the summit will end with a general session. Afterwards you will be able to enjoy a walking dinner, during which there will be ample possibilities to do some quality networking.
The panel “business to product” will host speakers from companies and organizations that bring products to the market and to their target publics. How do they react when consumers or citizens suddenly start to criticize one of their products in the press or in social media ? Do they respond with hard marketing and advertising, or do they prefer to use generic communication and smart PR ? Have they a plan to anticipate? And do their marketing and communications responsible can work smoothly and rapidly together as one team to build and launch a new product, and keep it as a strong corporate and commercial brand in the market ? And this last question is probably the main question : can marketing and communication work as one team in all circumstances, how difficult these may be? Many more questions will be asked and solidly answered during the panel discussions, not only between the panel members but also with the audience.
In the Business to Service sector, one speaks of customers rather than consumers. Although crucial, they represent a much smaller stakeholder group. Traditionnally, communicators active in the business to service sector do not have “customers” in their stakeholdergroup to look after. However, as businesses gets tough, a new service will also need to be “marketed” and “positioned”, just like a product. Selling a “service” is also about selling an “experience”. Story telling techniques and content marketing will be key for that purpose. And this is where Communications & Marketing need to work hand in hand. And do they? Our team of panel members will discuss how they are affected by new trends and how their collaboration with Marketing has an impact (or not) on their roles and everyday responsibilities.