Insights Into Integrated Communications


Sage Communications recently attended the INTEGRATE WV conference, hosted by West Virginia University and Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va. The conference included sessions from numerous experts from across the marketing communications industry. Here, we share our key takeaways from the two-day conference, including words of wisdom from several of the speakers who attended.

A consistent theme was how the digital technology boom is impacting public relations, marketing and advertising. A report from Accenture found that advertisers are now spending 41 percent of their budgets on digital and mobile platforms. One speaker, Joseph Jaffe pointed to the larger implications of this new technology landscape by noting that there will be an estimated 24 million jobs lost to automation by 2027.

While digital was a major theme across the board, there were several other discussion topics every professional in the marketing communications field should take note of.


Define a content strategy and stick to it

These words come from Amanda Todorovich, director of content marketing at the Cleveland Clinic. Because of Amanda and her team, the Cleveland Clinic’s content marketing strategy has become a vital asset to the company’s overall strategic goals.

When it comes to content marketing, the key to success is making your target customers your entire universe. But, how do you do that? Amanda noted that there are four key steps in accomplishing this feat.

First, you need to know who your customers are. At Cleveland Clinic, the content marketing team uses a Google stock image of a family-oriented lady named Judy. Why? Because Judy personifies the largest group of Cleveland Clinic’s target audience: moms. If your team understands in detail what drives your customers, then they can develop content that speaks directly to them.

Second, you have to help your customers. This requires you to develop content that answers their questions, helps them make informed decisions, or guides them in solving problems.

The third step is ensuring your content provides value. So you’ve helped them solve a problem, but why should they turn to your organization for a solution? This step determines whether or not customers purchase your product.

Lastly, you have to listen to your customers. Amanda noted that this step has been the most important in their success as a content marketing team. She relies on customer-provided data to make more informed decisions in developing future content.

Takeaway: Highly targeted, tailored content is truly king in today’s heavily saturated content world.


PR’s impact on the #1 Super Bowl Ad of 2017

This year, 84 Lumber placed a 90-second Super Bowl ad that generated buzz, created controversy, and tugged on heart strings. Steve Radick, VP, director of public relations and content integration at marketing firm BRUNNER, spoke about the role his team played in the ad's success. 

84 Lumber’s CEO, Maggie Magerko, tasked the team with making sure that everyone in the country knew the name 84 Lumber. The team at BRUNNER decided a Super Bowl ad would be best to accomplish the goal. So, with only six weeks to complete the task, they hit the ground running.

We’ve all seen the results of the compelling and controversial creative work that went into developing the advertisement, but many aren’t aware of the work the public relations team did to ensure everyone in the U.S. recognized the 84 Lumber brand. 

The team took one advertisement and turned it into a campaign. Before the Super Bowl, the ad was teased across a variety of publications, including ADWEEK. There was a steady stream of coverage that teased the ad until FOX rejected it because it was “too political.”

The PR team at BRUNNER used this as an opportunity to ride the news wave by taking back control. With the client's approval, they were able to take a stand against FOX’s decision. This spun the negative news surrounding the ad and positioned 84 Lumber as a strong, values-driven organization.

After the ad aired on Super Bowl Sunday, the media did the work for them. A variety of rave reviews and critical commentary flooded the news cycle — all of which highlighted the previously unknown 84 Lumber to a national audience.

The campaign garnered more than 14,000 media placements and over 147,000 social media shares.

Takeaway: The integrated nature of marketing communications can lead to massive exposure (if done correctly).

INTEGRATE WV provided commentary on nearly every facet of the marketing communications industry, from influencer marketing to B2B media relations. Our industry will continue to shift as the societal landscape evolves. Sage Communications is committed to staying on top of the latest trends and topics facing the marketing communications industry so we can better serve our current and future clients.

X-SageJim McIntyre