Tuesday, November 27, 2007

American Academy of Advertising Comment

Integrating media planning in advertising and PR

One of the changing silos in our industry and field of study has been the consolidation of the media planning business. With consolidation came buying power. With power came new strategies, new leadership and newly named and renamed firms. While small buying groups exist, the newer model seems to be aligned with the growth of the marketing holding companies in advertising, direct database marketing, e-commerce, public relations and media buying. Yet, the last frontier for integration seems to be media planning. Why is that?

Our goal at Northwestern University has been to work with many of the holding companies to place our graduate students in summer internships, to visit their headquarters with students when we travel to other cities (like London Paris and Tokyo), conduct research, to invite their leaders to speak and to sit on the board of visitors for the school and to place our students in agencies. The placement in agencies comes after a long drought where more than 85% of the students over the last 15 years have graduated from IMC to work for corporations or other client organizations instead of agencies. Recently I have been working with the Counselor’s Academy of the Public Relations Society of America as a lonely and lowly academic. The objective is to reconnect our students to the agency world with new media planning and research skills.

One of my objectives has been to discuss new media planning during the recent month with a variety of agencies, industry organizations, companies, executive MBA students – mostly from four Chinese universities, MBA’s and our own graduate IMC students the value of integrating media planning. What we mean by integrated media planning is obvious to students and audiences when described as “coordinated research, planning, securing and evaluation of all purchased and earned media”. The obvious need to coordinate and jointly plan both advertising and other purchased media with earned media or public relations is not done according to the vendors who provide the tools that would permit advertising and PR to strategically plan media for a client.

Ask any advertising director in a company or agency what profitable target media they have chosen for message delivery of the new corporate or product/service brand strategy. Then, ask any PR director in the same company or holding company PR agency what their targeted media will be for the same program. If the communications leaders are not targeting the same media to reach similar readers, viewers and listeners; the C-Suite in the client company and marcom media companies would want to know why not.

Just as selecting media for advertising has become a science and management art; the field of selection and analysis of earned media (including print, broadcast and blowing) for public relations is now more of a science. Today, far richer databased systems permit media managers who want to know which reporters, quoted experts, trade books, new publications, broadcasts, bloggers and more are the most “profitable” targets for public relations developed messages. Using the new built-in media metric systems PR directors can calculate return on investment on advertising “versus” PR and with PR, read and judge a range of positive, neutral or negative messages, share of mind, measures of media impact, advertising equivalency and many more. Even ad equivalency, a number frequently challenge by some PR academicians, can be useful in the context of dozens of other financial and volume numbers.

Companies like Harley-Davidson with over a billion media “hits” on their 100th anniversary need artificial intelligence or its closest cousin to count and measure their media effectiveness and efficiency. The systems are used by high risk and high visibility corporations like McDonalds, Genentech, Bank of America and other firms with sensitive markets (food, pharma, environment, privacy, ethnicity, etc) who need to plan and adjust their media performance constantly and coordinate their results with the advertising plans.

At Northwestern with my colleagues Martin Block and Frank Mulhern; we have redesigned the traditional media class and other classes in Marketing PR and Issues Management in not so traditional ways to include the use of donated media metric services (valued at several thousand dollars per month) from educationally oriented companies including www.Biz360 for over 4 years. Other firms including VMS and Evolve24 have offered support.

Now, when the chief marketing officer and other C-suite officers ask the holding company’s integrated agency directors of advertising, public relations or IMC if they the media are fully planned to reach targeted audiences; they can answer affirmatively.

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