Smart communicators have long embraced the premise behind integrating marketing communication functions: melding public relations, advertising, marketing with social media and any other channels to reach a business’s critical audiences. It speaks to the efficacy of this concept that it has finally earned its place among legitimate disciplines. Because a marketing communications professional is essentially a “jack of all trades,” it can take years to accumulate the necessary experience. By then, you should be ready to tackle an executive leadership role in this field.
Master at Managing
As a marketing communications, or marcom, professional, you need a breadth of experience that spans all of the communications functions. Depending on your previous positions, you may sacrifice expertise in one or more area; it is rare that a marketing communications executive has as much experience in advertising as she does in public relations, for example. It’s more important that you understand the role of each element and how it factors in strategically with the organization’s objectives -- as an executive, you will manage people who are experts in individual areas, so your good management skills are more important than whether you know the latest social media jargon.
Understand the Marcom Mix
You need to understand every component in the marketing communications mix. You use public relations strategies and tactics to deliver your organization’s messages to various audiences via non-paid media channels. Traditional channels include newspapers, magazines and broadcast, such as TV and radio news. Advertisements do the same thing, except you pay to have your message delivered to precise audiences, giving you more control. Social media leverages the efforts of both PR and advertising while also giving your organization a two-way communication mechanism. For some organizations, you also need to consider marketing components such as sales promotions and pricing strategies. It’s not a hit-and-miss responsibility -- you need to underpin your strategy with research to determine your marcom concentrations.
Mind Your Business
It’s essential that you are competent in basic business concepts, especially how the goals of each department need to align with the organization’s mission and business objectives. You need to eye each decision in your marketing communications department with this impact in mind or you are wasting time and money -- two things that will bring a company to its knees over time. Rather than get bogged down in the minute details of ad design, for example, as you may have done in past jobs, you need to think on a higher level and be prepared to justify your decisions to the chief operating officer, your financial executive and, possibly, a board of directors.
Executive Totem Pole
As you search for upper-level integrated marketing positions, manager and director titles are typically at the bottom of the executive ranks. As a manager, you’re likely to still be more hands-on than a director, while as a director you’ll have more responsibility for coordinating the various elements, including ensuring deadline milestones are met for each effort. The top of the rung is typically a vice president position. Position titles can vary -- a vice president of integrated marketing can mean the same thing as a vice president of integrated marketing communications or even vice president of marketing and communications, but read the job descriptions carefully to make sure.
- Public Relations Society of America: IMC Integrated Marketing Communications Job Descriptions
- West Virginia University: What is IMC?
- Forbes: Why Integrated Marketing Communications is More Important Than Ever
- Duquesne University: Integrated Marketing Communication
- MADD: Vice President, Marketing and Communications
- PRSA Job Center: Important Knowledge, Skills and Abilities for a Career in Integrated Marketing Communications
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