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Il Communications Marketing secondo Richard Edelman


Toni Muzi Falconi

Recentemente, Richard Edelman è intervenuto a New York alla DLDnyc Conference con uno speech sui temi del Communications Marketing. A pochi giorni di distanza dal convegno sul ruolo del CCO ospitato a Milano da Assolombarda, Toni Muzi Falconi commenta la visione di Edelman, evidenziandone differenze ed analogie.

To be blunt - per essere espliciti - il marketing va reinventato per meglio servire il consumatore. Così, per non nascondersi dietro un dito, il principale imprenditore mondiale delle Relazioni pubbliche, Richard Edelman, si è rivolto pochi giorni fa a un pubblico di innovatori delle tecnologie del marketing.

Così, a due anni di distanza dalla prima uscita pubblica (era la Page Society nel 2014) della definizione  di communications marketing Richard aggiunge altri elementi informativi: un chiaro messaggio di continuità in una scelta difficile.

A dire il vero Edelman non insiste tanto nel sottolineare questa metamorfosi e le interpretazioni sono diverse e oggetto di discussioni fra gli addetti ai lavori.

In questa seconda uscita Richard spiega che  ci sono dice quattro rivoluzioni simultanee in corso::

  • il fossato di fiducia fra élite e masse, come prodotto della grande crisi del 2008 con l’asse dominante della comunicazione che oggi è orizzontale e non più verticale, quando i vertici erano ancora creduti;

  • l’accelerazione dell’innnovazione che non tiene più conto delle aspettative dei consumatori;

  • la “tempesta perfetta” che ha investito la pubblicità dove oltre il 50% dell’efficacia è notoriamente fraudolento per cui gli utenti preferiscono i media privi di pubblicità;

  • l’implosione del sistema dei media ha prodotto quello che Edelman chiama collaborative journalism.

Insomma una vera “rivoluzione” dice Richard.

Il suo testo è tutto da leggere.

Personalmente non mi convince un gran ché, ma non v’è dubbio che molte osservazioni sono fondate, che stimolano molti pensieri critici e richiedono approfondimento.


I have been looking forward to the DLDnyc Conference so that I can discuss the rapid evolution of marketing and communications. Many of you have played central roles in the disruption of the media sector and the birth of the sharing economy. You have prompted a fundamental rethinking of the strategy of my family PR business, Edelman.

To be blunt, we need to reinvent marketing to better serve consumers. We are now convinced that there needs to be a new commitment by marketers to truth, experience and authenticity. Marketing can also play a bigger role in the achievement of corporate strategy, beyond making the numbers to changing the competitive landscape. A reimagined marketing services sector will play a vital role in this pivot, helping marketing to move from short-term selling to building long-term trusted relationships with consumers.

Brands must recognize that they can no longer buy consumer loyalty — they have to earn it with action and performance. The best brands now are partners in consumers’ lives, interpreting social and societal trends to evolve the offer. A perfect example is healthcare company CVS Health, which decided to pull cigarettes off the shelves in all of their stores, forgoing $2 billion in revenue annually. The move drove awareness of CVS Health’s increasingly large role as a healthcare provider among consumers and political, health and business leaders, including President Barack Obama. And the company saw its stock price rise 9.2 percent during the three weeks following the announcement, despite the projected revenue loss.

There are four simultaneous revolutions that prompt this reconsideration of marketing:

First, there is a change in the trust equation. In response to the Great Recession of 2008, there is now an unprecedented gap in trust levels between elites and mass population, nowhere more concerning than in the U.S., where the trust level of the mass is almost 20 points lower than that of elites in business, government, media and NGOs. This is one explanation for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The classic pyramid of influence is flipped on its head, with influence now resting with the mass population even as power remains with the elites. The government leader and CEO are being supplanted by a “person like me” as one of the most credible sources of information. Brands must recognize that the predominant axis of communications is now horizontal (peer-to-peer), not vertical (talk at) – that worked only in an era of belief.

Second, there is an acceleration of the pace of innovation. Consider that iconic brands in categories as diverse as baby shampoo and music television are enduring profound declines in sales as new competitors are embraced. Yet, by a two-to-one margin, consumers feel innovation is moving too quickly. We also found in a recent Earned Brand study that that two out of three respondents want to be reassured, whereas only one in three want to be inspired. Consumers believe that marketers are playing falsely with them, with altered photos and exaggerated claims. And our 2015 Trust Barometer revealed that more than half of the respondents believe there isn’t enough regulation in the financial services, health, energy or food and beverage industries. Brands must take responsibility for issues such as privacy, sourcing, and employment.

Third, advertising, which has sold brands so effectively since World War II, now finds itself in a perfect storm. Ad blocking technology is offered as a standard element on many mobile devices. Marketers are greatly concerned about the value of clicks on digital ads, with some estimates as high as 50 percent to 70 percent being fraudulent. Many consumers are choosing ad-free media such as Netflix. Programmatic ad buying has driven down prices of digital advertising to pennies per CPM, and prestige brands are having a hard time getting a price premium. And attention spans continue to shrink. As a result, Pepsi recently announced that it would be running more than 100 online and TV ads that are five seconds in length to promote the brand’s new emoji-designed bottles. Brands need to recognize the imperative of experimenting with new forms of paid media, such as Unilever’s radio station in India for the mobile phone that has four ads per hour.

Fourth, mainstream media is imploding, as part of the Era of Expression in which consumer becomes content creator. Media consumption habits of the general population have shifted. They now rely on search, TV and social, leaving behind newspapers and magazines. This is prompting particular erosion of the local media, with newsroom employment in the U.S. down from 50,000 to 30,000 in the past seven years. Social media, especially Facebook, is now a platform through which readers get their news, recommended by friends instead of going directly to media brands. Search has changed the pecking order of influence, with the winners the newer brands with charged headlines and plentiful video such as Business Insider and Vice. Media companies, such as The New York Times, are becoming competitors for ad agencies and PR firms, with sponsored content and conference organization as core offerings. Brands will need to adjust to a world where the average person needs to see a story five times in different places to achieve belief.

We need to partner with you, the technology disruptors, to make the marketing world over again. I have been advocating an idea: Communications Marketing should replace marketing services as the descriptor of the business. It is the combination of corporate reputation and brand marketing in the pursuit of a big idea. It serves both the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Communications Officer, and ultimately the Chief Executive Officer. It aims to sell products in the context of substantive change, not just function and image. It is built on a long-term relationship of mutual benefit with consumers, a continuing conversation with influencers and a new level of transparency on operations. It is marketing at the center of corporate strategy.

Here is an example of Communications Marketing working as an integral part of corporate strategy. At United Airlines, Oscar Munoz, the new CEO, is trying to restore the business to its rightful place as one of world’s top brands. To do so, he must connect with alienated employees stressed by battles over compensation, and rebuild the trust of customers, who are angry about customer service and delays. He publicly acknowledged in a series of interviews and a full-page ad that was a personal letter on the fifth anniversary of the merger of United and Continental that the combination had been poorly implemented and to promise a new deal for both employees and passengers. A social channel for customers and employees, UnitedAirtime.com, was launched as a transparent way for airing complaints and demonstrating improvement. The enthusiasm for his leadership is manifested by frontline employees who are embracing the company’s new Twitter handle @WeAreUnited: #BeingUnited. Meanwhile, the on-time record and baggage delivery statistics are moving up quickly.

In response to this revolution, ad agencies are trying to reorganize their business so that they can serve up ads to each customer based on search history and knowledge of prior transactions. The important elements for the media plan are audience, relevance and context. Reaching consumers at the right time and right place is critical. This is especially so because of the game-changing power of the mobile device. More hours per day are spent on the cellphone than any other medium. Mobile is both a channel and a context. Search and location are important indicators of what the consumer is about to do. When you are in an addressable scenario, you are much less likely to zap the ad because it is relevant to your life.

But the paid approach is no longer enough; just ask former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who spent over $100 million on ads in the Republican primaries to absolutely no effect. Because of the dispersion of authority and high degree of skepticism, now there is a difference between attention and persuasion. There must be a runway of trust established before a paid campaign can take off. We need to take a Communications Marketing approach, one that is premised on effective storytelling and incorporates earned and owned media, with paid as an accelerator. The goal of the storytelling is to create buzz, trend and context that give permission for the advertising to take effect.

Clients need something completely different: a fundamental reassessment of their marketing priorities and a reallocation of the marketing spend. At the moment, classic PR represents only 8 percent of marketing spend, dwarfed by advertising and digital. Recent industry statistics indicate a flat-lining of revenue for more than half of the large PR firms in spite of the important changes in the operating environment. At Edelman, we have opted to evolve our traditional PR business into a Communications Marketing agency in order to achieve this larger destiny.

It begins with research. The typical PR-based study helps to define messages and target audiences. In the next phase, we will use meta-data to help us target specific information to those with the need for the news, based on location and interests. The new research premise is digital analytics, in order to assess trends in social media, to listen and learn from the passionate advocates, to make content available based on past consumption of media or search history. To get sizable budgets, research must also provide tangible evidence of sell-through of product.

The content we produce must be “earned-centric, social by design and intelligently promoted.” We have a built a strong paid offering, mostly buying on social platforms. Paid must be used to amplify positive earned and owned content, efficiently targeted to the right person at the opportune time and in the proper context. We are doing this for some clients on an out-sourced basis. We call our initiative Collaborative Journalism — this works well for clients that are no longer served by the shrunken media sector.

At Edelman we have hired 400 creatives and planners. Their task is to come up with ideas that can start movements and stimulate discussions in the social sphere. The storytelling ability of the PR folks must be tied in with visual genius and social feel — advertising and communications working together.

In the purchase funnel, we find that awareness and preference can be driven both by advertising and earned media, but peer-to-peer discussion is vital at the point of purchase. The circle is completed by recommendation based on experience. That is why the transparency of discussions in communities is so vital for the sharing economy giants such as AirBnB. We are building communities for all of our clients as a primary communications channel; we oversee nearly 1,000 communities for clients.

But brands must not only enable consumers to talk to one another—they should stand for something. So along with Product, Place, Promotion, Price, and Profit, we must add a sixth P to the marketing equation: Purpose. A company or brand must show how its products add value to society; hence the success of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. This answers our recent Trust Barometer finding, showing that the consumer has a larger expectation of business, with 80 percent of the general population saying that business must both make a profit and improve society.

Also, every company has the potential to become a media company. This is clearly working well for GE, the industrial giant. The GE Reports blog and other dedicated channels have led to a stunning 5 million people in the GE digital ecosystem.

We are offering new products such as digital customer service, which allows us to quickly turn angry consumers into brand advocates. For example, for Samsung at South by Southwest, we deployed representatives on bikes to provide fully-charged phone batteries to those who tweeted out when their batteries were running low. This transforms the customer experience by building value around the customer and benefit, not the product or channel.

We are building on our traditional skill of influencer outreach, to find and make partnerships with the new influencers, such as YouTubers and travel bloggers. At the same time, we are mobilizing employees, communities and other stakeholders behind efforts such as Starbucks’ 100,000 Jobs campaign that aims to employ inner-city youth.

In the coming years, I predict that business models will change on both agency and client side. Agencies will have to stop defining themselves solely by creativity of campaigns and the number of awards won at industry events. The real business that we are in is solving problems for consumers on behalf of our clients. Those of us in the broader agency world, whether in advertising, digital, media buying or PR, should be building strong ties to the C-suite, grappling with them on complex issues instead of being transactional and focused on the next campaign. We cannot yield this ground to the consulting firms because otherwise we will not attract the best and brightest to our field. At the same time, we can expect companies to bring the responsibilities of the Chief Communications Officer and Chief Marketing Officer closer together because brand and corporate reputation must be inextricably linked.

For marketing to succeed in the next phase, there must be a revolution in the marketer’s mindset. Marketing must aim for game change, a vital part of the corporate strategy, such as Ecomagination for GE. Communications Marketing must be the new way.

Fonte: Edelman