IMC – Fast and fearless at the PRSA International Conference

IMC – Fast and fearless at the PRSA International Conference

IMCI’m always amazed at the ability of PR people to accomplish things in about a third of the time it would take the rest of us. But I think it’s a necessity. News moves practically at the speed of light these days. Trying to stay ahead of that cycle (which is what public relations professionals have to do) takes a giant amount of energy, alacrity and mojo.

I was incredibly honored to be asked to speak at the PRSA International Conference yesterday. True to form, the staff asked me to present an overview of Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC. In an hour. I did a webinar version of this talk in August, and the general consensus after that session was they wanted less “what and why” and more “how to.” Makes sense right? There’s very little time to look at the pretty train and enjoy the comfortable seats. No my friends. The train has left the station and PR people are leaping on the roof, dashing into the cars and at times hanging onto the caboose with their fingertips.  I love that energy!

I’m not entirely sure I delivered what they needed yesterday. Technology was not on my side and I probably tried to present way too much information. (Here it is on Slideshare if you’re interested) It’s hard to say. Here’s what I’m really hoping they took away from all my mumbo jumbo:

  • When it comes to IMC, the brand premise – why are you really there – is more important than the brand promise. You can’t just promise anymore and that’s why planned and product messages are falling flat. Your message has to match the medium. 
  • IMC demands that you know your audience, from a behavior standpoint most of all. You have to know how they obtain information and the timing with which they make decisions.
  • Project management is king and measurement is queen. I know these topics are boring, but these are the things that make IMC work.

And finally, you have to be brave enough to find the right IMC recipe for your brand or organization. Because it’s different for everybody. Use your audience knowledge and your intuition to start finding the combined tactics that work for you. Remember, in the laboratory many scientific findings are happy accidents. In IMC, it’s much the same way. You’ll find little secret combinations that boost your results exponentially. And perhaps you won’t know why it happens. But like a good PR person, you won’t worry too much about the what and why. You’ll just know that you gotta make it happen again, and again. The train has left the station my friends. Time to hop on board.