CMO Council Report: Aligning Marketing and Communications Teams During the Pandemic

Posted on by Kaylee Hultgren

Digital media consumption has skyrocketed during the pandemic, putting most brands under the microscope far more than they’re accustomed to. In light of this, marketing and communications teams must collaborate to ensure that brand messaging is consistent across all channels and platforms.

A recent CMO Council study looks at ways in which brand leaders are unifying the two departments during these tumultuous times. The report shows that in some ways marketing and communications teams have different priorities and goals, but 81 percent of 150 brand leaders surveyed said that earned media efforts have become more important during the pandemic, underscoring the need for the groups to properly align messaging and create a consistent customer experience.

But where they disagree is the challenges to alignment: 55 percent of marketing leaders said functional silos were a top challenge, 41 percent said different KPIs and objectives were at issue and 41 percent said problematic reporting lines was a challenge. By contrast, the top challenge for communications leaders was budget.

The top three best practices for aligning marketing and communications teams, according to the report, are cross-functional team meetings (77 percent), integrated campaigns (63 percent) and shared goals and metrics (57 percent). Moreover, an organizational structure in which both teams fall under a single brand leader will help maintain alignment, executives quoted in the survey said.

Technology can play a role in integrated marketing and communications teams as well. The top five technologies that can assist with this are marketing analytics, performance and attribution (70 percent); social media marketing (63 percent); content marketing (50 percent); mobile and web analytics (46 percent); and customer intelligence and data science (43 percent).

Additional takeaways from the study point to ways in which the two teams can better align—and, in particular, get out ahead of misalignment before it’s too late. Suggestions include encouraging a better understanding of each team’s function; employ an outside agency or unbiased third party to evaluate alignment; create a liaison or unified role between marketing and communications teams; collaborate frequently during regular meetings; and maintain an agile approach that allows for shifting roles and adaptable job functions to meet the demands of the current unpredictable business environment.

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