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The integrated approach

The integrated approach

By Kim Bode

I started 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications to fill a need. I needed to hire an agency that could provide the wide range of services, strategy, implementation and measurement that my organization needed—there was no such agency. This is an example of a “When all else fails, do it yourself” mentality. I started the organization I wanted to hire, because it didn’t exist. The rest is history.

An integrated communications approach takes all disciplines—creative, digital, public relations, advertising and marketing—and meshes them all together to deliver a desired result that is driven by the data. Everything works together to form a cohesive strategy that outlines goals, measurement and ultimate results for you, the business owner.

I don’t know who had the idea to segment the disciplines into silos, but I would like to have a conversation with that person. The fact is, communication is complex and you have to take all strategies, tools and tactics into consideration before implementing to produce the results desired…and you need to get the most bang for your buck.

It’s not good enough to have a good or even an amazing idea—you need the backing of research for a successful strategy and the benefit of multiple tools in your toolbox to pull off an authentic campaign.
Still not with me on this? I’m happy to convince you!

All disciplines support each other and intertwine. Drawing rigid lines around one part of a strategy prevents a robust, multi-layered approach between objectives that naturally overlap.

For example, if you are launching a recruitment campaign:

  • Design/Creative: develop collateral for social, website, print and advertising.
  • Advertising: review audiences, determine media buys segmented by target audiences.
  • Marketing: outline messaging strategy, plan special events throughout target area, work with creative and PR to outline messaging.
  • Public Relations: develop a press release on campaign, recruiting events and company growth. Plan out storylines throughout the length of the campaign.
  • Social: work with PR to outline messaging for all networks, work with creative to develop images and infographics to be shared.
  • Digital: set up online ads with creative, create a landing page specific to recruitment that all advertising and campaign efforts will direct to.
  • Implement and measure.
You can certainly hire a PR firm, a graphic firm, a social firm, a marketing firm, a digital firm and others all individually, but that means that your job is to now accurately connect them to each other (and hope they get along!) so that you have a harmonious campaign. While this is not impossible, it is very time intensive and can easily lead to missed opportunities and mixed-messages.

Consistency in all communications efforts is key. All it takes is for one wrong image, phrase or ad to hit to undermine your investment.

Something else to keep in mind: not all agencies/firms will implement a strategy for you. After you pay for the strategy, you then have to turn around and pay for the implementation of said strategy, or do it on your own with your existing staff.

If you don’t have the staff to implement, then that strategy you just paid for is, well, useless.

An integrated approach means that the professionals creating the plan are doing so knowing that they will have to make it come to fruition. Tactics will be realistic, doable, and measureable—not ideas that look great on paper but are impossible to implement.

Integrated communications with an implementation plan truly deliver the best return on investment. Each platform will naturally connect and leverage opportunities. Ideas created will actually happen, and adjustments will be made to get you to where you want to be.

So, it’s up to you: hire a handful of different agencies that do one thing well, and then find another agency to implement the stack of strategies they provide you…or take the integrated approach.

You obviously know where I stand.

Kim Bode is the Principal of 8THIRTYFOUR, an award-winning Communication Strategy, Event Planning, Social Media, Media Relations and Design firm located in Grand Rapids. It was born from Kim’s passion for communications and over a decade of experience in strategic planning, marketing communications, public relations, event planning and community outreach.
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