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February 24, 2008



Nice post, heartily concur. As one who's not wild about having been dragged into the spotlight as the poster person for Target’s customer service gaffes, (nor branded a customer vigilante for our org) I’d safely say solid attention to a hybrid CMO/CCO/EVP could’ve prevented same on all counts.

I’m not sure this is a ‘one person’ job, but more of a dept. head notion due to all the tentacles and reach of the extended digital sphere.

Also strongly believe in applauding the ‘first strike’ forward-thinking execs for positive yields in customer service/positioning, as this ABC news article points to Walgreens for same. http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=4272981&page=1

You can bet those of us seeking positive change in the corporate social responsibility arena will ballyhoo the heck outta this one w/kudos, as we’ve already seen the viral buzz extend onto YouTube with ‘Walgreens Rocks!’ to champion same.

Moral of the story? Do the right thing the first time…Corps shouldn’t attempt to greenwash/pinkwash or blogwash or they’ll quickly be ‘outed’ as hogwash.

In an ever-increasingly erudite crowd of deconstructionists and social change agents, ‘it’s not my table’ customer service just won’t cut it anymore. And as Rapaport said in Ad Age last week about the CMO/snarky/snide advertising, those tactics have seen their day and are bound to taper off soon (hopefully) too...

Bob Batchelor

Hi John,

You hit the nail on the head on a number of points. What I found most compelling is your description of the current state of "integrated communications:"

"The marcom world (marketing and communications; advertising and public relations) continues to remain a siloed one. Once in a while the two disciplines are brought together around a campaign. In some rare cases, the functions are combined under the same reporting structure."

I do not understand why we can't change this, considering that at this point, everybody knows the siloed nature of marcom depts. is a nightmare. Can it really be that marcom leaders have too much to lose in their own little fiefdoms, even if reinventing the dept. meant better service to the organization?

I also like your analysis:

"Maybe the overall stewardship of the company's marcom efforts should be combined with the customer relations function. That way, companies who believe in their customer - their power and their value to their business - can have a holistic way of reaching out and engaging them."

Want a real-world example? Look at the overwhelming number of companies that start press releases with the company name. "XYZ Introduces..." Instead, the release should be about the customer.

Years ago, a friend and I started writing all the releases for one of the world's largest financial institutions by making it about the benefit to customers. We didn't ask permission or get approval, we just did it. Suddenly, people started talking about the "value" our team brought to marcom. No one ever figured out exactly what we were doing, but it worked.

Thanks for the insight on this important issue. Hail, hail the Chief MarComCustomer Officer!

--Bob Batchelor
School of Mass Communications
University of South Florida

Pete Blackshaw

Totally agree, although I still think the hardest piece of the "integration" mix -- the path of most resistance -- is baking the "consumer affairs" group into the broader MarCom vision. They still sit on an island, even though they technically own the "conversation." Great post, though.

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