There is no question that communications and marketing have been evolving over the past several years, so it comes as no surprise that so has the role of the people overseeing these functions. The increased demand for transparency and authenticity from companies as well as the multitude of different channels that are now at our disposal has increased the need for consistency of message and therefore the need for communicators to start working together or even merging disciplines. More and more, we are seeing an increase in practitioners who have both communications and marketing within their responsibilities. We’re also seeing more alignment with investor relations practitioners and corporate communications professionals.
This trend is not new for me. I’ve always been a believer that there needs to be coordination among all of these functions and in some cases, when companies are small, they need to be the same person or department.
When I was in-house at Nuvelo, my title was director of IR and corporate communications. But what I really oversaw was anything that had to do with marketing or communications. We were a small company and I was the only communications person, so I wore all of the hats: employee communications, corporate communications, PR, IR and marketing. Since we didn’t have any products on the market, our booths at medical meetings were scientifically based and meant for educational purposes. A number of the people who came to visit were investors and sell-side analysts, so it made sense that I would help build the content in the booth and even staff it. Overseeing all of these functions allowed me to build one voice for the company. The context may have changed depending on the audience, but the overarching narrative was the same for all audiences.
Having these functions merged also allows for efficiency. As a PR practitioner, you have your thumb on the pulse of what is going on from and industry and competitor perspective—you’re monitoring news to see where your company can fit into the conversation. But this information is very useful for an IRO as well. They are constantly getting questions from the Street about how trends and competitors will affect their company, so being able to track this information for both functions is very useful. The same holds true for having a coordinated calendar of all events from both an IR and PR perspective. Having a comprehensive document allows the team to figure out the right cadence for the release of news, gives insight into how certain news might come into play with events that are happening at the same time and also allows for you to coordinate media and IR opportunities around travel for events and conferences. Each practitioner brings a different skill set to the table but it is clear that in this new environment of information consumption, the old model of communications in silos is no longer an option. Marketing, communications and IR need to be working together and in some cases can even be the same person!