In 1987, the film production company Universal Studios launched a film starring a young Michael Fox, which would become a true audience success. The feature film name feature film was The Secret of my success. The plot: A young local man from Kansas (Brent Foster) settles in New York to gain experience in corporations, but all his contacts fail, and he ends up as an internal messenger in a large Manhattan company. But…
…soon, Foster (Fox), realizes that he can take advantage of the corporation’s intricate bureaucracy; he manages to invent the identity of a businessman, uses an abandoned office of the building, and turns into a leading executive of the company, who will finally end up saving the company from a fatal fate.
The film today may appear really innocent, but it is a very good metaphor for the corporate philosophy of the eighties: huge staffing levels , manual paper-based processes, excessive bureaucracy and lack of coordination between the different areas and departments of the organization; they were all common currency even in the most important organizations in the world.
Since the 1990s and in the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a significant development in terms of management: new management trends, added to the technological standards applied to corporate management and the constant need for efficiency, have dramatically changed the rules of the game. And public relations have not been unaware of this process.
Marketing, public affairs, advertising, public relations, promotion. During decades, and especially between 1950 and 1990, they were instruments that sounded separately in the business symphony. In the best of cases, by means of an “internal mail”, each area informed the other about its activities. But over time, companies understood the need for integration.
“Because the rules of the game have also been changed by the consumer: the audience today wants to understand the business of brands in a much deeper way, and their role is active. It is no longer enough to transmit product qualities, but rather, long-term corporate values. And the bigger the company, the more important the marriage of marketing and communication seems to be in conveying the DNA of the product, its leadership, and the culture it promotes.”
Together rather than scrambled up
So, all the tools that allow development both at the level of identity and at the operational level of the institutional image, begin to sound carefully orchestrated. The marketing and communication areas are today at the absolute service of these business objectives, generating a true communication ecosystem in which new technological agents already operate: influencers, microbloggers, brand-spinners, data-miners, who exert great influence on the definition of public opinion about brands and products.
The Top 30 Most Valuable Brands report submitted by the consulting firm Millward Brown indicates five vital signs of brands: purpose, innovation, communication, experience and emotional bond. None of these dimensions of corporate identity is built immediately. On the contrary, they require a record managerial level, implementing actions that go in the same direction: marketing, communication, sales, services, among other fundamental areas.
The social context will also provide a higher level of complexity in the coming years, since the agenda of issues associated with brands will not only cover CSR or sustainability issues, but also complex and medium- and long-term social issues. Far from becoming obsolete validity, public relations are changing, they are becoming more specific in the face of the raised challenges and they are playing a fundamental role in Integrated Marketing Communications.
A vision of the transversal and integrated process, aligned to strategic issues, context
and symbolic positioning will be the next frontier for strategic communications professionals. Mind you: it would be more difficult for Michael Fox today to fulfill the “American dream”. A lot more.