ThinkTank Live Presentations: Andre Manning & Mich
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

ThinkTank Live Presentations: Andre Manning & Mich

Arun Sudhaman

Following our successful ThinkTank Live conference in Prague last week, I'm happy to post the presentations made by Philips global comms chief Andre Manning and ex-HP CMO Michael Mendenhall below. Both deal with the integration of marketing and PR, looking at the challenges from fairly different angles. Manning focused on social media, asserting that "companies that are wallflowers in social media have lower growth." He noted the massive disparity in Philips PR and marketing budgets, but pointed out that social media is changing the game in terms of effective engagement. Manning used the example of Philips healthcare business, which uses LinkedIn to communicate with 8,000 cardiologists every day. He also noted the difficulty in always linking social media campaigns to sales. "I would rather have 5 people who act upon a message and spread, than a message that is delivered to 5 million." Unsurprisingly, one question from the floor tackled the issue of control. Philips is a very big company, and employees are actively encouraged to use social media. "I’m not a police officer, sitting in Amsterdam," said Manning. "I cannot control it - and I don’t have the ambition to control it. As long as we learn from mistakes and we don’t make the same mistakes twice, I’m OK with it." Mendenhall looked at how companies can deal with a fragmented media, using his time at HP as a guide. "The CEO hires a head of marketing or a CMO to create value, drive growth, build goodwill, protect brand’s reputation and to mitigate risk. He doesn’t hire a marketer to go out and integrate a bunch of agencies. Thus the problem begins - a siloed approach." Mendenhall introduced the idea of a 'Chief Revenue Officer', that would merge marketing, PR and sales. "Someone responsible for all of the tounchpoints. We’re seeing the brands and comms teams working together more and more. And we are seeing stakeholders consuming across all these channels." Integration, said Mendenhall, is the biggest frustration for marketers. Whilst he accepted the importance of all stakeholders, he stated very clearly that consumers are most important. "Ultimately, consumers are going to drive the outcome of your company. They will decide whether your product has value. They will decide whether your service is good, bad, indifferent. Your other stakeholders become important around the consumer ecosystem. Analysts will listen to consumers saying there are issues with service. And your performance financially is driven by your consumers. It’s when you start to treat them as a huge group of people rather than individuals then you start to lose." Interestingly, for someone who now heads an independent agency, Mendenhall believes that more corporates will centralised agency/holding group solutions. "At the end of the day, the owner is going to be at the corporate level, who has sales & marketing and communications. I do think you will continue to see independents relative to the product side, but I do think you will see more and more of it centralised, especially in terms of data." Mendenhall pointed out that HP, he had "way too many agencies doing niche things," calling the approach "deluded." The dilution that happens, the inefficiency, sheer cost of working this way - we actually cut our supplier base down by two-thirds at HP." However, he added that holding groups are in no way a perfect answer to a thorny question.  "What we saw is - even at the big holding companies - agencies compete with each other. You may have someone assigned to brand, or creative, you may have digital…they all start to compete with each other. This costs you money. It is a huge topic of frustration - I think that needs to be cleaned up."
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