Integrated marketing communication is the recognition that learning, even the unconscious learning of an advertiser’s message, is most effective when frequency of exposure takes place. Traditionally, frequency of message exposure meant repeated airing of a message in a single medium, such as on radio or television. Integrated marketing recognizes the myriad number of communication channels consumers access or are exposed to daily, and emphasizes the need for a marketed product to have a presence in multiple channels with a single, focused message.
Integrated Advertising Communications
Advertising continues to be the foundation of most integrated marketing communication programs. Advertising allows marketers to reach the broadest audiences for advertising messages. Within advertising, marketers carefully craft their central selling message, the goal of which is to drive home one central, focused theme for the product or service. The goal is to communicate or “integrate” this single theme across a number of channels such as radio, TV and print, which each have different effectiveness properties.
TV, for instance, has sight, sound and motion. Radio has only sound. Print has only sight. However, the same message needs to be communicated, whatever the channel. The effect is to multiply the effectiveness of the ad campaign by repeating the same single message again and again across diverse communication channels. The goal is to communicate one voice and one message in many media.
Digital Media Targeting Integration
The popularity of the Internet has made digital media the new, hot communication vehicle for marketing. Often, a digital media program will be included as an addendum to a traditional advertising program, again using the same taglines and catchy phrases of the central message used in the general ad campaign. Digital media has the additional advantage of allowing marketers to really pinpoint a message for a digital audience geographically or behaviorally by the tons of data collected through code cookies that record and store individuals’ browsing histories. This information allows them to tailor their message for the audience, but increases the importance of ensuring that the message is integrated in look and theme with other consumer touch-point media.
Challenges of PR Integration
Unlike advertising and digital media, which are paid and thus recognized as biased and self-serving, public relations is viewed as a more objective communication form. However, public relations also will attempt to weave in tenets of the general message theme, even in a seemingly unbiased feature story, in order to be consistent with the product’s general theme. This can sometimes prove challenging as the PR strategist attempts to create a "neutral" posture in their messaging, and the marketers wonder why the PR is not working harder for the brand. This often means "Why aren’t they more biased?" “We’re paying them after all?” Nevertheless, PR specialists know the right balance between integrating and losing the core strength of public relations, which is to look objective even when promoting a product or service.