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Comms vs. Marketing: How to handle their evaporating boundaries

Business is moving faster than ever, and the lines between communications, brand, and marketing are blurring more and more.

  • Why it matters: As disciplines continue to merge, leaders will need to look for more modern ways to integrate strategy, preserve identity, protect roles, and streamline operations. 

Over 90 of the nation’s top communication leaders convened by Axios HQ and Mixing Board predicted that the blurring between comms and marketing teams will be one of 2024’s top trends. Leaders will be called upon to address tough topics — internally and externally — adjust organization-wide priorities, and speak to how these shifts will impact the bottom line. But when they do, they will face several challenges:

  • Integrated strategies. Whether these functions merge, overlap, or sit separately, marketing and communications need aligned messaging and core narratives. Leaders must integrate strategies.
  • Forced self control. Podcasts, TikToks, and other platforms are exciting. But launching them means sustaining them, and it isn’t always worth the cost or time they require. Leaders must decide what they have the resources to maintain. 
  • Formalized collaboration. Communicators are the well-established right hand to any leader. Getting them in the room early enough to drive results and align with marketing is now being formalized — which means you need a strong and integrated internal communications strategy.

Whether you face all these obstacles or only some, the course is clear: Leaders need a plan for addressing the blurring of department responsibilities to ensure goals are being met, colleagues are feeling informed and enabled, and team priorities are aligned.

Provide direction amidst departmental blending 

Addressing blurred boundaries between departments requires a shared approach and cohesive messaging. Build a strategy that utilizes multiple channels and centers around uniting employees around common goals.

Communication strategies that can help:

  • Upskill. Get more embedded in the business. Understand all objectives to become a bigger part of every discussion and develop a decision-making framework. Only then can you delegate the directives employees need to push through. 
  • Develop guardrails. Prevent leaders from going rogue. Define and customize messaging for different platforms and use cases first. 
  • Stay authentic. Employees and consumers can spot copy/paste content a mile away. Create variety and authentic insights for the leaders you work with. Build their confidence to use it.
  • Reposition press releases. They have three primary values — SEO and bread crumbs, historical records, and investor or partnerships announcements. They are no longer how you productively earn press.

The bottom line: Blurred responsibilities can divide colleagues, putting pressure on leaders to take a stand. To ensure employees feel valued, heard, and respected in their roles, leaders need to plan now how to address this issue before it causes division and resentment. 

Go deeper: See all eight topics leaders need to prepared to address in 2024


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