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Disruption in Digital Marketing and Communications – Insights from 19 Major B2C and B2B Brands

Posted on Jun 5th, 2014
Written by Lee Odden
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  • Disruption in Digital Marketing and Communications – Insights from 19 Major B2C and B2B Brands
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    I recently had the pleasure of presenting at an Integrated Marketing Communications conference called INTEGRATE with an audience of Master’s Degree students and faculty at West Virginia University.

    It was an impressive conference because of the passionate and talented faculty presenting but especially the students – most of whom work full time jobs as they earn their Master’s Degree in IMC.

    Here is the presentation I gave: Digital Convergence: The Integrated Marketing and Public Relations Imperative – Disruption in the digital media world has reached every aspect of marketing and communications. Brands compete with publishers and consumers are empowered to publish and influence like never before. The convergence of marketing and PR creates all new opportunities for brands to build authority and grow business while competitors continue to work in silos.

    For topics like this I like to bring in outside voices of authority and in the process of that research, I was able to tap into some serious brand marketing firepower through digital marketing and communications executives from: General Motors, SunTrust Bank,, LexusNexus, Inova Health System, Intel, PTC, US Bank, Dell, Century 21 Real Estate, Intel Corporation, Marriott, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, Cisco Systems, Motorola Solutions, an eco-beauty company, a Fortune 20 corporation and Rutgers University.

    The goal of this inquiry was to surface the major disruptive forces companies and organizations are facing with today’s modern digital media – especially amongst major B2B and consumer brands. I asked:

    “What would you say is the most significant disruptive force in the digital media world affecting marketing and communications?”

    From changing news media business models to the sheer volume of content, options for publishing, pressure to engage customers on their terms and rate of speed, there are multiple dimensions to this topic. There were a number of distinct themes in the replies. First: social and media platforms are both a challenge and opportunity. Second, consumers are empowered more than ever and brands need to organize, communicate and engage on their terms to succeed.

    Below are excerpts from their responses. Full responses are being compiled into an eBook.

    Mary Henige GM
    “The decline of media, and consequently positions for journalists, has changed true news consumption, but conversely has posed an opportunity for multimedia journalists who can tell visual stories – at media companies and organizations.”
    Mary Henige (@maryhenige) Director, Social Media & Digital Communications at General Motors

    Heather Lockwood Aveda
    “The fragmentation of storytelling across multiple touch points is disruptive to ensuring a common thread and a consistent brand presence, voice and tone across all digital (and non-digital) efforts that connect the work and grow the brand.”
    Heather Lockwood (@hlockwoo) Director, Global Digital Marketing at a major Ec0-Beauty Company

    Matt Gentile Century 21
    “The explosion of mobility and connectivity is the most disruptive force in marketing communications today. Today’s consumers are interacting on screens of all types and sizes and they are ready to connect with your business at any moment. That’s a huge opportunity, but only if you are prepared to interact.”
    Matt Gentile (@MattGentile) Global Director, Social Media at Century 21 Real Estate

    Jennifer Lashua Intel
    “The biggest disruptive force I’m seeing is how data is enabling more granular content targeting which in turn drives a need for more customized content. With today’s customized targeting and re-marketing capabilities, combined with consumers having more control, content marketers have an opportunity to serve customers content that feels more customized to their individual needs.”
    Jennifer Lashua (@runningjen) Editor in Chief at Intel Corporation

    Frank Strong LexisNexis
    “Shiny object syndrome distracts communicators from creating core content.  New channels are useless without something useful to contribute. Content marketing forces the integration of the marketing and PR silos to hit two top objectives that previously required divergent tactics: awareness and leads.”
    Frank Strong (@Frank_Strong) Communications Director at LexusNexus

    Barbara Soifer Rutgers
    “The need to keep things short and very to the point eliminates the ability to tell a story in one medium.  It’s more about having a compelling lead and engaging the target in 140 characters or less and then leading that target to the full story in another channel/medium. The ability to convert a target to a lead to a customer has become a multi-media process.”
    Barbara Soifer (@soifer428) Senior Director, Campaign & Development Communications & Creative Services at Rutgers University

    Rob Birgfeld Inova Health System
    “The dirty secret of the internet / social web is no one reads any more. You’re lucky if they skim. This is why imagery and pictures have become everything and sometimes the only thing.”
    Rob Birgfeld (@robbirgfeld) Senior Director, Digital Marketing & Communications at Inova Health System

    Stephanie Losee Dell
    “Everything we’re seeing now is a product of the disruption of the distribution model for marketing and comms. If brands are going to speak to their audiences directly, they need professionals to help them do that. Brands must offer their audiences content as a service rather than using their platform to crow about themselves. Quality will have to rise drastically, which means that the people who do it best–traditional publishers–have an opportunity to shift their distribution model accordingly.”
    Stephanie Losee (@slosee) Managing Editor at Dell

    Gary Spangler DuPont
    “The huge numbers of retiring baby boomers in the USA will be disruptive in multiple ways from the influx of technical-savvy employees over a short time, accelerating how companies communicate though social and mobile to new roles in Integrated Marketing, Digital Marketing and Communications, Brand Protection, and Legal Compliance.”
    Gary Spangler (@garyfspangler) Corporate Digtial Marketing Manager and Leader Social Media CoE at DuPont

    Ken Kaplan Intel
    “The challenge in a faster paced, mobile connected world is to move faster and create quality stories more quickly that hit people’s interest. You have to pay for people’s attention or have robust, growing distribution channels/discovery points.”
    Ken Kaplan (@kenekaplan) Editor at Large at iQ by Intel

    Fortune 50 Brand
    “The ability for everyone from companies to consumers to “publish” content on the fly makes it difficult for a large B2B company that has legal processes to go through to be fast and first with a unique message.”
    Anonymous Product Marketing Manager at a Fortune 50 Corporation

    Nancy Pardo PTC
    “Text format in digital media is becoming obsolete. Consumers hunger for “human” connection and meaning in a sterile digital world and visual storytelling through video and image hits the spot. In the future more corporations will be collaborating with, buying up, or creating their own media production houses as a way to hone and amplify their storytelling to rise above the blah.”
    Nancy Pardo (@PTCPardo) Content Marketing Director at PTC

    Julie Horns US Bank
    ”There is an expectation that brands will meet consumers when and where they have interest in them.”
    Julie Horns (@lachicajulia) Marketing and Social Media Strategist at US Bank

    Heather Meza Cisco
    “Technology and cool shit like the Internet of Everything (IoE) will help us marketers keep up with new tools and resources that will enable us to truly market person-to-person (P2P). Brands will start focussing more on culture and employee engagement because doing P2P well requires that your employees ARE your brand.”
    Heather Meza (@heathermeza) Conversion Content Marketing Coach at Cisco Systems

    Jennifer Mesenbrink Motorola
    “Social networks have completely changed the digital media equation where power now lies in the hands of consumers and customers. Hashtags in particular can shine a light on one specific topic and tie together whole streams of conversation uniting many users in sharing one view.”
    Jennifer Mesenbrink (@EditorThink) Senior Manager, Digital and Social Content Strategy at Motorola Solutions

    Michelle Lapierre Marriott
    “Social platforms can change their policies whenever it suits them which can be disruptive when you’re integrating across platforms, channels and devices.”
    Michelle Lapierre (@mmlap) Senior Director, Customer Experience & Social Media at Marriott

    Corinne Kovalsky Raytheon
    “The ability to develop social profiles for small, niche audiences means you don’t have to “hope” you’ve reached your audience anymore.”
    Corinne Kovalsky (@kovalskyc) Director of Integrated Communications & Public Affairs at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems

    Darlene Ford  SunTrust Bank
    “Email marketing is the most disruptive force in digital media affecting marketing and communications, because people are overwhelmed with the volumes of emails they receive each day. Over time it’s become a very ineffective way to each our audience.”
    Darlene Ford (@dford28) Digital Marketing Strategist at SunTrust Bank

    David B Thomas Salesforce
    “The most disruptive force is the hype surrounding click bait tactics used in content marketing and the inevitable backlash that will hurt brands, destroy credibility, and destroy upper management’s faith in content marketing.”
    David B. Thomas (@DavidBThomas) Senior Director, Content and Engagement at

    As you can see there are quite a few perspectives on what constitutes “disruption” in the digital media space, especially as it relates to digital marketing and communications. I think it comes down to the rate of change in technology, consumer behaviors and the ability for corporations to adapt and innovate.

    What do you think are the most significant digital media disruptions affecting modern marketing and communications?

    Top image: Shutterstock