In 2014 Annual Conference, 2014 Conference - Monday

Bill Smith

By Katy Martin

William “Bill” Smith says integrated marketing communications calls for difficult change, especially for larger companies. The reason? Because it requires a different way of thinking for those who believe their system is not already broken. However, Smith says he has seen company after company adopt the IMC model with increasing bottom lines to show for it.

A case study of resistance

Martin Purvis was a public relations agency giant, hall-of-fame copywriter and advertising guru. His agency focused on print, television and sales promotion. That was enough. When the digital age came about, Purvis resisted how it could, and perhaps should, change his agency and the needs of his large client base. After selling his agency, he dove into research and re-thought the needs of businesses. He determined that integrated marketing communications was the way companies could, indeed, grow their businesses and protect their brands.

So, what is integrated marketing exactly?

Smith says Don Schultz and Philip Kitchen define it best: “IMC is a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute, and evaluate coordinated, measurable, persuasive brand communication programs over time with consumers, customers, prospects, and other targeted, relevant external and internal audiences.”

In essence, Smith explained that it is the strategic coordination of all messages to strengthen a brand. It is when marketing communications, public relations, public affairs and more all come together with consistent messaging and calls to action.

“All of us are smarter than any one of us,” Smith said. “IMC seamlessly blends all of the tactics so the messages are uniform and consistent.”

Seems logical enough, right? So how do you do you accomplish this?

For non-profits, the IMC way of thinking and process are often second nature as staff members may be limited and the same person who is creating the social media strategy is also the one developing news release content. However, this is not so with larger companies where silos exist. Smith says the sooner larger companies adopt the IMC way of doing business, the better.

Obama Team Brings Results with IMC

No matter your political affiliation, Smith says public relations practitioners cannot deny the impact President Obama’s team has had on the United States – all using the IMC methodology.

“I am not sure if the President knew what he was doing in this or if his staff did, but they did it well,”  Smith said. “Using IMC, to include traditional public relations, television, radio, print advertising, direct mail, email, social media and more, the Obama team gained 3.2 million followers on Facebook, emphasized McCain’s similarities to Bush and energized young voters.”

“The payoff of IMC is worth the change,” Smith said in closing.

For more information about how to implement an integrated marketing communications plan for your place of business, contact Bill Smith at



Bill SmithBill Smith’s professional life in advertising, public relations and journalism has spanned nearly a half-century, where he helped pioneer Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), account planning, event marketing and the video news release. He has worked with Xerox, AT&T, the U.S. Olympic Bio Medicine Organization, America’s Cup, Digital Equipment Corporation, Florida State University, Team McLaren and BMW in motor vehicle racing and Data General Corporation, as well as a host of entrepreneurial upstarts. His work in conjunction with Ammariti & Puris, Scali McCabe Sloves, Papert Koenig Lois and Doyle Dane Bernbach has been seen worldwide. Smith practices what he preaches, running Huckleberry Finn Tomorrow, an IMC and corporate communications consultancy in Tallahassee, Fla.

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