VocusAccording to a recent survey conducted by Vocus, a provider of on-demand software for public relations management (and owner of PRWeb), many businesses are realizing the need to integrate PR and marketing. However, there are barriers, many barriers. And they show again how disconnected businesses remain despite all the clear evolutions we see around us.

One major finding of the survey that points to the disappearing lines between PR and marketing is that 78% of marketing and PR professionals report to the same “boss”, while 77% of the same group report formal working relationships to create a common communications strategy.

As said, various barriers to achieve some form of integration and collaboration remain. According to 34% of the respondents, the main barriers include organizational structures, functional silos or turf battles. That’s of course not just a phenomenon in the business use of social media. It’s a challenge that keeps popping up each time and that is a danger for the future of every business.

Discussions about ownership need to stop

The survey results also throw light at the issue of the “ownership” of social media and blogging. Both PR and marketing professionals expressed their strong sense of ownership over them.

43% of PR professionals and 34% of marketing professionals feel that they should own social media. On the question whether PR professionals should own the corporate blog, 37% of PR professionals, as opposed to only 23% of marketing people, supported this view.

However, when it came to the overall effectiveness of marketing and promotional programs, the majority (about 56% of the respondents) was in favor of integrated communications, combining the strengths of PR and Marketing. 48% of the marketing and PR professionals cited sales and ROI as the single most factor to measure the effectiveness of an integrated communications strategy.

Customer-centricity requires organizational transformation and management support

All this seems good news but, frankly, I cannot understand that in this era where customer-centricity is essential and goes beyond silos and where everything a business does should be cross-divisional and connected as the customer is, such debates as the “ownership of social media” still exist. It’s not about ownership and social media can mean many things for many business goals. Responsibility over the ownership and results of a specific social media project in a business function is something else.

It’s hard to grasp we have these debates. But then again, the walls between sales and marketing and customer service etc, still stand in most companies as well. And they stand in the way of business success.

If businesses don’t transform the way they are structured now in times where the customer has a stronger voice, growing expectations and more digital channels than ever, they will never be customer-oriented and focused on the creation of value for customers and, as a logical consequence for the business.

This change is about teams, collaboration, processes but also people and technology. If there is no transformation around the customer that connects everything needed to ensure a smooth end-to-end experience, business will fail. Customers don’t want to see and experience organizational barriers.

So, who is responsible for this? The CEO and the board. Management. Leadership. They need to be accountable for integration, change and customer-centricity. If they don’t start the change and manage it, everything will remain the same: eternal discussions and often even counterproductive decisions by various departments that lead to no value and, on the contrary, are a waste of budgets.

Ask yourself who pays the price for all this lack of collaboration, resulting in investments by several divisions, that don’t strive to achieve the same goal? They have to be gained back, right? Who pays? Probably some employee that can solve the mistakes but most of all…the customer. With bad service and maybe even higher prices than they should pay if the organization was better aligned.

Originally posted on i-SCOOP’s Social Email Marketing blog and moved as part of…an integration.