Friday, February 05, 2016

A.G. Krishnamurthy passes away

A.G. Krishnamurthy, Founder, Mudra Communications Limited, passed away in Hyderabad after a brief illness early this morning. He was 73.
“(He left) hundreds of people and families desolate for he had shaped their careers, outlooks and often their characters,” wrote Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, brand-comm, in The Hindu Business Line… “AGK had the rare ability of translating complex communication problems into single sentences. His solutions were path-breaking. Who can forget the cute girl eyeballing the camera with an ‘I love you Rasna’ or the advertising for an essentially ordinary tagline ‘only Vimal’ that through different executions, season after season, made it a major brand.”
“As founder Chairman and Managing Director of Mudra Communications, he was well known for steering his agency from a Rs. 35 lakh company to a Rs. 7 billion corporation in remarkably short span of 23 years,” according to a report in exchange4media.
“An outsider to the end - Mudra continued to be headquartered out of Ahmedabad in his lifetime - AGK had an original take on life as well as the advertising business,” according to a report in afaqs. “It was his passion that led to the founding of MICA, the institute for strategic marketing and communications, in 1991. Ironically, today is the 25th anniversary of MICA.”
I had the good fortune of working briefly with AGK, and it is rare to find any Mudraite, from whose memory the advertising and branding genius had faded away. He touched every one with his gestures, pioneering work and values.
“I know that it is unfashionable, but I continue to be a representative of old world middle-class values,” he wrote in his book, If You Can Dream (Tata Mcgraw-Hill Education, Rs 325, 2013). “I stand by a few basic principles. They are time-tested beliefs. I believe that: Hard work pays. If you can dream it you can do it. Dedication and determination are the key tools to achieve our goals. Gains made from dishonest and corrupt ways do not last long. Integrity and goodness are the true stepping stones for a good, happy life.”
After reading excerpts from the book, I wrote to him, “Several of the lines in your book would have a deep impact on the minds of all right-thinking people including myself, as they seem to come from the bottom of your heart….”
In my mail, I had also thanked him for the Ganapati idol he had personally gifted me (soon after I joined Mudra) and the Diwali sarees which Mudra used to gift to the wives of its employees. 
He promptly replied, “We had Mudra Reunion in Ahmedabad on the 28th of April, 2013, one day before the launch of my new book.  Some 60 people gathered there from different parts of the country. When each one was requested to say a few words about their experience of Mudra, believe me most men recalled the Diwali saree and how precious the gesture was and how treasured they are even today, many years after the event.  Quite a touching down memory lane experience it was for all of us. It was a good old world charm - The Mudra Experience.”
May his soul rest in peace even as his words and monumental work – not to forget his values -- continue to inspire all of us.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

India PR Guru among most influential global communications leaders

Madan Bahal, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Adfactors PR and Co-Vice Chair, PROI Worldwide for the Asia-Pacific region, turns 60 on January 29, 2016.

Sixtieth birthday or Shashti Poorti has phenomenal significance in Hinduism as it is considered a turning point in a one’s life as one can devote more time to spirituality, having fulfilled one’s material obligations.
In Madan’s case, however, Shashti Poorti has to be redefined both in letter and in spirit as at 60, while others decide to hang up one’s boots, the Guru of Indian PR plans to devote more time to his global pursuits, now that Adfactors PR is the largest PR consultancy in India in revenue terms. Even spirituality has to be redefined to fit his scheme of things. Work, laced with values revolving around stakeholder welfare, is how he looks at spirituality. Why else wouldn’t he work for tobacco and liquor companies/ groups? Why else would he talk about the clout of even the youngest PR executive disseminating press releases nationally at the click of a button – the unarticulated dictum is that, in PR too, editorial gatekeeping is paramount? This is his idea of prayer, worship. Humility and humbleness are the other elements of his spirituality.
Regardless of whether the times are good or bad, the serial entrepreneur has been continuing his goal-oriented never-say-die efforts, working virtually non-stop, except when he is on a holiday, for 34 years.
As a professional who has worked closely with Madan in two avatars – first as a senior editor in his dotcoms and then as PR professional – I am delighted Madan is featured in 2016 Trend Forecast: 16 (Global) People To Watch of The Holmes Report – last year he secured a place in The PRWeek Global Power Book 2015. These are much-deserved recognitions for all his past work – and what he is setting out to achieve.
Let us look at the reasons the leadership team of The Holmes ReportPaul Holmes, its Founder and CEO, and Arun Sudhaman, its President and Editor-in-Chief who have known global PR leaders like the back of their palms – chose to feature Madan in a list of 16 people from the marketing communications and PR worlds who are poised to make waves in 2016. That too, alongside giants of the global PR industry including Charles Watson, Chairman, Teneo Holdings International, Guillaume Herbette, CEO, MSLGroup,  Jack Martin, Global Chairman and CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Jennifer Palmieri, Director of Communications, 2016 Hilary Clinton Presidential Campaign, John Saunders, President and CEO, FleishmanHillard among others. He is the only Indian on the list -- only two other Asians are in the list – Jessica Lee, Director of Corporate Communications, Netflix and Joy Tan, President of Global Media and Communications, Huawei.
(This) is a testament to his inspiring 34-year journey – full of hard work, integrity, commitment to people, and – more than anything – a relentless pursuit for excellence,” said Rajesh Chaturvedi, Co-Founder and Chairman, Adfactors PR which provides services to about 280 retained clients, including some of the largest Indian and multinational corporations and financial institutions. The consultancy has an 18-office network in India besides presence in Dubai, Sri Lanka and Singapore.
“Over the past 30 years, Madan Bahal has built Adfactors into India’s largest PR firm, and one of the 100 largest in the world,” according to The Holmes Report. “But Bahal’s aspirations are unlikely to stop there, as he gears up for further expansion in 2016. Bahal wants Adfactors to play beyond India, and is eyeing markets in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. Such a move would make his firm an anomaly among Indian PR firms, and place it next to BlueFocus as one of the few Asian PR brands with credible international aspirations. Amid all this, of course, Bahal must defend his position on home turf, where a slew of big account wins and campaign awards have established Adfactors as an operation that is as much about quality as quantity. And, of course, the question of succession hangs over all these calculations — will Bahal look to sell his firm, or are other options in the offing?
Yes, there are challenges on multiple fronts, particularly those related to the much-talked-about talent crunch (PR and communications stood sixth in LinkedIn’s 25 most in-demand skills) and the changes in the media landscape with the focus slowly and steadily shifting to digital, if ad revenues are any indication (according to GroupM, digital advertising in India will see the highest growth of 47.5% in 2016 to Rs. 7,300 crore). But Madan is well-equipped to make all-out efforts to turn every challenge into an opportunity, as he has demonstrated with his enterprises -- and for his clients.
Also, on occasions, particularly in a crisis, when clients are able to experience the adverse impact of a crisis but are unable to decipher the causes, a seasoned communications guru like Madan has been playing an awe-inspiring role. For, PR is one of the most challenging professions calling for mastery over multiple skill sets including business knowledge, communications experience and expertise, indepth understanding of the micro and macro situations, research skills, strategy, expertise in utilizing tools, breadth and depth of relationships, etc – and Madan has been showcasing his command over all these, rather unwittingly, with his brief, profound PR prescriptions, after hearing out all concerned fully.
Few are perhaps aware of his rare gifts, as he manages to cloak them in an unassailable shield of modesty. He has an uncanny knack for seeing issues in complete perspective with a rare grasp for the most difficult of concepts. He zeroes in on core issues quickly, and comes up with razor-sharp strategy.... But then, while quite a few others tend to fall in love with his recommendations, Madan detaches himself from the situation quickly and persuades all concerned to let the teams invest a little time in research, where he himself again tends to play a lead role. Armed with research findings, Madan does not hesitate to rewrite presentations done by the teams completely.
“Converting a lengthy communication brief into a terse business problem to be solved: this same unorthodox yet doggedly focussed strategy helped Madan give birth to multiple entrepreneurial ventures: Adfactors Public Relations, today India’s largest public relations consultancy by revenue; chlorophyll, India’s first end-to-end brand consultancy and Economic Research India, India’s premier research company tracking capital expenditure and socio-economic indicators,” wrote The Holmes Report some time back.
What is more, he still has the energy, enthusiasm levels of a 16-year-old when it comes to pursuing any goal, regardless whether it is entrepreneurship or communications assignments. He still reads extensively, on diverse subjects including management, PR, branding, finance, etc. A stellar quality that deserves mention is that he remains calm and composed at all times, even when facing the worst crisis, whether at a personal level or at the client’s end, enabling him to focus all his energy on the problem at hand and its timely resolution.
Another note-worthy ability is sizing up people in just a few minutes, and assigning them responsibilities, aligned with their skill sets. Building and leading teams with complementary skill sets is another strength. Equally important is talent retention, and Adfactors PR is considered one of the best employers in the communications industry – there are several professionals in Adfactors, who have been associated with the brand for over three decades (exceptions like me, who had moved on, are very few). He also makes genuine efforts to upgrade the skills of his teams, adopting different carrot-and-stick strategies including a mother eagle-like tactic of dropping the eaglet off her back at high altitude in order to inculcate flying.
Madan rarely hesitates to speak his mind, even in a client situation. In one meeting, when a client went on and on about PR strategies after seeking a meeting with the PR Guru for important consultations, Madan remarked mischievously, “Why don’t you start your own PR consultancy?!”
And so it is not difficult to fathom why The Holmes Report is betting on Madan as one of the 16 people from the marketing communications and PR worlds who are poised to make waves in 2016.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

PR, management lessons from acclaimed 9-year-old entrepreneur

At the age of nine, Alina Morse of Wolverine Lake, Michigan, is already an acclaimed entrepreneur in the US, winning success and admiration with her innovation. She has invented a line of lollipops promoting healthy teeth for children. Helping her in the invention is her father, Tom Morse, a former consultant to Deloitte for its Consumer Packaged Goods clients.
Her brand, Zollipops, a sugar-free lollipop containing sugar alternatives erythritol, xylitol and stevia, “helps strengthen the enamel”, reports Lauren Abdel-Razzaq in The Detroit News. With a $7,500 investment, Alina sold $70,000 in Zollipops last year.  
Also, there is a lot that business leaders can learn from her. The Chief Executive magazine lists eight basic business lessons from Alina for CEOs and business chiefs. The lessons are: 1. be enthusiastic about your product or company; 2. have a strategy for wowing the media -- especially in this era of viral and digital marketing, it’s crucial for a new company to get a foothold in the news and entertainment media; 3. start the nurture process early; 4. write down or verbally record every idea, no matter how small for potential customers, new products and new businesses; 5. solve a problem or create a need; 6. question the norm; 7. plan your expansion opportunities; 8. think globally. 
That Alina pursues ‘Performance with Purpose’ very seriously has been reinforced by the fact that she has earmarked 10 per cent of her profits for CSR in an area which is relevant to her business: organizing oral hygiene programmes in the neighbourhood schools. 

Beware, Board of Directors! Activist investors’ clout is growing

Activist investors have been storming the Boards of top US listed companies, and bringing about sparkling changes. The developments have phenomenal significance for India – more of that a little later. But first about the developments pertaining to activist investors in the US.
report in The Economist praises the efforts of activist hedge funds in improving governance among listed companies in the US. Such entities acquire “small stakes in firms and act like political campaigners, trying to win other shareholders’ support for their demands: representation on companies’ boards, cost-cutting, spin-offs and returning cash to shareholders”.
“Activists run funds with at least $100 billion of capital, and in 2014 attracted a fifth of all flows into hedge funds,” according to the report. “Last year they launched 344 campaigns against public companies, large and small. In the past five years one company in two in the S&P 500 index of America’s most valuable listed firms has had a big activist fund on its share register, and one in seven has been on the receiving end of an activist attack.”
Among the achievements of activist investors listed by the report are:
·       Trian Fund Management, led by activist Nelson Peltz, secured a Board seat at Bank of New York Mellon in December 2014.
·       The Economist’s analysis of the 50 largest activist positions in America since 2009 has shown rise in profits, capital investment and R&D in many cases.
Ram Charan, Michael Useem and Dennis Carey  list out the following achievements of such activist investors in their article, Your Board Should Be Full of Activists in Harvard Business Review (February 2015):
·       Backed by institutional investors, Starboard Capital ensured the exit of the entire Board of Directors at Darden Restaurants over a spin-off issue in 2014.
·       In 2012, a similar development took place at Canadian Pacific Railway.
Ram Charan is a business advisor to CEOs and corporate Boards, and co-author of the book, Boards That Lead, with Dennis Carey and Michael Useem. Useem is Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership and Change, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, while Carey is Vice Chairman of Korn/ Ferry International and specializes in the recruitment of CEOs and corporate directors.
In their report, Preparing for Bigger, Bolder Shareholder Activists, Joseph Cyriac, Ruth De Backer and Justin Sanders of McKinsey, write, “Activist investors are getting ever more adventurous. Last year, according to our analysis, the US listed companies that activists targeted had an average market capitalization of $10 billion -- up from $8 billion just a year earlier and less than $2 billion at the end of the last decade. They’ve also been busier, launching an average of 240 campaigns in each of the past three years -- more than double the number a decade ago.” 
The support of traditional investors has been increasing the clout of activist investors. “The backing of the traditionalists like Vanguard Group is often giving activists like Trian — the latter with just 2.7% of DuPont’s shares — the extra clout they need,” write Charan, Useem and Carey. “Vanguard holds more than $3 trillion in assets, making it the equivalent of the world’s fifth largest country in GDP, ahead of France. Along with its heavyweight brethren like Fidelity and Blackrock, it packs enormous punch. Vanguard owns some 5% of most publicly traded companies in the US.”
In their article, How to Outsmart Activist Investors (May 2014),  Bill George, Professor, Management Practice, Harvard Business School and Jay W Lorsh, Professor, Human Relations, Harvard Business School, write, “We remain unconvinced, however, that hedge fund activism is a positive trend for US corporations and the economy; in fact, we find that it reinforces short-termism and excessive attention to financial metrics. But because activists -- and the institutional investors who often follow their lead -- are generating positive returns, there is likely to be more rather than less of it in the future. In the interest of their corporations, CEOs and Boards should be preparing for activist interventions rather than complaining about them.”
They cite examples such as that of Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo, who managed such activist onslaughts well. With her ‘Performance with Purpose’ strategy, Nooyi had, among other things, introduced a couple ‘good for you’ products in the PepsiCo range.
Before proceeding further on activist investors, it is pertinent to say a few words about a book which delves into the concept of ‘Performance with Purpose’. The book is Jim Stengel’s book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit. Maximum growth and high ideals are not incompatible,” says Stengel. “They’re inseparable.”
As for tackling activist investors, George and Jay present several options, which could be considered by managements and Boards.
Joseph, Ruth and Justin of McKinsey identify the weak spots which could trigger an activist attack. 1. under-performance relative to industry peers, rather than absolute declines in performance; 2. large cash balances and recurring restructuring charges; 3. executive compensation; and 4. a gap in consensus earnings. 
Charan, Useem and Carey urge companies to “renew their Boards before an activist changes it”.
The three experts quote Raj Gupta, former CEO, Rohm and Haas, as saying that the Board and top management “should think like an activist”. With an “outside in” view of the company -- rather than an “inside out” view -- directors should pose the same questions that an activist investor would ask, according to Gupta. “Is the company’s portfolio too complex? Is management top-notch? Is the cost structure too high? Has the firm missed an inflection point?” Gupta was also on the Boards of Delphi Automotive, Hewlett-Packard, Tyco and Vanguard. 
The advice is more relevant for India, where 77 of the 155 BSE-200 companies (excluding banking and financial ones) have either reported a decline in their market value since March 2008 or the rise  in market capitalisation has lagged the increase in capital employed in the business, according to a report in Business Standard (February 2014).

“In all, since 2007-08, the 155 BSE-200 companies in the sample have together destroyed over Rs 22 lakh crore of shareholder wealth, or nearly 46 per cent of their combined market value in January 2014. The figure would shoot up by half, to nearly Rs 35 lakh crore, if the figures for IT, pharma and FMCG companies were excluded.”

India’s top banks gain 61 per cent in brand value; TCS is fastest growing IT brand

India's top banks have regained their earlier glory in the past year by adding 61 per cent to their brand value, reports Business Standard, quoting the Brand Finance Banking 500 study of Brand Finance, a brand valuation company. Indian bank brands are the second-fastest-growing ones worldwide.

Brand Finance also states that TCS is the fastest growing IT brand with a growth of 271 per cent for the last five years. The brand value of the IT company, which has retained the industry's highest brand strength rating of 'AA+', has increased from $2.3 bllion to $8.7 billion.

As for Indian banking brands, which now rank 13th globally (17th last year), the total value exceeds those from Russia, Italy, Sweden and South Korea, according to the study.

"Technological advances are opening up exciting new opportunities for India's banks as swathes of the population begin to bank more formally," says David Haigh, Chief Executive, Brand Finance. “Their brand managers may need to forge new brand strategies to reach these customers most effectively while maintaining the trust and loyalty of existing ones."

State Bank of India’s (global rank of 40th in 2015, 54th in 2014) brand value has increased by 62 per cent to $6.56 billion in 2015 on account its “pioneering approach to mobile banking”, according to the study. Among the top five banks are: ICICI Bank (80th globally in 2015 as compared to 107th in 2014), HDFC Bank (104th in 2015, 133th in 2014), Axis Bank (131th in 2015, 178th in 2014) and Bank of Baroda (187th in 2015, 208th in 2014).

Globally, Wells Fargo holds its position as the most valuable banking brand, with a total value of $34.92 billion.

N S Rajan’s PR success mantras

N S Rajan, Global Partner and Managing Director, Ketchum Sampark, has been serving global and Indian corporate giants during his two and a half decade public relations career. Among the clients served by him are DSP Merrill Lynch, ICICI Prudential, Fitch Ratings, ICICI Venture, Bajaj Auto, Tech Mahindra, Hutch Vodafone, ABB, Exide, Lafarge, AXIS Bank, Nomura Financials and National Stock Exchange. 

His profile sums up his approach succinctly, “Sacrificing quantity over quality, money over respect and short cut over hard work, NSR in his illustrious career, spanning over two decades, has through his consultative and advisory approach, at a time when the industry didn’t have these words in its dictionary, developed and executed distinctive, high-impact global communications campaigns for several global and Indian brands.”
Business Standard  reports on the success mantras of NSR, as he is fondly called.

"Most progressive CEOs are paying attention to the importance of PR, and they tend to listen when they know that the advice they're getting is honest and logical," says NSR in Business Standard. "Half the battle is won once the top management is willing to listen… When business leaders begin to trust your opinions, they come to respect you for your contrarian views too, especially when they know and understand that you mean well and the suggested course is in the best interests of the organisation.”

Transparency and aligning PR counsel with business situations and goals are of paramount importance, according to him. “Our relationship with the company or its CEO is fairly complex and each solution we suggest needs to be in sync with their business philosophy and culture, besides being relevant at that point of time."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Movie PR case study part of IIM-B curriculum

A case study on entertainment marketing communications will be part of the media and entertainment curriculum at IIM-B. The case study looks at the work done by on entertainment marketing communications agency, Spice for films such as PK, Dhoom 3, 3 Idiots, Ek Tha Tiger, Ghajini and Bodyguard, reports Meenakshi Verma Ambwani in The Hindu Business Line. 

Besides films, Spice manages communications and image management work for Bollywood’s leading actors. 

“Entertainment products are not just marketing oriented; they are now market-driven,” Professor S Raghunath, Professor, Corporate Strategy and Policy, IIM-B, is quoted as saying in the report. “Internet and mobile technology is changing the way consumers make their entertainment decisions and, therefore, it is having an impact on the way movie-makers market their products to consumers.”  

“Bollywood or entertainment marketing has emerged as a specialized domain, and it is increasingly getting structured,” according to Prabhat Choudhary, Head, Spice. “Even celebrity branding is becoming more and more specialized and skill driven."

PRmoment India ‘30 Under 30’ list unveiled

The first-ever PRmoment India ‘30 Under 30’ list for communication professionals was unveiled in the second week of February 2015.
In all, 98 entries had been received, from cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Patna and Bhopal. The entries had been evaluated by an eminent jury comprising leading names from the PR business in India, reports Paarul Chand, Editor, PRmoment India.
The winners include consultancy professionals, in-house communicators and independent consultants. For details, please read PRmoment’s report.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Giant leap for PR with HR remit at HSBC… Is PR ready for more opportunities?

A recent global corporate appointment indicates the growing importance of corporate communications, and the far-reaching management structural changes the said development could perhaps herald across the world. 
According to a report by Arun Sudhaman of The Holmes Report, HSBC's Pierre Goad has taken on leadership of the bank's human resources function, in a new role that retains oversight of communications.
Goad has made a transition to corporation communications in 2001 post his long journalism career with media houses like The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  
"It demonstrates how far communications has come at HSBC specifically, but more widely as well," said Goad. "The skills and experience you gain managing an integrated communications function are applicable and relevant in other functions. Communications has moved past the press office era…. This is an unusual move but I don't think it will be the last — it's the new modern, integrated version of communications... Employees are our most important resource and our most important ambassadors."

Juxtaposed with the assessment and recommendations of global experts, one begins to feel the HSBC appointment would not perhaps remain an isolated corporate development.
Ram Charan, other experts’ prescription 
Consider the views of Ram Charan, eminent business advisor to CEOs and corporate boards, on the Chief Human Resource Officer’s function, for instance.
In his article, It’s Time to Split HR in Harvard Business Review (July 2014), Ram Charan focuses on why global CEOs are disappointed with their Chief Human Resources Officers. “What they (the Chief Human Resources Officers) can’t do very well is relate HR to real-world business needs,” said Ram Charan. “They don’t know how key decisions are made, and they have great difficulty analysing why people -- or whole parts of the organization -- aren’t meeting the business’ performance goals.” 
However, there are rare exceptions including Santrupt Misra, CEO, Carbon Black Business and Director, Group Human Resources, Aditya Birla Group. Misra “became a close partner of the Chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, working on organization and restructuring and developing profit and loss managers”.
HR heads like Misra (the other two exceptions named by Ram Charan being GE’s Bill Conaty and Marsh’s Mary Anne Elliott – working in line operations is the distinguishing quality of such rare HR heads) have inspired Ram Charan’s prescription of splitting the Chief Human Resource Officer function into two strands: 1. HR-A (for administration) would primarily manage compensation and benefits; 2. HR-LO (for leadership and organization) would focus on improving the people capabilities of the business.
Ram Charan is the author or co-author of 18 books, including the best-seller Execution. He is the co-author of the new book Boards That Lead with Dennis Carey and Michael Useem.  
In his article, Why HR Still Isn’t a Strategic Partner, in Harvard Business Review (July 5, 2012), J. Craig Mundy, Vice President, Human Resources and Communications, Climate Solutions Sector, Ingersoll Rand (his present designation is Vice President, Enterprise Learning and Talent Management, Ingersoll Rand), wrote, “For two decades we have been hearing that HR must become a strategic partner to the business. And the fact that we’re still hearing it suggests that in many organizations it hasn’t happened. The need to align HR with the business has become more urgent than ever…. Yet, all too often, business leaders still wonder aloud why their organizations even have HR departments. For their part, many HR leaders are willing to partner with the business, but given the unique situation of each individual company, they have little in the way of concrete guidance about how to fulfil that role.”
Mundy continues, “To truly be partners to the business we must identify those critical points of the business where the strategy succeeds or fails, and provide relevant talent solutions. In other words, we must think in terms of what Brian E. Becker, Mark A. Huselid, and Richard W. Beatty call ‘the differentiated workforce, in their book of the same name.”
The Differentiated Workforce states that “many companies fall into the trap of spending too much time and money on low performers in non-strategic roles, while high performers in strategic roles aren't getting the necessary resources, development opportunities, or rewards”. The book recommends that the workforce should be managed like a portfolio – with disproportionate investments in the jobs that create the most wealth.
Marketing opportunities
An analysis of global experts’ assessment and recommendations on the marketing function too reveals that the corporate communication function could perhaps look forward to playing a much larger role in marketing, provided corporate communications professionals are willing to rise to the challenge and retool themselves.
Stressing the importance of marketing function overhaul is the article, The Ultimate Marketing Machine by Marc de Swaan Arons, Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed in Harvard Business Review (July 2014).
Marc de Swaan Arons and Frank van den Driest are the founders of the global marketing strategy consultancy EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer) and the authors of The Global Brand CEO (Airstream New York, 2010). Keith Weed is the Chief Marketing and Communication Officer of Unilever and the Chairman of the Marketing2020 Advisory Board.
“Marketers understand that their organizations need an overhaul, and many chief marketing officers are tearing up their org charts,” the three experts write in their HBR article. “But in our research and our work with hundreds of global marketing organizations, we’ve found that those CMOs are struggling with how to draw the new chart. What does the ideal structure look like? Our answer is that this is the wrong question. A simple blueprint does not exist.”
Echoing similar views on the marketing function is Bill Lee, President of the Customer Reference Forum, Executive Director of the Summit on Customer Engagement, and author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset (HBR Press, June 2012). In his article, Marketing Is Dead in Harvard Business Review (August 9, 2012), Lee writes, “Traditional marketing -- including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications -- is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are.” 
The way forward is clear. In their article, The Ultimate Marketing Machine, the three experts recommend, “Marketing organizations traditionally have been populated by generalists, but particularly with the rise of social and digital marketing, a profusion of new specialist roles -- such as digital privacy analysts and native-content editors -- are emerging. We have found it useful to categorize marketing roles not by title (as the variety seems infinite) but as belonging to one of three broad types: ‘think’ marketers, who apply analytic capabilities to tasks like data mining, media-mix modelling, and ROI optimization; ‘do’ marketers, who develop content and design and lead production; and ‘feel’ marketers, who focus on consumer interaction and engagement in roles from customer service to social media and online communities.”
Lee’s prescription focuses on the “new model of marketing: that is already in place in a number of organizations”. The key elements of the new model are: community marketing; cultivating customer influencers; rethinking the customer value proposition of the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) customers; and involving customer advocates in the solution provided by the company. 
PR and corporate communications professionals, does all this ring a bell?