The Power of Integrated Communications: Learning from the Global Launch of the New Dow Corning

December 8, 2005

Successful communications campaigns--whether directed at branding, sales promotion, employee motivation, investor relations, or other targeted objectives--are usually the result of well orchestrated integrated communications planning. Too often turf wars, budget issues, and especially a silo approach to communications functions get in the way.

  • Integrated Communications is multi-dimensional: media, markets, audience.
  • "Stairstep" model of building brand facilitates strategy development, as well as internal understanding and a framework for measuring results. This framework helped to sell in the new strategy and shifted internal constituents from a "what should we do" thought process to a "how should we do it" mentality. There was no longer a fight for advertising or public relations dollars. It became more about how to approach the roll out of the new communications strategy. This framework also helped Dow Corning to frame a measurement strategy and even an agency compensation model. The top of the stairs account for internal soft measures and the bottom represent the concrete business measures.
  • Clients need to set the expectation with agencies regarding integration and cooperation, and then reward it. Dow Corning shared their agency practices:
    • We brief all our agencies together and do all subsequent planning sessions together.
    • We are extremely transparent with our agencies about money.
    • Fostering an open and transparent atmosphere has led to our agencies holding pre-meetings amongst themselves before Dow Corning team even arrives to review creative. They see themselves as a team.
    • It's how you choose to frame it for your agencies.

Key Learnings

  • Integrated Communications requires an integrated business strategy. Hook on the biggest business need you can to build your integrated marketing communications strategy -- sometimes the first communication service we provide is a good question!
  • Use your consumer research. Dow Corning went from being a product-focused brand to a solutions provider. Their strategy was simple yet built on a base of complexity. Dow Corning shared, "The key is to push through the complex business issues and make the corporate strategy simple on the other side" This allows for ease of understanding and distribution of strategy.
  • Maintaining awareness is tougher than we thought - requires continued, sustained investment in integrated communications
  • Need to provide a global program in order to provide global salience - a big "lesson learned"
  • Always need to reassert the business case - never stop searching for the "Holy Grail"
  • Constant internal alignment and reinforcement among key stakeholders. Some tips on achieving internal alignment:
    • You have to move fast because there are antibodies in the corporate culture that will get nervous, fight a new strategy and kill it.
    • As a communications professional, ask the right question, don't give the right solution. Assure you are addressing a real business need.
    • Be persistent. Don't let your efforts go for one minute or it will disintegrate immediately.
    • Conduct employee research to gauge employee understanding and commitment to new strategy.
    • Share the rewards with all involved. Dow Corning paid successes back to business units to share the value of this new initiative.
    • The Dow Corning rule became, "Anything that goes external has to go internal first."

"The Power of Integrated Communications: Learning from the Global Launch of the New Dow Corning." Laura Asiala, Reputation Management Manager, Dow Corning Corporation. ANA Business-to-Business Marketing Committee Meeting, 12/08/05; ANA Agency Relations Committee Meeting, 06/29/05.