Catherine Huggins, Huggins Consulting Group, featured in The Branding Bunch from the Des Moines Business Record

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A truth veteran journalists grasp pretty quickly at the Business Record: our sources know way more
than we do.

So, as much as possible, we try to get out of the way and let local business and industry leaders share their wisdom. That was our approach when we began brainstorming ideas for our annual sales and marketing issue. We wanted to let local leaders in this field share their wisdom, so we created a survey and asked marketing and public relations professionals to respond.

In typical fashion, Des Moines business leaders stepped up to the plate and generously offered their insight, experience and wisdom on the most common marketing or public relations mistakes they see and how companies can avoid making them.

What is a top mistake that you see businesses make in their marketing, branding or public relations work, and how does it negatively affect the business?

One critical error is when businesses fail to align marketing, branding or public relations initiatives with business objectives. This is especially true when it comes to employer branding, corporate reputation or integrated marketing communications strategy. It’s easy to see business threats as economic, social, geopolitical or environmental. Yet the risk of misalignment is real and costly. The intricacies of alignment unravel when silos emerge across an organization. It’s a slippery slope as senior-level strategies stop being shared. Communication becomes fragmented. Information becomes power. The greater good becomes lost. All of these things negatively impact business results.

Given the top mistake you identified, what is the best strategy for a business to either remedy or avoid the mistake, and what should a business be doing?

Great CEOs understand the face, voice and actions of an organization emanate from the top. Here are three things that CEOs can do to align marketing initiatives with business objectives.

  1. CEO engagement: A CEO should clearly and continually communicate his or her vision both internally and externally. Be a storyteller, interpreter and advocate.
  2. Aligned dashboards: A CEO should adjust dashboards across the organization to incorporate common marketing, branding or public relations metrics. Integration = alignment.
  3. Joint scenario planning: A CEO should take best practices in business continuity planning and apply them to scenario planning in marketing, branding and public relations.