After you finish reading about the winners of the 2008 CableFAXIES Awards, you’ll decide to begin something new. So we thought it fitting to end this book with a look ahead — a glance at what cable PR and marketing might look like in five years. To do this, we asked a group of senior cable PR and marketing professionals to prognosticate on what will change, or not, by 2013.

OUR PANELISTS: CHAR BEALES, PRESIDENT/CEO, CTAM; JOE ROONEY, SVP & CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, COX; LESLIEANNE WADE, SVP OF COMMUNICATIONS, CBS SPORTS; DENISE HITCHCOCK, SVP OF MARKETING AND AFFILIATE RELATIONS, BLUEHIGHWAYS TV; JENNIFER GEISSER, SVP OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, HALLMARK CHANNEL AND HALLMARK MOVIE CHANNEL; KATINA ARNOLD, VP, COMMUNICATIONS SALES & MARKETING, INTERNATIONAL AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES, ESPN; AND GUY SLATTERY, SVP OF MARKETING, A&E.

CABLEFAX: Will PR and marketing be different in five years than they are today or will they essentially be the same as they are at the moment?

CHAR BEALES: For cable companies, the differentiators among competitors will have become so vague, we’ll all be in a battle to offer one thing: the finest customer experience. That means the best products, service and price. For content providers it will be all about consumer engagement. They’ll be extending their brands across platforms, giving consumers control and measuring effectiveness for advertisers in ways yet to be defined.

JOE ROONEY: Marketing is changing. To deepen our brand relationship with our customers we must move from a monologue to a dialogue. Customers are more in control than ever. Marketing and PR techniques will continue to move to new media, because it’s interactive by nature and customer tailored to create an effective customer dialogue in real time. Customers will help define our brands, if we listen.

LESLIEANNE WADE: The basic components and main goals of a good promotional PR campaign will remain the same.

DENISE HITCHCOCK: The backbone of our field — accuracy and sincerity — will remain. But the tools of messaging are adapting rapidly as our audience changes the way it gathers information and views programming.

KATINA ARNOLD: I hope the basic principles will be the same, but the Internet and blogosphere will certainly grow. We as PR professionals will need to address these writers more thoroughly and completely to get our messages out. These outlets cannot be ignored. Get ready, because our jobs will become even more 24/7 in nature, too.

GUY SLATTERY: We will see people consume media in a more non-linear fashion. While this means consumers can avoid marketing messages more easily, it also enables marketers to easily target the right consumers, making advertising more effective. There will also be less of a distinction between marketing and content.

CABLEFAX: Will print advertising continue to play a role in your PR and marketing?

BEALES: Of course. It will take a mix of all media to reach consumers who are increasingly choosy about how they receive information and advertising messages.

ROONEY: Certain segments are easily reached through print advertising today. Newspapers can be a terrific way to reach aging boomers, a key target segment for high-speed Internet, digital cable and cable telephony. As we get more scientific, we have moved away from some of the mass media to targeted direct response vehicles. We clearly see a greater media spend moving to new media and direct response due to the clarity of the marketing ROI.

HITCHCOCK: While an increasing amount of my budget will move to online advertising, nothing beats the "hold it in your hand" impact of a print ad. People spend more time with print ads, and they get passed around — it’s an old version of viral. A basic of all my campaigns will still have a print component.

JENNIFER GEISSER: I agree. In every multimedia campaign, print advertising plays a key role. We are a long way from dismissing traditional print media. There is still nothing better than seeing that story or ad in good ol’ black-and-white print, be it a newspaper or magazine.

SLATTERY: New media doesn’t kill old media, so print will continue to be an important part of our marketing mix. Sure, print’s share of the budget may have decreased, but I don’t see it going away altogether as useful advertising. In cable we are marketing to a mass audience with a time-sensitive product, so it still takes mass media like television, radio, newspapers and magazines to achieve this goal.

CABLEFAX: What techniques, strategies or tools that are not being used extensively today will be ubiquitous in five years?

BEALES: We’ll have a better handle on how to successfully use the marketing channels that are hard to control, such as word of mouth, social networking, user generated content, blogs and so on. And HD toilet seat advertising is going to be the killer app.

ROONEY: Marketers are becoming more scientific in their approach. The old adage that "half my marketing isn’t working, I just don’t know which half" is gone. As we employ better metrics we are better able to drive the results we seek. While the majority of today’s advertising is generic — for instance, only segmented based on what products the household does not yet have but little psycho-demographic and behavioral segmentation — the opposite will be the case in five years. In five years cable marketers will use CRM tools and market segmentation models to better sell and serve customers. Further, new tools are coming and cable marketers have an opportunity to be innovators. ITV and impulse ordering through the digital set-top will be awesome new marketing opportunities.

WADE: The Internet and non-mainstream media will continue to play an increasing role in getting in touch with sports fans. In addition, the opportunity for the audience — our customers — to convey their programming likes and dislikes will increase. Programmers and PR executives will change the way they approach messaging and respond to audience criticisms. Most obvious among the changes will be the preparedness for quick release of information and quick response.

GEISSER: There are so many multiplatform options out there, so utilizing these nontraditional techniques and tools has already become a popular trend. In five years, there is certain to be even more techniques with the growth of digital media. Think about the days when people used to wear sandwich boards as ads. Now our sandwiches practically wear the ads — you can brand just about anything.

SLATTERY: Brands are going to have to become much better at having a conversation with consumers. In the age of Web 2.0 and online social networks, word of mouth has become more important than ever. Consumers are much more likely to trust fellow consumers rather than what they are fed in an advertising message. The smart marketers will continue to find innovative ways of opening up this dialogue with consumers and exploiting these channels to deliver a better product and more relevant marketing messages.

CABLEFAX: Will these new techniques and strategies make PR and marketing more or less effective than they are today?

BEALES: We tend to think innovation — the next big thing — is the answer. And it might be. But today, some companies are finding that traditional direct response marketing is their most successful tactic. So while we hope new marketing techniques will be more effective, who really knows? Maybe we’ll decide we should go back to community quilt squares.

ROONEY: I am an optimist, so of course I will say that we will be more effective. As we dive deeper into marketing sciences, CRM and segmentation, I feel we will truly understand our customers better.

HITCHCOCK: Call me an eternal optimist, too. The tools that a marketing PR professional has at their service now are far easier to organize and launch than they were just eight years ago. But at the same time your audience is barraged with more information and choices of where to get their facts. If I know my audience, I should be able to structure an effective campaign to successfully get my message in front of them.

GEISSER: As long as there is Henry Schleiff, there will be messages that we need to shout about, so the more platforms there are, the more effective we can be — by publicizing and marketing our brand everywhere.

ARNOLD: For PR, I think we’ll be just as effective as we are today. Times change, as do businesses and the media. Good PR people adapt and figure out how to get messages out efficiently and effectively.

SLATTERY: Ultimately, marketing is becoming more effective. The lines between marketing and content will continue to blur, which means consumers will actually be choosing to view marketing messages rather than finding ways to tune them out. Also, new technologies enable us to serve up branded experiences to interested consumers rather than bombarding all consumers with messages for products that have no direct relevance to them.

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