Five Minutes With… Cliff Callis

Public relations has always been about image management, social media, handling crises, writing press releases and pitching stories to journalists, but what happens when you integrate public relations with marketing?

I spoke with Cliff Callis, president of Callis Integrated Marketing, to see what a career in integrated marketing is all about.

Me: Most marketers believe integrated marketing is about message and content consistency across multiple channels and that each channel plays its own role in a campaign. How would you define integrated marketing?

Cliff: I would definitely have to agree that the message is key with most, if not all, integrated marketing campaigns. But the message isn’t the only thing that is important. Within an integrated marketing campaign, everything works together, complements and reinforces each other in order to create a cohesiveness across all mediums. There are certain exceptions where different things have to be said to different people on different channels. When this happens, obviously the message changes, but the other elements stay as consistent as possible, so that people will know they are still part of the campaign.

So, I would define integrated marketing as multiple channels working together and complementing each other to create the best possible campaign for the client.

Me: I see that your degree is in business, with an emphasis in communications and economics. Do you think obtaining a degree in business or a degree in public relations is better for a career in integrated marketing? Or is the ideal candidate one like yourself, with a major in one and a minor in the other?

Cliff: I think I have a great degree for the job I do. A liberal arts education, much like the one I earned, is much more diverse and exposes students to the study of people, such as psychology and sociology, ultimately helping them better understand how people think and act. And when you are constantly working with clients, this is a great skill to have. Going even further, I think the ideal candidate would be one with a Masters in Business Administration. Candidate with an MBA have a higher level of thinking and a better understanding of how a business actually works.

Me: Callis Integrated Marketing is an agency that deals with clients from many different industries, such as financial, tourism and construction. How do you keep up to date with everything happening in each of these industries?

Cliff: Callis Integrated Marketing is a small agency with a vast array of clients in several different industries. In order to keep things running smoothly and keep up to date, we split things up by industry. We obviously focus more on the industries in which we have the most clients, but ultimately, we do the same types of research for each industry we work in — we read industry blogs, newswires and publications and often keep up to date with industry trends and the employees in each individual company.

Me: Do you think the industry will become more integrated, with pr and marketing executed by one team, or will there always be firms that specialize in one or the other?

Cliff: I think to some degree, yes. In this industry, specialization will always be important. Specialization means you have discovered your niche and you have become an expert, making you highly sought after in your field. But while large global firms continue to create specialized positions, smaller agencies, like ourselves, are beginning to offer more variety in their positions with integration.

Integrated marketing is somewhat of a new term in this industry and is more forward moving than many other approaches. For us, we have the capability and ability to do everything, but we may not do everything for all of our clients. Instead of specializing in position, we specialize in industry – our niche is the outdoor sports market. We all wear multiple hats and work together, which makes integration so much easier.

Me: And completely not related to integrated marketing, if you could have any job in the world, what would it be? (I’ve always wanted to be a race car driver, ever since I was little!)

Cliff: Hmmm… I’d have to say either a beachcomber or a farmer. A while back, I took a career compatibility test and discovered that advertising and farming were grouped together, maybe because of all the risk involved. But I grew up on a farm, I really enjoy hunting and just love being outside. I like the freedom one has when with farming (other than being tied to your land) and the rewards and accomplishments that comes along with it.

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