Vince Golla

Kaiser Permanente’s Vince Golla on merging PR, marketing, and advertising with social

At Kaiser Permanente, budget cuts meant merging advertising, PR, and social media together.

Now, they're organized so that TV, radio, traditional media, blogs, and word of mouth programs all converge over social and digital media.

But there's a problem, says Vince Golla, their Director of Social Media, “PR thinks Marketing is crazy. Marketing thinks PR is stiff and inflexible. Much hilarity ensues.”

They have to share similar territory, but neither of them understands the other's way of using the territory.

In his presentation at our Brands-Only Summit, Vince explains how the merge of these departments was a lot like the disagreement between the cowman and the farmer in the musical, Oklahoma!

“My marketing and advertising friends have much more money, more resources, and there is an imperative for them to move that spend from TV and radio into social and digital. And the PR people understand social from a purist perspective.”

And when the two tried to create separate social presences, Vince says, “It looked like a train wreck was about to happen.”

Vince suggests social media would have to bridge the two departments to meet their needs on a tighter budget.

Your customers just care about really good content.

He says social media would help bring the content from both departments together.

“Instead of having two pages, two sites, or two products, we've found that our content could coexist,” Vince explains.

“Your customers just care about really good content. To some degree I'm not sure they really care where it comes from, as long as it's good and compelling.”

Aside from sharing the same social presence, the departments have also helped increase each other's reach and tackle bigger reputation issues.

For example, with the new model, collaboration might work something like this: PR creates sharable content, the owned media is featured on their acquisition site, and then Marketing reuses the content with paid media.

Vince says that in one instance, after Marketing shared a PR podcast in their email newsletter, the traffic from that exposure was so large it broke the site.

Now, Marketing and PR also work together to manage review sites — an issue they had struggled to resolve before they merged.

With the new structure, Marketing has helped Kaiser Permanente own and claim pages for their physicians, departments, and medical centers on review sites. Then, PR responds to reviews on those pages in real time and takes that data back to the organization to improve operations.

In the end, Vince says combining forces wasn't nearly as scary as everyone thought.

Through social media education, a focus on content creation, and working together towards a common goal of affordability, he says the departments are coexisting well together.

Vince explains, “All sides of the house have had to give a little bit, but ultimately, we'll be giving a better product more affordably.”

Watch Vince's full presentation at our Brands-Only Summit here. Vince has been a member of since 2010. In fact, Kaiser Permanente is one of's founding members. You can follow Vince on Twitter and ask about his favorite musical.