Diane Brink, VP-worldwide integrated marketing communications, IBM Corp.

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Diane Brink, who has been leading IBM Corp.'s worldwide marketing communications for just over a year, has a big responsibility—making sure the marketing organization is helping IBM achieve its overall corporate goals.

"My very first priority is to make sure our efforts are completely aligned to the business priorities and that marketing is helping to enable those priorities and support the growth objectives," she said.

This requires a 360-degree approach to marketing. "We are constantly looking at innovative approaches as to how we're communicating our messages," Brink said.

"We still use TV and print, and our interactive efforts are getting much stronger," she said, pointing to webcasts, blogs, podcasts and online video as just a few of the new technologies IBM is using to tell its story in interactive formats.

IBM is also shifting away from more traditional "talking head" events and is hosting smaller, more intimate forums for its key clients and prospects to talk about their business problems and how IBM can help them find solutions.

"Our events are much more collaborative and grounded on business issues," Brink said. For example, IBM hosts gatherings for select target audiences, such as engineers or CEOs.

This year, IBM launched a major campaign, developed by Ogilvy & Mather, New York, with the tagline, "What makes you special."

The campaign uses real IBM customers and focuses on how the company delivers innovative solutions to their business problems.

"The campaign really tells the IBM story," Brink said.

"We realized, going into it, that people don't fully understand who IBM is today. We have changed pretty significantly as a company, as we continue to add capabilities and change our capabilities."

The campaign began internally, with IBM's marketing organization working with sales channels and partners to make sure all its capabilities were represented and well-orchestrated.

The U.S. launch took place in March, and the campaign eventually expanded to 12 countries. It includes TV, print, online, outdoor, events, sales channels and partner marketing.

In one of the more creative media placements, IBM placed an ad on a helipad in New York.

"One of the things I like to promote is the whole notion of testing new ideas and encouraging the team to try new things," Brink said. "Creating an environment in which to test and explore helps the organization continue to get better and forces us to think differently, which spills into our relationships with agency partners. It is a very collaborative environment."

Prior to her current position, Brink led IBM's marketing for the small and midsize business segment. —K.M.

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