by TJ Njozela (@tj_njozela) When it comes to buzzwords, there isn’t a single self-respecting company that doesn’t use its fair share. It’s no different when it comes to ad agencies.

There are some people who brush them off as words or phrases that their colleagues use in an effort to make themselves seem knowledgeable, but what buzzwords offer is a way to condense complicated or layered thoughts into a something simple and easy to understand. For example, “left-field” is used to refer to something that’s not only ‘out-of-the-box’, but completely unexpected and fresh. Throwing the term “SEO” out in a meeting lets everyone know that you’re concerned about a web page or website’s visibility in the organic results of a search engine.


“Integration” is also one of the words that you’re likely to hear, if you haven’t already, in a boardroom meeting. When used in the right context, it’s a buzzword like any other. In the wrong context, it may be vague, at best, and leave everyone in the room confused as to what you meant when you said it. In order to clear up at least some of that confusion, here are six words that you should incorporate into your business vocabulary:

1. Collaboration

With the multitudes of agencies out there, each with its own particular skill set, they need to work together in order to have a creative product that is consistent throughout every communication channel. This is true of large agencies with smaller divisions that handle various aspects of a business, as well as smaller agencies with strategic partners that they use to service their clients. In these instances, collaboration is key to the success of any campaign. More often than not, the earlier in the process you begin collaborating, ie bouncing off ideas with each stakeholder, the easier the implementation of the project will be.

Vague: “Let’s integrate with the digital team to make a kick-ass social campaign.”
Clear: “Let’s collaborate with the digital team to make a kick-ass social campaign.”

2. Alignment

There are times where agencies are working independently of each other. It may be that they were exploring different methods in order to find the most effective, or they were working in two completely different fields that now have to work together under one key framework. Alignment is the process whereby one or more of the components from the other agencies is made to fit within the chosen framework. Unlike collaboration, this process is usually done after a project has already begun, but the objective is still to have one coherent message going to market.

Vague: “We need to integrate with Agency X to make sure we’re saying the same thing.”
Clear: “We need to align with Agency X to make sure we’re saying the same thing.”

3. Collating

When working off of the same brief, insight, or idea, but in different channels, eg PR, ATL and SoMe, and everything needs to be presented in a coherent flow, it is necessary to collate all the work done by each agency. None of their individual contributions is necessarily changed, as the objective, unlike collaboration or alignment, isn’t to have one unified message. Rather, it’s to see how each channel, although different in execution, works in tandem with the others.

Vague: “Please integrate the ATL, digital, and PR campaigns.”
Clear: “Please collate the ATL, digital, and PR campaigns.”

4. Communication

It’s been said many times that the key to successful relationships is communication. It’s the same when it comes to successful projects. By keeping communication channels open between all parties involved, and communicating any changes or progress made, it becomes a lot easier to keep everyone on the same page.

Vague: “Don’t forget to integrate with the media team to keep them in the loop.”
Clear: “Don’t forget to communicate with the media team to keep them in the loop.”

5. Connect

Over time, as you work with various people in different fields, you start to develop a network of the ones you know, without a doubt, can get the job done. They are your first point of call when you have a problem that falls within their area of expertise. It’s always important to connect with them to bounce ideas, or get input that can steer you in the right direction.

Vague: “Make sure we integrate with Mary and Lebo. They’ll have plenty of great ideas.”
Clear: “Make sure we connect with Mary and Lebo. They’ll have plenty of great ideas.”

6. Amplification

Sometimes a project is implemented in a channel that yields slow results. It then becomes necessary to give it more traction by amplifying it through different channels. This means finding the best way to get it out there, so that it reaches as much of the intended audience as possible.

Vague: “We need to boost the campaign with a strong integration strategy.”
Clear: “We need to boost the campaign with a strong amplification strategy.”

When to use

So when is it fine to use “integration”? The best use is when you’re speaking about the bigger picture, and not when speaking about actionable steps.

In a way, its use is very similar to the word “synergy”. It sounds great when you use it to define culture, or a certain way of thinking but, when it comes to being practical, rather be clear in order to avoid confusion. Unless, of course, confusion was your plan all along.


TJ NjozelaTJ Njozela (@tj_njozela) is an award-winning senior copywriter at FCB Africa with several years of experience in the advertising industry. More than a writer, he is also a reader, a thinker, and an avid liker of things; and he once walked from Joburg to Cape Town in 30 days to raise funds to buy wheelchairs for people in need. #30Days30Wheelchairs

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