The war of the marketing disciplines is one that will never die.
As long as there are agencies, there will be opinions on which agency type dominates. Having been in integrated communication for my entire career, I have worked in virtually every marketing discipline and have espoused each for their virtues.
I also listened closely while the industry shifted its spotlight from one trend to the next as consumer marketing consumption behaviour changed.
Well, now the spotlight is shining brightly on PR. Having been in PR for three years now, I can understand why. Marketing consumption behaviours have now landed in the sweet spot of PR. Consumption trends dictate: small bites of information, credible, unbiased and unbranded sources that deliver an ongoing, authentic relationship between a person and a brand or company that the public expects.
Of course, the world of push communication is still alive and serves its purpose. There are people who still watch ads and there are still marketing executives who feel comfortable with the old way because it is testable and perceived to be a “guaranteed” way of making an impact (typically because a testing company said so.) The TVC still has a place, yet advertising agencies must refer to them as “film” so they can be viewed on something other than a television and be considered relevant.
What cannot be refuted in today’s marketing world is that content, no matter where it is distributed, must be authentic. And that is something that most marketing communication outputs cannot claim.
I mean, how authentic is a print ad, spot or pre-roll video that is overproduced and features actors? Most of the general public does not know that most endorsements, media support and is created by PR agencies on behalf of a brand. What an edge to have.
PR professionals must work for placement of a story that someone else deems good enough to report on and must do this through relationships that are earned, built on trust, and not bought. That is half the battle for brand acceptance and respect today – to come across like they are not trying too hard, even if they might be. This can be tough for engineered, branded content having to break through loads of rogue, unpaid, and consumer generated marketing messages to get noticed.PR has been doing this for decades.
This thirst for credibility is not only being seen in how people consume marketing communication, but in how they consume information in general. We are seeing the resurgence of the professional journalist because citizen journalists have got it wrong too many times.
That means consumers are beginning to second guess, or at the very least verify the news they obtain against more reliable sources. This desire for trustworthy, influential sources can only bode well for PR. As stakeholders seek more and more direct contact with the public – be they politicians, CEOS or CMOs – they are looking for PR professionals to craft their message in the social space because they cannot risk getting it wrong.
Our world changes from moment to moment, and being credible ‘out of the gate’ is important, but that’s only good if it can be executed in real-time.
Long-lead production timelines are fleeting. There is less need to tiptoe delicately around creative directors on whether or not they agree with the creative manifestation of your messaging. Because creative opportunities are moving so fast, everyone in the agency has the opportunity to suggest a creative approach because things need to get out the door fast.
PR has always been able to move on cultural happenings and conversations, but with the advent of social media, what they are used to doing already, can be done even faster and with greater impact, whether serving a brand by pushing information out or responding to a crisis. The responsiveness of PR as a discipline is undeniable.
So if you want a story told on your behalf, and to have it considered, discussed and not perceived as being self-serving, brand drivel, call a PR agency that has earned a spot for your story to be told
I’m pleased to be working in a discipline that I believe will continue to have its virtues in the long term.
The future of PR looks bright.
Loretta Markevics is EVP and global director of strategic planning at Portern Novelli, based in New York.
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