Ad industry should do its homework first before asking PR: why can’t we all just get along?

I’m reading more and more articles in the ad trades about PR’s growing importance and its seeming ‘encroachment’ into such ‘traditional’ advertising domains as word-of-mouth.

This week’s Ad Age contains an interesting piece by Noelle Weaver that asks, in effect, why we can’t all just get along. Alongside it, though, is a telling list of comments from various readers, that explain, in part, why the disconnect continues.

One observation from an integrated marketing agency executive inadvertently nails the ‘problem’ on the head. Intending to illustrate how each discipline contributes thinking to the other, he writes, ‘…..PR people often identify the Big Idea and write great headlines and taglines, and the ad creatives come up with great promotions, events and story placement ideas.’ And, therein lies the problem.

Ad people still think of PR as being limited solely to stunts, press releases and media relations. It isn’t. And, it hasn’t been for some time. The best PR is being leveraged to create new, and serious, dialogues with a rapidly-changing end user landscape, and ranges from viral and digital initiatives to thought leadership and strategic partnerships. As long as advertising types continue to see us as stuntmen and women, they’ll continue scratching their heads wondering why we can’t all just get along (and continue to lose more and more of the client’s overall marketing budget).

5 thoughts on “Ad industry should do its homework first before asking PR: why can’t we all just get along?

  1. I agree Steve. Publicity is important but it’s only one of the many services a strategic PR agency brings to the table. I’ve had too many experiences over the years with ad/marketing firms (large and small) whose big idea is to use ‘PR’ to get coverage of their ads. And while that may feed their egos, they can’t see how much more we could do to help client reach their goals.

  2. Hi Steve, Thanks for reading my piece and commenting on it. The shop I work for actually offers both public relations and marketing services so what I described in my piece hits close to home. As an agency, we’re pretty lucky because we have creative and strategic ‘ad’ people working right next to creative and strategic ‘pr’ people on each and every account. The truly amazing thing that I see happening is that by working together, instead of claiming who’s responsible for handling this medium or that type of strategy – we recognizing the power of how the two disciplines [and viewpoints] can work together to create bigger results for our clients. [And perhaps even more amazing is the reverb effect it has when client marketing and communications teams break down their own barriers.] As agencies [whether traditional ad, pr or interactive] continue to offer more and more of the same services and types of ideas the line blurs further every day… and that fascinates me…especially as we all struggle to reinvent ourselves in the new marketplace while still maintaining our true identity.

  3. If only it were just the ad agencies that had misconstrued ideas about what PR is. Ironically, it seems the PR profession needs to do a better job of explaining actually what it is — too many people in all walks of life think it is just press releases.

  4. Repman-
    do you suggest i hire a pr firm or ad agency for my record label?

  5. There was a letter in Marketing Week in the UK last month on this theme. The headline was “Do PRs hold all the influential knowledge?” There was a previous article about a client that decided to only hire PR agencies, because apparently “they’re the ones who really know how to influence the consumer”. The author of the letter, Rob Isaacs from Progress Communications, suggests that PR and advertising should work together on a campaign from the very beginning to bring out the best in both disciplines – but he seems to have more of an appreciation for what PR is than Noelle Weaver.