// what do you think?


Wake Up PR and Advertising! You’re Blowing It!

Next month will mark the 2 year point from when I joined Waggener Edstrom’s, Studio D group. Waggener Edstrom has it’s roots in PR and most of clients still are in PR but I’m not a PR person. I don’t think of myself as a story teller or a journalist and I definitely don’t do media relations. I did go to Comms school but I studied communication theory and human behavior.

But I also don’t consider myself an advertiser. I will do very targeted PPC and social ads for my clients when it makes sense. But I actually hate most advertising (of course I could probably say the same of most of the PR I see). I don’t think of myself as a creative. I didn’t go to art school. I don’t copy write (although I almost got a minor in writing). I don’t design. I can’t even draw stick figures. I don’t even know how to use Photoshop.

I say all of this not to raise self doubts about why I ended up getting into Marketing or to discredit myself in the eyes of all the PR and Advertising people who clicked through on my salacious blog title to argue or agree with me. I only bring this up because as an outsider  (in the political sense that really means I’m not an outsider I just don’t really know what I’m doing) I want to point out that *as an industry* you guys are blowing it.

I get that PR and Advertising are kind of like mortal frienenies. Clients expect you to play well together and while historically you usually don’t directly compete for the same marketing dollars that’s all changing with social media. Social media’s created this gray space that not just opened up new opportunities between the two disciplines, it’s opened up the playing field where PR and Advertising are starting to steal each others  clients and dollars.

PR and Advertising Need Each Other

I have always believed that PR was better suited to handle social media. That’s why I finally decided to join the company I did. But PR isn’t the end-all-be-all. PR is great for relationship building, conversations and story telling. They don’t typically deal in wild, crazy creative. PR people are typically risk averse (for good reason) and they don’t push boundaries very often. Advertising is great at the creative and at starting conversations but they’re not very good at nurturing conversations or taking feedback. (Yes that last statement was an intentional dig at my “creative” friends.)

Your Business Models Are Barriers

But even in the situations where PR and Advertising play well together and leverage each other’s strengths, they’re still blowing it and it may be that there’s nothing the incumbents can do about it. PR is paid on retainer. Their business model doesn’t support wild, speculative, creative experiments. They get paid to staff a team to manage a companies communication. Advertisers are paid for the deliverable and the ad buy. There model doesn’t support long term conversation nurturing. Advertisers only think in terms of short run campaigns because that’s the way they get paid. And while I hear agencies complaining about this I don’t see them doing anything about it. For the most part they just try and find ways to fit social media into their business model. The result is that your social media sucks. Stop it.

This is where PR and Advertising need to be spending some serious time reinventing their business models and their client offerings. They need to find somewhere in the middle. Something that brings the best creatives and the best relationship builders together in a way that best supports customers and their communities. Of course clients are a whole different problem I’ll save for another post. (I love you clients, just kidding.)

But what makes me most excited is that the market is ripe for a Blue Ocean Strategy. Are you?

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • Guest

    How about:

    * Better grammar.

    * An actual point.


  • http://ztoryteller.com/blog Owen Richard Kindig

    I agree with your assessment that the economic models and the self-imposed habits of engagement go hand in hand. I like the fact you are one of the 1 in 10,000 who are cutting at the roots, instead of hacking at the branches, to paraphrase Thoreau. When I was doing hobby farming, it was the same thing… the new guys had a fresh way of seeing farming, both in practice and as an economic engine … and that’s what gave us the organic/sustainable/subscription/suburban farms we see today.

  • http://twitter.com/prpeep Vanessa Williams

    As someone who comes from a PR background - I agree with you completely. Perhaps not shockingly marketing/advertising and pr don’t always communicate or work well together. I think a positive out of all of this social media is that it is forcing these disciplines to work more closely together. And they can compliment one another if both parties are on board for the same reasons they may not work together well. One is more, artsy, creative and short term focused, while the other is better at client relations and long term plans. Together they can make for a true communications powerhouse.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Thanks Vanessa, it’s good to have an insiders view as well.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Outside perspectives are always good, even if they’re not right as are insider perspectives, even if they’re not right. :)

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