Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

PRWeek Investigation: The Death Of PR Agencies... And The Rise Of Ad Agencies

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 10, 2014

PRWeek

All the evidence gathered from PRWeek's investigations over the past month points to a couple of crucial conclusions...

Danny Rogers, Editor-in-Chief of PRWeek spells out the future in his recent column: The death of PR agencies -- as we know them

Attending the recent International Festival of Creativity, I was struck once again by the fact that advertising and PR are increasingly the same thing...

There used to be a fundamental difference between the two marketing disciplines. Advertising was about paid-for promotion; TV commercials and billboards. PR was about editorial persuasion; selling stories to journalists. And while the distinction between bought media and earned media still exists, you now find their executives working across both.

... now is the opportunity for those with earned (media relations) and owned (company websites, magazines or events) media skills to completely rebrand their business. Alongside endeavours to reinvent themselves according to today's transforming media, they may finally need to cast off those two deadly letters - P and R.

Mr Rogers is right, there is a change happening in his industry. I've written many times about the changes PR agencies need to make as advertising agencies (and SEO agencies) move into their turf. Richard Edelman, head of the world's largest privately held PR agency, warned about the challenge from the ad sector more than 6 months ago. 

PR agencies need to develop technologies that help scale their work -- advertising agencies already know the power of scale. 

But PR agencies are artisanal, and focused on hand-crafted services, their understanding of technologies of promotion is a Twitter hashtag. That has to change.

PR agencies need to master the media technologies that are used to communicate and to listen. They need to teach their clients how to use them, too. (I have more ideas here for the new rules PR firm.)

PR agencies need to move forward because the world has changed while the way they work changed little. They still argue about putting links in press releases. 

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Please see:

PR's Next Big Challenge: Tooling Up For The War With Ad Agencies

Google Is Forcing A Change In The PR Industry

Richard Edelman's 'Show Up Differently' - A Rally Cry In PR's War With Advertising

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