. The Transom .

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The evolution of advertising

I have been hearing a lot lately about the so-called evolution of advertising. More and more ad agency CEOs are beginning to describe their businesses as marketing communications, new marketing, etc. What they are really saying is, advertising isn't working for our clients, so we're going into something else. It used to be that ad agencies didn't have any in-house public relations staff. All 'earned media' was handled by someone on the account team that usually amounted to a poorly written news release about the latest and greatest ad campaign. But now, these same ad agencies are seeing their budgets cut and the dollars flowing to agencies that can show credibility and a connection with stakeholders. And that would be PR firms and online specialty shops. I won't say the day of the 30-second TV spot is dead, but it certainly is dying.

What does this mean for those of us who have been performing in this area all along? Opportunity. We will see agencies come into competition for the same business and absolutely fall flat on their face because they don't know PR like we do. It would be like me trying to sell Tiger Woods a golf lesson. However, there is also great risk. Advertising is loud, PR is quiet, so to speak. If we as a profession allow these ad agencies to come in and define PR in a way that benefits them, we are in trouble. Historically, we haven't been great at generating an understanding of what we do. Advertising has done that well. If they successfully define us in the minds of our clients, we're dead.

Now is the time for PR to shine. The market is ready and willing to listen. We have to be the ones talking.

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