. The Transom .

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What's our problem?

Many would argue, and I have been one of them, that the biggest problem facing the PR industry is the pathetic display of writing ability among our ranks. Clearly, it is a problem that needs fixing and given the text and IM world we live in, I'm not sure it will get better anytime soon. I think the problem with the industry, in terms of overall industry growth and acceptance, doesn't involve writing. It involves measurement, research, and client education.

In the last two weeks I sat before current clients and discussed new ideas for a program. They loved it and asked who could implement it. Um.... we can. They had no idea about the breadth of our capabilities because for so long we'd been pigeon-holed into one area. And we had failed to continually show them what we can do across the board. Sometimes biannual 'update' meetings are a good idea just to keep top of mind and present new capabilities and ideas to current clients. Organic growth is always better and easier than non-organic.

Measurement and research are two areas that advertising wisely jumped on long ago. The PR industry is still lacking in how to effectively prove that we can move the needle. Yes, there are good ways to measure some functions, but for many agencies, it's a leap of faith and client satisfaction with media results, or attendance at an event. Not exactly groundbreaking information.

In addition, I think we've priced ourselves the wrong way. We're not selling widgets, we're selling ideas and the execution of those ideas. Why then, do we charge by the hour? Because we don't have good measurement to show value. Value in reputation, value in brand building, value in the intangibles. Until we address those issues, it's going to be an uphill climb for the industry to realize phenomenal growth.

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