For years now marketers have claimed that public relations is a marketing tool; while PR bods have been championing the fact that public relations is not a marketing tool, but in fact a separate profession that can and often does compliment marketing practices. I would however, state that the marketing and public relations professions are rapidly shedding their separate identities and fusing into an integrated service offering!
With the introduction of digital practices and consumer-aware insights and expertise; marketers and pr practitioners have had to quickly accept, learn and adapt to the opportunities offered by the web 2.0. With Web 2.0 the disputed line between marketing and public relations has not so much blurred, but more like fused – purely because of the new marketing and communications channels that interlock and are now available and, which allow brand managers to push their brand’s messages and promote their brand’s values below-the-line, above-the-line and even along-the-line!
Social media platforms and interactive web applications have created a new industry, seeing integrated agencies dominating the sector by pushing new services, new innovations and new creativity, while those agencies who wish to remain as a single-service agency calling themselves a specialist service provider!
Gone are the days, in my view, when advertising agencies would only offer advertising services or PR agencies would only offer media relations solutions – I know, there is so much more to PR than simply media relations! Now, agencies…sorry, integrated agencies are winning new accounts because of their offerings, and just as important, maintaining long-term client relationships because of their ability to offer a multi-level solution – looking after their clients’ marketing, public relations, planning, creative and media planning needs under one roof.
There are now as many integrated agencies out there as there are single-service agencies, and, it’s true to say that if you can offer more services to accommodate your clients’ needs then the more chance you have of winning new business and retaining accounts.
I of course would take this view, after all I spent three and half years studying marketing, and then a further three years studying public relations, which is now been supported by over sixteen years direct integrated experience, covering b2b, b2c and third-sector – hey, I’ve even touched on the celebrity sector (Ray Winstone :)
Some marketers or pr practitioners would no doubt state that those who call themselves integrators are unable to specialise, or even be fully competent in either profession! But I would, based on my own experience and the results I have achieved for my clients and my employers, dispute this theory. I’m able to deliver media relations plans and produce the appropriate media relations material, such as a press releases and editorials, while also having the ability to spot and generate media interview opportunities, introduce crisis and issues management processes and, at the same time introduce a marketing strategy that creates and manages new routes to market, or, generate and manage a plan that clearly explains the why, the how and the when for a focused advertising campaign that utilises both traditional media and digital media channels! I’m even able to produce the copy needed for promotional campaigns, story boards, literature and websites, including creating the appropriate SEO content.
So, am I a marketer, pr practitioner or an integrator? My answer would be an Integrator. And as a client I would much prefer to be looked after by an integrated agency then an agency that only offers one type of service. Why? Well, I wouldn’t have to go searching for another agency to obtain creative or planning services when needed, and my business would benefit from the insight and creativity generated by those who understand different professions and can mix and match the proposal to suit my business at any one time.
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