Recent senior-level moves signal that PR may be ready to make its mark in broadcast media

Larry Moskowitz, CEO of Medialink, has long said that PR lags behind the revolution in media.

Larry Moskowitz, CEO of Medialink, has long said that PR lags behind the revolution in media.

As advertising has seen greater scrutiny, Moskowitz maintained via a recent e-mail exchange that "the $250 billion spent on broadcast advertising is looking for new avenues into the minds of the American public."

The spoils could belong to PR if it can "come up with ways to reach the big audiences that only broadcast media can provide, but using marketing vehicles that consumers will accept, not reject."

Last week's senior media relations shuffles, which saw Peter Himler leave Burson-Marsteller for Edelman and Michael Schiferl move to Weber Shandwick from Edelman, didn't surprise Moskowitz. "We should be ready to see a mad scramble by PR firms and corporate communications departments to gain the talent, skills, and capabilities to provide marketers with the ink and airtime they seek," he predicted.

Strategy and innovation were the themes advanced in announcing both hires. Himler assumes a new EVP role at Edelman, due to, as US president Pam Talbot put it in the press release, the evolving media demands, "driven in part by the proliferation of channels, the explosion of micro-media such as blogs, and the convergence of news and entertainment."

Schiferl takes the consumer-weighted media role at WS, working primarily in the pharma and household-products categories. "It's not just about the 'big hit' any more," said Gail Heimann, president of WS New York, and co-president (with Cathy Calhoun) of the consumer marketing practice, in its release. "It takes a disciplined, long-term process to engage the media and, ultimately, touch and influence the consumer."

New hires are not the only sign that firms are recognizing the opportunity. Ketchum made ensuring top- class media relations a key part of its plan for 2004.

The PR industry is actively seeking ways to capitalize on a lack of faith in advertising, often looking to advance a "discipline-agnostic" problem-solving approach to campaigns. But the fundamental PR specialties should also be at the forefront - as long as they, too, are products of innovation, rather than habit.

PRWeek to study cause-related partnerships

An IEG Sponsorship Report predicted that US spending on cause marketing will hit $991 million in 2004 - a 7.5% increase over last year - and that it is the third largest sponsorship category. Cause marketing partnerships are an increasingly attractive way for companies to invest in worthy programs and their own reputations at the same time.

But there are often problems that thwart effective relationships between nonprofits and companies. The PRWeek/Paine PR Survey on Maximizing Cause Related Partnerships is asking nonprofit leaders to identify the sources of conflict.

"[Following 9/11], many corporations have readdressed their involvement with nonprofits, whether it's instituting volunteerism programs or contributing funding, products, and services," noted David Paine, CEO of Paine PR. "Because one of the barriers to increased partnership has been the sort of cats-and-dogs nature of relationships between corporations and nonprofits, we felt it was critical to better define some of the parameters for successful partnerships."

- Julia Hood

To take the survey, log on to www.cyberpulse.com/prweek.

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