EDITORIAL: Smart firm heads allow staffers their say

PRWeek's recent news story about Edelman working with Viacom to promote AIDS/HIV awareness across its media vehicles was edifying.

PRWeek's recent news story about Edelman working with Viacom to promote AIDS/HIV awareness across its media vehicles was edifying.

But not only because it was making use of a rich platform for an essential issue. It was also because the quotes from the account handler at Edelman highlight an interesting distinction between ad agencies and PR agencies. In my past life as an advertising beat reporter in London, making calls for a campaign story necessarily involved quoting the ad agency's creative director - a person often more revered than even the CEO. Typically, all creative work that flowed through the agency was deemed to be this person's intellectual property, however much or little they had contributed to the finished ad. Quotes from the creative team were often auxiliary. It took a few wrong turns to relearn the conventions of writing a campaign story upon arriving in New York. Calls to GMs and friendly CEOs always led to a gentle referral to the account handler. There are some logical reasons for this, of course. Unlike a broad-brush ad campaign, often lived and breathed by a whole ad agency, many PR efforts are designed to fit into tiny niches, handled only by one specialist. But it also highlights the faith that PR agencies put in their practitioners, and the acknowledgment that an agency manager cannot both run a business and micro manage account work. Who better to give the mouthpiece to than the person who has the intricate understanding of the project? At a time when employee satisfaction and self-worth is paramount, these tacit testimonials should be savored.

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