On the beat: consumer

Covering the consumer beat in 2007 didn't leave much time for rest. It seemed as if every other week there was another major RFP being issued or a six- to seven-figure assignment being pitched. And getting anyone to talk about those isn't easy.

Covering the consumer beat in 2007 didn't leave much time for rest. It seemed as if every other week there was another major RFP being issued or a six- to seven-figure assignment being pitched. And getting anyone to talk about those isn't easy.

It was a year of many crisis- and issues-management efforts, new media campaigns, brand relaunches, brand expansions, partnerships, and, once again, less AOR and more specialty assignment pitches. All the while, brands were looking for new avenues of consumer engagement.

Probably more than any other year before it, 2007 saw consumer oriented brands turn to PR for more than just media relations. This could be for a number of reasons, including ad-budget reductions, companies finally starting to realize that PR agencies are just as well suited to handle new media and digital assignments as are ad agencies, and a greater need for integration with other disciplines.

One consumer PR pro recently told me that as brands begin to reallocate their ad dollars, they're not looking to fill those gaps with publicity or events. Instead brands are asking PR agencies to make the connection with consumers they normally would through traditional ad efforts.

This year also saw the level of integration between PR and other disciplines increase due to the fact that brands want to provide a 360-degree marketing experience for consumers. As a result, some firms were asked how they work with agency partners before even making their pitch.

A number of consumer PR pros also reported that 2007 brought a lot of RFPs from major brands focusing on non-traditional PR assignments. This more than likely has to do with marketers shifting a bigger share of their focus to digital efforts.

The past year can also be viewed as one in which marketers who were serious about connecting with consumers realized that digital initiatives were no longer just add-ons.

And even if they won't completely admit it, it seemed as if brands were trying to make PR more of a driving force behind their marketing mix.

When you add all of this up, what you have is a successful 2007 and a 2008 that looks promising for the consumer PR industry.

In addition to choosing entries for PRWeek's 2007 Book of Lists, PRWeek reporters provided individual overviews of a year within their beat. "On the beat" columns are also dispersed throughout the Best of Lists 2007 PDF.


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