PR's rise amid the collapse of the value chain

Once upon a time, not long ago, a thriving ecosystem existed between corporations and the media.

Once upon a time, not long ago, a thriving ecosystem existed between corporations and the media. CMOs employed an arsenal of marketers - Web, product, research, marcomms, and corporate communications departments each had distinctive roles and responsibilities. Their external agencies promoted corporate clients through the other side of the value chain - to writers, editors, senior editors, art departments, copy editors, and ultimately consumers, partners, shareholders.

Can anyone remember the last time they worked with a copy editor? Over the past decade, many of these functions have become obsolete or, at best, scarce. Layoffs and efficiencies have forced both sides of the value chain to improvise and do without. Squarely in the middle, agencies have largely adapted and filled the vacuum.

In evolutionary theory, it's generally believed that the most flexible entity usually survives. Yes, PR is encroached upon by digital and hybrid agencies, but we've seen PR's role expand, and in the most dramatic instances, span between the CMO and editor-in-chief.

Agencies representing professional service companies and startups likely feel the effects most profoundly. In many of these instances, PR agencies are the marketing department - advising the C-suite on marketing strategy, writing the Web and iPhone app copy, sending business plans to the venture capitalists, and implementing search engine marketing. For mid- and large-cap clients, we're plugging requirements that have remained open for months. As a result, PR is devising multifaceted partner marketing programs, overseeing community management, and even providing customer service via social media.

Donna Sokolsky Burke is founder/owner of Spark PR

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