Do we have what it takes?

What keeps me up at night is worrying — can we, as an industry, hold our own at the integrated marketing table?

What keeps me up at night is worrying — can we, as an industry, hold our own at the integrated marketing table? Can we compete in the digital crossfire, where every discipline is laying claims? We continue to hear it's a great time for our discipline, but we're still waiting for the numbers to tell that story.

In public relations, we've been taught to carefully choose words and build relationships over time. Our creative wins awards for being smart and strategic, not for being bawdy and outrageous to draw attention or drive word of mouth. We have relied on words more than visuals to tell our stories. So can we now maintain our role as reputation protector while we convince our clients to take risks?

I think the answer is yes, but it won't be easy to redefine what we do and the role we can play in the changing media environment. If you are in this industry today and you don't feel stretched trying to learn new ways of doing business, you should be concerned. To be successful, we need to retrain our staff at every level to go beyond their comfort zones and adopt new skills. Classes being offered in digital and social media should be packed. We also must attract new talent who understand the full marketing spectrum and excel in digital and social marketing.

The agencies and corporations that aggressively embrace the transformation and are working to embed digital and social marketing into the discipline will help to earn a well-deserved seat at the digital table. But unless our discipline comes together to seize this moment, we risk remaining a small, supporting piece of the communications pie.

Barri Rafferty, senior partner and director, Ketchum New York

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