PR heritage/skills can supercharge marketing's future

I've written many times about the need for agencies to evolve rapidly to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by social media to deliver more compelling strategies to their clients.

I've written many times about the need for agencies to evolve rapidly to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by social media to deliver more compelling strategies and services to their clients.

So, in that vein, imagine an agency that spans paid, owned, earned, and shared media.

Imagine an agency that can supercharge communications activity with multimillion dollar advertising and direct marketing budgets that dwarf the numbers normally allocated to PR strategy and campaigns.

Imagine an agency borne squarely of the world of PR, with the natural feel and heritage that intrinsically brings with it.

Imagine an agency with the ability to lead but also to tap into group partners across the advertising, marketing, CRM, digital, mobile, and PR disciplines.

Imagine an agency helmed by someone regarded as one of the top 5 digital gurus in the business.

That "agency" is Social@Ogilvy, and it was announced to the world on Monday at the start of Social Media Week by global managing director John Bell, who also led the unit's brainchild, Ogilvy PR's 360 Digital Influence group.

Bell believes brands will spend between 17-18% of their total marketing communications budgets on social media within four years, and that in time they will spend even more on "social business solutions."

Made up of 550 people from around the world, the practice - for, in truth, it is more of a cross-discipline practice than a standalone agency - will work across all Ogilvy marketing disciplines. It will prioritize measurement, data, strategy, and adopt an integrated, goal-oriented, and global approach.

Of course, Edelman, Weber Shandwick, Fleishman-Hillard, and Ketchum and other excellent agencies are doing many of these things to a small or large extent already. And I note that APCO Worldwide just bought ad agency Strawberry Frog, no doubt with this trend in mind.

I was just particularly taken with the way Ogilvy's proposition was brought to market and the clear logic and future-proofing behind it. It sets a standard others can follow as they attempt to break out of the 7-8% marketing budget silo the PR agency sector is in danger of confining itself to if it doesn't change its mindset.

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