Time for PR to lead marketing: Hutton

The global head of international consumer marketing practice tells PR pros in Australia they need to put communications front and centre with marketing

Michelle Hutton, global chair of consumer marketing, Edelman
Michelle Hutton, global chair of consumer marketing, Edelman

PR has traditionally been seen as a relatively minor component of the marketing mix. But Michelle Hutton, Edelman’s newly appointed global chair of consumer marketing, in her keynote address to the national conference of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) called upon PR pros to challenge that status quo and instead lead the marketing profession from the front.

New agency model

She asked PR firms to start seeing themselves as the "new media agency model".

"In the new reality of communications marketing, the communication and marketing functions need to be closer than ever before."

Marketing can no longer do it alone, she told over 250+ delegates. "The solution to every problem is not a new advertising campaign. We need real solutions to solve real problems inspired by communications thinking. We need to start by shifting our language from marketing communication to using a new paradigm - communications marketing."

On talent

Hutton told attendees that she is seeing more creative talent wanting to join the PR industry. "They are tired of TVCs that continue not to work. The reality is that PR agencies are now competing more and more with creative agencies," she said.

But to go head to head with the creative agencies, Hutton told delegates, the PR industry must hire "strategists, planners, digital and social-media experts, creative talent, media superstars, developers and quantitative and data analysts."

Edelman Australia recently beefed up its digital and creative capabilities in Australia with the appointment of Jamal Hamidi as the national executive creative director and Alex Lefley as the national head of social media and digital engagement.

"We need people who understand the new and evolving media landscape," she said. "We all need to understand the world of paid media."

Time to lead

"Good PR consultants in the future will know more about paid media than they do now," she predicted. According to Hutton, with brands becoming their own media firms the time is right for PR pros to take lead in defining the new paradigm for marketing.

"You can’t separate communications and marketing, otherwise you are talking out of two sides of your mouth," she said. "For communications executives and for those of us in the PR agency world, it is our time to lead."

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