Danny Rogers: Lessons can be gained from integration

It was unfortunate that in the year the Cannes Advertising Festival introduced its inaugural PR awards programme, all delegates were handed a book called The Fall of PR & the Rise of Advertising.

Danny Rogers
Danny Rogers

It is equally ironic that the author, Stefan Engeseth, should claim that ‘PR is now finding its credibility in the intensive care unit’, and then resort to classic PR tactics to promote his book, including posting the paperback to journalists with a breathy press release. But then Engeseth is described as ‘one of Europe’s most creative business thinkers and a top-ranked speaker’, so he probably relies on good PR as much as any of us.

A read of his book prompts a few rhetorical questions. If, for example, ‘PR agencies are nowhere near delivering what their customers are asking for’, then one has to wonder why spend through PR agencies has been seeing double-digit growth for the past seven years. Surely clients are not that careless with their cash.

However, on this claim alone, he does touch on an important theme, particularly when he adds ‘nine
out of ten of agencies’ customers aren’t sure what they’re paying for’.

By now most major brands and corporations are completely convinced of the power and value of professional and proactive communication, but they may still harbour doubts over how they justify this investment in hard facts and figures.
Interestingly, one of the effects of this recession has been to force closer integration between marketing disciplines. We are seeing ad and media agencies launching PR divisions and, conversely, PR agencies launching branding and marketing arms.

Last week one very experienced in-house communications director told me he thought this heralded ‘the return of the classic full-service agency’.

Such a trend may hold some answers for the measurement dilemma. As PR professionals work more closely with ad
and media executives, they may well learn some of their more advanced planning and measurement techniques. If they fail to do so, the likes of Engeseth may even be vindicated.

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