A truly creative agency can create conversations between brands and consumers, through engaging content. 'We do whatever it takes to make those conversations happen,' says Jason Goodman, CEO of creative agency Albion, which produced the popular Slapometer for the general election. 'As an agency we happen to "get" the digital space very well.
Ad agencies on the whole have always "got" popular culture, and this is about understanding how technology fits into the way that people live their lives.'
The PR industry therefore needs to emulate that creativity and the planning resource. Alan Parker, head of digital at GolinHarris, says while he does believes PR owned social media in 2010, it is in danger of losing out to advertising if it does not evolve. 'Brands are happy with the conversations we have created, but how do they integrate that into their wider marketing campaigns?' he asks. 'How does that fit in with their website, their above-the-line? Brands are looking for more integrated campaigns. E-commerce is coming to Facebook in the future - we already have advertising through Facebook, and PR needs to get its head around that.'
Of course, access to the larger budgets that advertising tends to have does help, as Nick Rappolt, MD EMEA of digital media consultancy Beyond, notes: 'Advertising agencies are better at delivering creative campaigns that integrate a range of disciplines, but this is partly because they have access to bigger budgets.'
But there is no reason why PR agencies cannot not create the type of content that stimulates discussion. Goodman acknowledges: 'PR is better equipped for the future and there are strong players that understand the environment. It is also better prepared.'