EDITORIAL: Specializing in specialisms

Ogilvy is appropriating privacy as an issue it wants clients to

know it specializes in (see page 5). It's a canny move, bearing mind the

stink that some companies have gotten themselves into for ignoring

consumers' worries over how their data is being used.

But it also provides further evidence of the way agencies are trying to

ally their brands with various topical causes.

Last month, within the space of two weeks, Hill & Knowlton and Edelman

both unveiled units to handle issues arising from Mad Cow Disease.

Specialist skills in PR have traditionally been associated with

individuals, illustrated by clients shifting accounts to follow certain

trusted practitioners.

Moves like this further the tide of institutionalizing PR agencies'

output, like the introduction of strategic technology systems (see


Given the currently bleak prospect for new business, springing up with

topical know-how is also a particularly fine agency marketing ploy.

But there is a caveat here: don't over-hype the capability. If your

great-sounding new unit is actually two AEs who have taken a crash

course via the Web, you won't have to wait long to be found out.

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