This column isn't about PR.
But then, neither is the consumer PR industry anymore. One thing the recession did was make advertisers determined to find ways of making their brand communications as relevant to as many audiences as possible, for a good price. It's no wonder the obituary for the 30-second ad has been written ad nauseam, and it's no coincidence that PRWeek's conversations with the industry have been increasingly leaning toward issues of the integrated marketing variety and the role of PR in the marketing mix.
Few consumer PR tasks now are carried out without at the very least an askance look at what other disciplines are up to; it's far more common for PR pros to work in tandem with peers in advertising, direct marketing, promotions, and media planning.
A key moment in this column's genesis came when we published the second PRWeek/MS&L Marketing Management Survey in May. It showed that of all marketing disciplines, PR had been the most stable in terms of usage by brand managers and CMOs. That indicated an acknowledgement of PR's value, but also that PR pros weren't yet being tapped in unconventional ways.
In writing up the results from this year's survey, I had a chance to connect with my old contacts in the ad, direct marketing, and brand communications communities. I realized that while I had left them behind when I moved into PR journalism, they'd soon caught up with me. My first job was at Campaign, Haymarket's leading advertising magazine in the UK, where I cut my teeth writing about ad campaigns and learning about strategy from creative directors, and went on to cover media planning and buying, and direct marketing.
When I joined PRWeek as news editor in the fall of 2000, I found a booming PR market that was focused primarily on extending its reach into the boardroom in order to usurp the management consultants. We then all saw the opportunity the recession opened up to usurp ad agencies - to not only share the idea, but maybe even come up with it in the first place.
A feature we ran in the June 21 issue attempted to identify integrated campaigns led by PR. Anecdotally, we know there are many (Apple's iMac and the Mini to name two off the top of my head), and when I wrote the brief, I hoped to be flooded with pitches. But we had far fewer examples to choose from than we had hoped for, though they did include the likes of Holiday Inn's brilliant Towel Amnesty Day.
This debut column is a call to arms to hear about more such campaigns, so please send ideas. This is also an invitation to hear from people outside the PR world who are looking at the bigger-picture issues that will soon, if not now, be affecting our profession.
I hope to introduce new faces and expertise into PR's vital role, and to help the industry help clients find ways to reach their target markets that don't necessarily have a slot in any particular disciplinary pigeonhole. After all, this column isn't about PR.
To submit pitches and ideas for this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.