Changing landscape places PR at creative process core

The media landscape has rapidly changed over the past 10 years, and with that change the field of public relations has been transformed as well.

The media landscape has rapidly changed over the past 10 years, and with that change the field of public relations has been transformed as well. By definition, public relations is earned media. However, the line between PR, advertising, and digital is blurred, making each discipline's role more fluid. PR isn't an afterthought, but a vital part of the marketing blend, helping to complement the creative process from the very start.  

The current perfect storm of a lackluster economy and a 24-hour news cycle, where individuals are just as responsible for disseminating the news as reporters, is helping give birth to a new type of hybrid creative agency. Brands such as The Body Shop, Sam Adams, Tupperware, and Zappos have moved away from traditional advertising campaigns and have begun to integrate new strategic visions, such as PR, earlier into the marketing process to help make their company stand out at a fraction of the cost.  

Take Procter & Gamble for example. In 2008, the company launched Crest Weekly Clean Intensive Cleaning Paste, a niche product for their oral care brand. P&G implemented word of mouth programs into the advertising campaign to raise awareness for this new product launch.  Instead of designing a traditional television commercial for the launch, the brand invested the money into a unique blogger outreach campaign. This tactic proved to be highly effective and raised awareness and excitement for the product before it was even available on shelves. P&G was able to achieve the results they had hoped for while keeping cost and resources low.

In addition, many overseas brands are taking a page from this new marketing mix playbook. Unheard of stateside, Lucas Bols has leveraged a savvy mix of design, PR, and advertising to raise awareness and build buzz for the Dutch spirit's US launch in key markets such as New York, Boston, and Los Angeles in what is otherwise a cluttered market typically dominated by well known, established alcohol brands. The end result was an original campaign that has been designed to achieve great success through the combination of advertising and PR.

While the advertising industry is filled with creative talent specializing in making famous work, PR professionals are experts in developing campaigns to make the work famous. During a time when information is disseminated at the speed of light, traditional print is on the decline, and consumers fast-forward their DVRs past commercials, it is becoming crucial to view the creative process in a different way, and find solutions that are efficient and effective. The result is a new spin on the marketing process that implements highly effective programs at a low cost with one consistent voice that can be seamlessly activated in this ever-changing climate. Companies that put PR at the core of the creative process will reap the reward of investing in innovative ideas that gained massive attention through consumer word of mouth and media, helping to elevate their brands above the rest.
One thing is for sure, these days it's good to be a PR professional.

Stephanie Friess is PR director for Beattie McGuinness Bungay

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