PR must continue to fight for its rightful spot in the marketing mix

Sometimes you hear about a campaign or an idea that is so compelling you can't stop thinking about it.

Sometimes you hear about a campaign or an idea that is so compelling you can't stop thinking about it.

Last night DMNews, PRWeek's sister publication, presented the John Caples International Awards, which celebrate creativity in direct marketing. The night's big winner was a campaign by Shackleton, an agency based in Madrid, Spain.

The challenge was to demonstrate the efficiency of advertising, on behalf of Conect Pay TV channels. The team mounted a tourism campaign around a village that had never before promoted itself. The village is called Miravete de la Sierra, population 12. Shackleton put it on the map, dubbing it “The Village Where Nothing Ever Happens.”

Using commercials and a Web site, consumers were introduced to the villagers, invited to contribute to the restoration of the church, and play a goat-milking game.

Great work. And, though it's firmly in the realm of direct marketing, it would not surprise any of us to see this kind of idea coming straight out of a PR shop. As always lately, the exciting ideas emerging from direct marketing agencies could easily be confused with the best ideas from PR, or the more enlightened advertising agencies.

But, while those in PR recognize that the blurring of the marketing lines is working in all directions, that is not the case for marketing agencies' view of PR.

Just in the past week, I have had several conversations with broader marketing firm leaders who have told me that PR has been pushed to the fringes and that the “digital” agency is king – as if these things are mutually exclusive.

This could be agency grandstanding, of course, but it was a reminder to me that we must not be complacent about PR's place in the rapidly evolving social media market.

We need to continue to demonstrate and articulate PR's rightful spot, where credibility, authenticity, trust, and meaningful engagement are the standards of success. No other marketing area can more convincingly claim these as its own.

An agency leader recently commented to me that they thought the advertising agencies are “sleeping giants,” embattled and confused, but gathering strength now to re-emerge and lay claim to the new marketing world order.

We need to cultivate a new sense of urgency to demonstrate value before that happens. Otherwise, we'll soon start to believe the great ideas really do come from somewhere else.

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