Last Christmas for adland as we enter a bright new age of PR?

As the media buyers and planners obfuscate their ignorance on where their online ads are going, who they are reaching, and at times why they are sending them, creative PR's are staging a comeback catalysed by something we retained all along; a clear and actionable purpose.

Adland should be on notice that PR is coming for its Christmas lunch next year, warns James Herring
Adland should be on notice that PR is coming for its Christmas lunch next year, warns James Herring

While adland is embroiled in arguments around privacy, viewability, transparency and brand safety, PRs are getting a seat at the big table to do what we do best, deliver results.

Sure, powerful creative sits at the core of any successful campaign, but the difference for earned media is that narrative must cut through the news cycle and resonate with consumers – otherwise we're musicians performing concertos to an empty hall.

Smart PR operators start the creative conversation at the other end of the spectrum – asking what will cut through the noise and chatter of the busy editorial newsroom and, ultimately, land in social media timelines.

In an ad-blocked, ad-skipped, ad-indifferent world, this is a sure-fire way for brands to win through. PR works backwards from delivery to concept and this approach gives our industry a significant competitive advantage in new world order.

A reverse land-grab is now taking place.

Here at Taylor Herring we just wrote and directed our first ever TV ad, a hypnotic three minutes of a QuickDrive washing machine on a laundry cycle.

Crucially the ad, which took up an entire Gogglebox break, told the functionality of the appliance as part of a greater consumer story.

It trended on Twitter and gained substantial media coverage across the board with the story playing out as the ‘and finally’ on BBC Newsnight.

The realm and remit of PR is changing in a wonderfully exciting and creative direction.

Powerful creative sits at the core of any successful campaign, but the difference for earned media is that narrative must cut through the news cycle and resonate with consumers – otherwise we're musicians performing concertos to an empty hall.

James Herring, managing partner at Taylor Herring

This year alone we created a billboard campaign for Samsung, produced a documentary for Greggs, released an album for easyJet and stepped up to become Pimm’s lead creative agency.

This is not an anomaly. PR connects.

We can win new clients over with ideas just as we win over the media on a daily basis. It is part of our DNA. The PR counter attack is on and adland won't see it coming.

On this crowded field, remarkably few stand a chance of substantially cutting through the noise, at least to the extent of justifying their investment.

As a sign of desperation, they spammed their messages into the digital space to compensate for consumer indifference. (Is it any surprise some 21 per cent of us have ad blockers on our phones?)

The very best in our industry will sidestep this issue by creating work that penetrates the news cycle and generates organic conversation.

We cut through the editorial filter, lending extra credibility and reach to our coverage.

For December 2018, I predict that the smartest PR practitioners will usurp the hegemonic, High Street, Christmas ad creative; a slurry of predictability, nostalgia and tear-jerkers.

Instead they will deliver ideas that will inspire, entertain and more importantly engage.

Next Christmas the PR industry will be at the table with admen, pulling crackers, exchanging jokes, and more crucially, eating their lunch.

James Herring is managing partner at Taylor Herring

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