The problem with PR


As we move ever further into a world of consumer empowerment where our commerical messages are being sidelined and ignored, it seems logical to assume that the one marketing discipline that should be in a prime position to capitalise on the trend is PR.

With its ability to infiltrate editorial, create interest and generate ‘talkability’, PR is an area that can drive a communication plan, and act as a catalyst for a brand seeking to ingratiate itself with an audience. Great PR won’t be zapped, bypassed or ignored – it draws attention to itself, can create conversation and above all adds value to a brand/consumer relationship (just ask Seth) – all of which are pre-requisites in the modern brandosphere.

Communications planners now find themselves routinely eulogising about PR to clients, and recommending it in place of other more traditional channels. PR’s great – ney, essential, when it’s done properly.

There, however, is the rub: when it’s done properly.

With the position that they find themselves in today, why do some (you know who you are!) PR agencies insist on churning out the same old rubbish? They have a unique opportunity to achieve a position on the strategic highground, sitting at the communications top-table and being central to the planning process – creating and driving the strategy, as opposed to simply blindly contributing to it. So why do I continue to see the following ‘innovative’ recommendations, week in, week out, regardless of the strategy or brief?

(1) Get celebrity endorsement
(2) Create a ‘national day’ (ie. national blogging day)
(3) Commission a survey

…etc.

These routinely disappointing ‘solutions’, whilst I’m sure valid at various points, are pretty tired and unoriginal, yet we continue to see them, brand to brand, client to client. Come on guys – try harder.

Perhaps a major contributing factor to this is the lack of strategists/planners at PR agencies: surely they have a role to play at every credible agency?

Media Agencies have carved a role for themselves in strategic planning that was traditionally the exclusive realm of Creative Agencies. This practice has led to better and more rigourous thinking across the media world, which has resulted in many comms planners operating at a level previously unachievable in the ‘monkeys with calculators’ era. Why is the same not possible in PR agencies? Couldn’t a bit of investment in intellectual rigour not help PR shake off the ab-fab era and give rise to a higher strategic (and more profitable) level?

There are some wonderful PR agencies out there, who are absolutely worth their weight in gold. However, I think that they’re too few and far between, and the ‘rest’ have got a lot to learn. I for one look forward to when they do.

Rant over 😉

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One Response to “The problem with PR”

  1. Rodrigo Says:

    wow that’s been buring a hole in your blog pocket for some time, hasn’t it. (I can’t imagine for a moment which agencies you might be referring to!)

    oh, and I absolutely agree, by the way 🙂

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