When Ad Agencies Practise PR …

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Tue, May 20 - 7:54 am EDT | 6 years ago by
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What PR agency wouldn’t benefit from having an in-house creative shop to call upon?

Edward Boches launched the Relentless PR blog by suggesting that an ad agency may be the best place to be doing PR these days. Boches is chief creative officer for Mullen, a Wehham, Massachusetts ad agency that has evolved into more of a full-service agency with offices in North Carolina, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

Edward Boches of Mullen He describes the growth of Mullen’s PR group to 60 people, and credits “a competitive advantage in the form of a creative department able to deliver posters, viral campaigns, and PSA TV commercials to augment what were already impressive PR programs.”

I’m sure there many PR agency heads who would disagree with Boches’ premise. But the recognition of how PR works and how clients can put it to use is more important than where that recognition resides. You’re much more likely to find that kind of thinking in a stand-alone PR firm, but that doesn’t preclude PR as a valued part of a marketing company.

The post’s first commenter questions ad agencies’ ability to change their mindsets, and zooms in on the driving force today behind an increasing convergence of PR and marketing/branding: “the ‘digital experience’ may indeed be the point at which the two solitudes break down.”

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  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    I can certainly vouch for certain advantages to working PR at an agency. Prior to my focus on social media, I was in the PR department at Doe-Anderson. I would also agree with Boches on another count as well. As public relations expands (or migrates, depending upon the client) to the online space, having a strong digital or interactive component to your agency is extremely helpful. In many ways, social media is essentially online PR. Having some technical know how and acumen to backup your efforts there can only help.

    Interesting post!

  • http://www.hybridconsultinggroup.blogspot.com/ Angela Solomon

    I am a journalism student, and the overwhelming message that so many professors push is the idea of convergence. Whether you want to be a reporter, or work in PR, they say the future of those fields is knowing how to do a wide variety “things” that are loosely connected to your field. Having that expanded knowledge (like PR and advertising) would seemingly only help you in your career and success.

  • http://www.commonsensepr.com Eric Eggertson

    Angela:

    Definitely. But most J-schools would have you believe that public relations is a debased form of devil worship. I’d argue they’re two sides of the same thing.

    Marketing/branding vs. PR don’t seem to have the same ideology-based differences, but they seem to be taught and practised in isolation. In many cases, the marketing budget has dwarfed the PR budget, and the marketing folks haven’t seen a compelling reason to do joint planning.

  • http://www.commonsensepr.com Eric Eggertson

    Jason:

    It seems that the online community-building thing is the flypaper that is drawing marketing to the PR side of the customer relationship. It’s hard to be in that space without applying public relations skills, and the PR side finds ways to incorporate creative development and brand building.

    I think it’s cool.

  • http://www.pitbullsandlabradors.blogspot.com Lally

    I started in the agency business at the (then) Very-Big-Advertising-Agency-of-America. I then went to a small entrepreneurial PR agency.

    I swore I’d never go back.

    After a tour on the corporate side, I … well … went back.

    The problem is not a conflict between advertising, marketing, wha’ev … and PR. The problem is respect. Find a place where you get respect and are allowed to do good work and it’s a much different world.

    Look for that place where they appreciate and — ideally — understand what relationship marketing is about.

  • http://www.commonsensepr.com Eric Eggertson

    Well said, Lally.

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